The Places We'll Go
Cow on Limestone Kiln, Meghalaya, 2006
Five years ago, I said: “Ask me again a year, three, or five from now and all I will remember is driving up, around, up, around, up, around, in the swirling clouds as the rain lashed at my windows and I feared for my life, balanced so daintily in this tin can navigating itself on the hairpin road.”
Plenty has changed, these five years, but at least this part remains familiar: “Ask me again a year, three, or five from now and I will still tell you the same thing: I’m not sure why I do the things that I do.” Then, I was referring to the heady, exciting days of a student who had the chance to criss-cross across the hill tribes of northeast India and investigate the ailments of rural Bangladeshis suffering from leprosy, TB and lymphatic filiarisis. I got to go on the amazing adventure of my life, never really expecting it to end. It hasn't.
Much has changed, but adventure has never left me.
The last five months have been tumultuous. It was the sort of chaos that was ultimately a blip in the universe (though still a large one), and not, thankfully, the sort that led to destruction and the end of the world as I knew it.
In a few days I will make that trip to Kuala Lumpur for the last time. It will be awkward. On it, I will return to the apartment I've had for two years, but haven't lived in for the last five months, and I will assemble everything that I own in that city and that country, and pack it into several boxes. I last packed all the things I owned in the universe into several boxes under far happier circumstances. This time I pack a dog into the car, too.
I don't regret a moment. Life has dealt me a pretty good lot, and I have milked it for what it's worth. So from Singapore to Dubai and the Middle East to London to Kuala Lumpur I now find myself surprisingly, but not that much, in Singapore. I left a Singapore I didn't like very much, and returned to a Singapore I absolutely love (there's an essay in that somewhere). You can't come home again, but you can definitely make it home again, for the first time.
The single life is interesting, but difficult, in equal parts. I haven't dated in such a long time, I really don't have it in me anymore.
The life with hyperthyroid is worse.
I can't remember shit. I quite literally feel like I've lost a major chunk of my former cognitive abilities. It sucks.
How am I dealing with all of this? I'm… dealing. If you know me in real life, you probably can't tell. I've worked very hard to keep it invisible. My heart rate still goes nuts. I drop a ton of weight or I put it back and I drop it again. I am manic and then I am exhausted. I am utterly intolerant to heat, even in an air-conditioned room I am hot. I don't need any medical diagnosis here (I am actively under the care of the medical professionals here, no worries). I just wish I could get my memory back. I've gone from one of those people with super memories to one of those who has to scribble down everything. I don't remember people I've just met (this has never happened before), I don't remember even meeting them, most of the time. It's amazing I can even work at all.
The last five months have felt like a massive blur. I feel like time and space has compressed for me. Or that I'm living in a time warp, splitting myself between two universes. One: pre-illness, pre-breakup, pre-everything. When life was, I thought, sorted. For the time being. The second one, the one I inhabit right now: plagued by a disease that doesn't threaten but bothers me, learning to find my feet again without the woman I love and the life and businesses we had. Breaking up gets more and more expensive as you get older.
I'm okay, I'm good, I'm pretty happy (seriously) — I was just telling someone that I thrive in change in ways that many people don't understand, but I do. Change works for me.
I should be more careful what I wish for, you know? Now there's so much of it I am still finding my feet, but I'm not sure how. That suits me fine for now.
It's just that I hate packing.