The Isle of Lesbos that is. But, after that home comes a very close second, which is where I am now.
Returning to Sydney yesterday for the first time since I moved to Singapore at the start of 2009, it really hit me that I’ve been away for almost 2 years. How time has flown. And as much as it pains me to pull out that time honoured cliche, there really is no place like it. The fact that Sydney may very well be a better city with much friendlier but unfortunately also fatter people notwithstanding, I’m sure the sentiment holds true regardless of where one’s true home may be.
Arriving at the airport to smiling and courteous strangers was so refreshing, dealing with the genuinely friendly and warm airport staff so heartwarming, and stepping out into the dry and crisp morning air so wonderfully invigorating.
And as excited and comfortable as I was to step back into my parents house and see my puppy Sydney for the first time in almost two years, that cute little bastard that I’ve missed so intensely all this time, it doesn’t compare to how I feel right now. Waking up in my 20yr old bed, donning my 15 year winter jacket, shivering in the chill morning air, sitting down with a cup of coffee, and not being able to stop smiling to myself. I’m home, and by god it feels great.
Throughout my entire life, the last two years has been arguably 2 of the toughest that I’ve faced in some ways. Since first moving out at the age of 21, I’ve always been the master of my own domain. Literally, as well as I guess figuratively (you dirty bastards). Completely supporting myself, helping to support my parents, and for some of those years a girlfriend as well. The feeling of being in the drivers seat, in complete control of your own fate and destiny, for better or worse, is something that I’ve always taken for granted.
I mean, if I felt like filling my house with all the saintly warmth of crack and hookers, I could do that with a zero need to answer to no one but my conscience… and possibly a pissed of girlfriend. But the option is always there. As we’ve all probably heard on one time or another from the mouth of our parents, “My house, my rules”. A saying we’ve always retorted to with the mute button depressed with “And that’s why I can’t wait to move the f**k out…”.
But for the last two years, I’ve had both the pleasure and displeasure of having to relinquish this control. Living under the roof of my in-laws in Singapore has not been easy, in the way that handing over the reins of your wagon to another rider is not easy. Even though they aren’t around for half the year, simply knowing that technically speaking, I am nothing more than a guest in this abode, is not easy for me. A person whom has been used to full autonomous control.
The fact that our own place is still under construction and we’re likely only going to be able to move out about 1.5 years from now at the earliest, both fills me with relief and dread. Relief that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and dread that I may find it hard to see the forest for all the trees until that time.
Erica’s parents have been truly wonderful in that they have tried to make this feel as much my own home as one could possibly make. Something I appreciate beyond anything words can convey. But ultimately the fact that I’m not in charge of the decision making processes here, that I’m not the driver or even co-driver of this carriage, a big part of the essence of what in spirit constitutes a true feeling of home for me, is missing. A home for me should not only have warmth, comfort, and ideally, familiarity, but it should also be free of awkwardness, uncertainty, and censorship. The latter three factors which for me are still present in varying degrees.
Aside from honouring the filial obligations required by my circumstance, inclusive of marriage, choice, and necessity, there are a few things I’ve learned over this period stemming from my accommodation situation.
One: I cannot live with a domestic helper. As in, a full time domestic helper. Even the best of them, which I believe ours is, there is nothing more intrusive than a stranger in your home. Having a person whom has the “always there” switch activated, but yet still having to establish boundaries within your home, is a situation that I could never accept for myself. I believe that anyone whom has the full privilege of sharing your home, should feel that they are fully part of the home. A home is no place for an employer-employee relationship, nor a master-slave relationship, nor any other relationship where dominion and power is wielded by they whom own the payroll. A home is a place for open doors, open discussions, freedom from censorship, and unconditional love for all under its roof. Something that may occur by nature of time, but not from nature itself.
Two: I cannot live with my sister-in-law. She is someone whom I truly love to bits, but sometimes she makes it so hard for me to show it. Call it a clash of personality, but she’s one of the big factors which contribute to me feeling like a guest in this house. The worst thing is that it’s nothing as a result of something which has been said or done, but more so something that is intangible or spiritual. It’s a feeling like I’m a fifth wheel or the proverbial tit on a bull. Normally I’d chalk it down something that’s in my own head, like a combination of insecurity, male pride, and ego. But there’s this strange feeling of unwelcomeness that seems to be nagging at me which I can’t put my finger on, that is growing with the passage of time. It seems to not only be affecting my relationship with her, but that between my wife and her as well. A growing rift that is painful for me to watch. Given that my SIL is the sort to be very insular and reticent in talking of her true feelings and the things that bother her with family, another big reason that we’re really looking forward to moving out is hoping that some lustre and warmth can be restored to that relationship.
Anyway, I digress… as usual. Wow, it’s been over half a year since I last blogged, which is really no surprise given my MO I guess. But sitting here now with my hot (actually now empty) cup of joe, back in this haven of which right now I feel like describing as amour sans frontieres, I feel introspective, relaxed, stress free, and time plenty. A sum of factors of which haven’t had a gathering together for quite some time. And I believe they hope they can do it more often.