I bought some furniture today. A side table made of teak upcycled from old fishing boats, and a bookshelf. No big deal, right? I mean, people buy places to put their drinks and store their books. It's normal. It's part of being a grown up.
But this is, like, totally maj.
Not only can I stop storing my books in tottering piles on our windowsill, but it also signifies a state of mind: a cozy sense of permanence (insofar as one can expect permanence when one moves every three years.)
Before we begin, let's just put aside my conflicted feelings about consumerism, privilege, and the acquisition of more stuff for just a moment. Let's also shake off my vast discomfort with my own dearth of meaningful monetary contributions and subsequent relative economic disempowerment. Let's just focus on the fact that for the first time in this history of our Great Asian Adventure, I'm slowly setting down roots. I'm buying boxes and baskets, tables and shelves. I'm organising toiletries and toys, and slowly finding places for many sundry tchotchkes we've collected along our great trans-continental trek.
These roots, they'll likely be dug up and replanted in three years time. We'll find another pot, administer the right amounts of sunlight and rain, and cross our fingers, hopping that we flourish.
Yet, for now, I'm not thinking about that eventuality .
I'm here. I'm here. I'm here.
My man is here. My girl is here.
We're here together, and that's just where I want to be.
Three years ago, the picture was an exact negative of my current state of mind. My hormones raging with new life, and feet barely planted on Japanese soil, I was wilting.
I said to my husband, in the way that only a profoundly unhappy pregnant woman can, "If we're still in this city in 2012, it'll cost you. A rock on my finger. A big one. I need to be out of here before 2012."
Midway through the deadline year, there were still no escape plans afoot.
I spent a lot of time on airplanes during those three years in Japan. My husband sent hours scouring the internet for cheap flights, and sometimes for expensive ones, so that I could get home just as often as our bank account would allow.
My parents recently said to me, "We liked it so much better when you were miserable." They were joking, of course. But only a bit. Back then, I only wanted home. Now, home is here.
Three years ago, I wanted nothing to do with the cozyification our little apartment. For two years, we boiled water for tea in a sauce pan because I didn't want to buy a kettle.
My husband told me it was because I wanted out. If I bought picture frames for our walls or a kettle for tea, it signified that we'd stay in that apartment; we'd be stuck in that city with no sun to warm me and roots too wet.
Now, with the advantage of time and hindsight, I suppose, he was right. In Japan, I wanted nothing to do with any sort signifier of a long-term sojourn. I wanted nothing to do with tea kettles or picture frames that would lock me in and tie me down.
So here we are, in this new city, on a new island where car horns blare, and chaos reigns. I understand nothing, yet somehow everything makes sense. It fits here. I feel like this could last.
I'm comfortable. I'm putting down my roots, allowing myself to stretch out. These varied sundries, the vacuums, pillows, blankets and charming Indonesian handicrafts, they're fertilising this soil, fine-tuning my little microclimate for optimum growth.
After three years in Japan, I never did get my big rock. But I got something better. Landing here, on this island, where the sun shines and so do strangers' eyes, I'm finally extending my limbs upwards and outwards. I'm finally in a place where I know this little family will burgeon.