Settling In

So here we are in Montgomery, capital of the State of Alabama
It isn’t the safest place to be, we were told (then again, no place on earth can be quite as safe as Singapore)
Its public school system isn’t quite the best in America
There are places where we wouldn’t want to hang out at especially with kids
And there are neighborhoods where many of us wouldn’t want to live in
And then there are the tornadoes that touch down annually in the vicinity
Sounds pretty scary to me

We arrived and for a week we lived in a hotel room with an antique red carpet, no kitchen and no living area
I squirmed every time the kids played on the floor
They would crawl on the carpet in their pajamas and then climb into bed
Here, nobody takes off their shoes at home, much less in a hotel room
You can imagine what lives in the carpet, and how they have now migrated into our bed

So there we were, 2 kids, 8 luggages, living in a cramped up hotel room for an unknown period of time
It was a good thing that we were so busy that we were out most of the time and only came back to the room after dinner
There were a couple of days when we were stuck in the room while the Dad ran errands
In times like those, the dollar bubble sword from Target was a life saver

Within a week, we ate more pizza and Popeye’s chicken than we had eaten in a year
I couldn’t imagine doing that for another week
I knew we had to find a place fast

It was like running against time
There weren’t many choices, especially when we need a place to stay urgently
Within a couple of days, we managed to arrange to view 3 houses
We narrowed our choices down to 2 and finally decided on the one in a safer neighbourhood

It was a red brick house with a chimney; one that reminded me of The 3 Little Pigs
Even so, I wasn’t sure as we signed on the dotted line

I felt that we should have spent more time hunting for that perfect place
Yet I know delaying any further would be stressful for everyone in the family

We met the owner of the place, a very nice retired African American couple
who cleaned the house so well that I was put to shame
I had to steal some tips from them on how to get the shine on the stainless steel faucets all round the house

We moved in on Sunday, a week after we arrived
This place is about 3 times the size of our house back home
And it feels even bigger when it is totally empty
I foresee myself becoming enslaved to this space, cleaning and mopping all the time
But I shall deal with that later

Meanwhile, the kids are loving the yard that is big enough for a soccer match
And they had been very curious about what went on behind those fences

As for myself
I went for my first jog on Monday morning at 6.30 am
Took this with my phone at 7.00 am
Reached home safe

Okay, I think it isn’t too difficult to like this place





Heylo Good Ol’ Friend

It was the first place we ran to
It was like seeing a good ol’ friend
Everything still looks the same

I used to love the red, especially when it said ‘Clearance’ or ‘Sales’
that made me go on a hysteric rampant shopping spree
Yet this time I was mindful
I am still repenting

So we badly needed something to drink
It took us 15 minutes to walk
Under the blazing sun, badly jet lagged
It was just across the hotel we were staying

And I remember why nobody walks here
Everything is near by car but far by foot

Everything is huge
The buildings, the parking lot, the houses, the food servings
even the windows in our hotel were humungous

It was different from where we came from
And it took some getting used to

Yet as I looked back my life for the past decade
This was where I spent some of my happiest days

And I finally figured out why
Because this place has what we don’t have back home

Land is wide
Space is in abundance
Even the sky looks bigger and bluer

And I think for once, I am on the side where the grass is greener




About Packing

So the day that had caused us much anxiety and put us under weeks or perhaps months of madness finally arrived
We lugged 8 luggages, a stroller and a carseat, flew half way round the globe and made it to Montgomery

The kids were amazingly well behaved and cooperative throughout the flight
They slept when they were tired and ate when they were hungry
At Seoul’s Incheon Airport, they entertained themselves, scootering and dancing around in luggage trolleys

Yet earlier on at the departure gate, as we bade goodbyes to our families, the reality hadn’t quite sunk in for me
In 25 hours’ time, we would set foot in a totally new place and start our new lives
With new house, new schools, new routines and new people to meet
It is exciting and it is scary

To someone who once said I was fearless
I couldn’t say it better than Mark Twain
Courage is resistance and mastery of fear, not the absence of it

Many said, we had done this before
Yes indeed but the fact is, experience didn’t reduce the things we needed to do
Neither would it have made the move any less painful if we hadn’t learned the lessons each time

I ended up having to part with so many things for the last couple of weeks, that at one point, it hit me that I had been so imprudent for all the money, time and effort spent in accumulating those things, which did very little in improving our lives and  then, we had to go through the emotional turmoil of parting with them

I probably wouldn’t have came to this if not for the few major moves that we had gone through for the last decade
Yet what’s life if not for the striving for material gains and status
I stood between realisation and wonderment

We started living from our lugguage a week before we left
We moved into a temporary lodging
Caught our last sun set in Singapore from there

The only toys we brought along for the kids were their Lego
And for 1 week, they played nothing but Lego

They played Minecraft, not from iphone but using Lego Duplo
They built houses so that the zombie couldn’t attack them at night
They built planes and futristic aircraft

Back in our home, they hadn’t play that much Lego
I realised they were given too many toys and too many choices
And it would be our fault if they hadn’t learned prudence and contentment

As I sat in the plane, watching the first ray of light does it wonder
Lighting up the horizon in mystical colours
While snuggling up close to my husband, with my 3 1/2 year old sleeping soundly in my lap
and my 9 year old boy snoring despite sleeping in a very awkward position

I realized that I would have packed everything with nothing
So long as the family stays together



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