Back in the SL

I have become one of those people.

For the fourth time this year, I am sitting at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Colombo airport drinking the world’s worst coffee and the worst food.

I am also strutting around in heels. Here. Also in Indonesia. In the Philippines. Everywhere. I walked into a TASMAC in dodgy neighbourhood in Madras in my Asian office lady dress and in my heels. Everybody stared. The truth is I have misplaced my flip flops and the hippie that was wearing them along with it.

The heels make my friends laugh. A, who hasn’t lived in Singapore for the last five years, literally dropped her cocktail all over our bags as she stood there marvelling at how I was wearing proper shoes.

Here I am now in a designer top, hippie pants, heels and uncombed hair. I have lost my hairbrush, too.

My life these days is at once more stable and at once more colourful. The opportunities get larger and more varied. The opportunity costs increase. There is clarity. I say “epic” and “amazeballs” a lot. I also say “let’s jam” when talking about meetings because I work with so many Americans and call so many of them my friends.

I’ve had the chance to pursue some incredible opportunities at work (in tech), for play (in writing), for causes I care about; I am pleased.

My dog goes to doggie kindergarten and camping trips, and I go to meetings. Sometimes I remember to comb my hair. I pay rent in one of the world’s most expensive cities and I travel once a week, sometimes more. I get to see my lovely family all the time now, which is a vast improvement from 2008-2013.

We ringed in the new year in an apartment overlooking the Singapore River. The fireworks were beautiful but the best part was the good friends I love. Years ago in the back room of a tiny political party’s office — an episode we will probably laugh about for the rest of our lives — I met N and S, and they have been exactly what one Facebook caption said, “together through good and bad, politics, broken hearts and unwritten novels.” The all-nighters will come to something. The elections were our becoming. The friends to whose sides you flee to for refuge and for pineapple tarts and gin when you’ve had your heart broken are the ones to keep.

Last night I attended a beautiful wedding in Sri Lanka. Normally weddings make me want to cry with how trite and awful they are, yet despite the rituals and the chaos, this one was full of love and light. It was clear every single soul that made it out there came because we truly loved these guys. From Johannesburg to New York to Singapore, guests were family to the couple, jointly and separately, at various points of lives led in Sri Lanka, Singapore, New York City and elsewhere. Here were two souls who had withstood trials of such intensity and magnitude, who had moved mountains to be with each other. Though the guests fumbled, we eventually managed to let loose a flurry of wishing lights into the sky over Pannupitiya.

That’s what all this is about, the bride not so tearfully (compared to her best friend) told us. Family, friends that are family, and love.

In the balmy Sri Lankan heat I felt at home in the tropics, my heart full of love and happiness for the first time in a long while.

Never again will I settle for second best, nor for anything short of extraordinary, unconditional love.