“I’m sorry, but I’m leaving you. I’ve fallen in love with somewhere else, and you wouldn’t like her. But London is the place for me. I’ve fallen for her dingy, narrow streets. The 24-hour bagels on Brick Lane; the club kids in neon and glitter falling out of Boombox at 3 in the morning; the bands with their urgent, clashing guitars, cigarettes and floppy hair” (Letter To Singapore, Zing).
As a member of this restless generation, I feel strongly for the author’s aspirations, disillusionment and angst. There is so much more outside. It seems. London, New York, Paris – they are very nice cities. Like the author, I want to escape the judging lens here to somewhere I can be myself, to be “gay or straight, man or woman”. I want to live in a living city where life is spontaneous, adventurous, and exciting. Somewhere where I’d be free from shackles. A utopia on the other side. Pastures are always greener on that other side.
Then, I read this article again.
I still want to stay in another city for a while; however, my motivation to leave stems not from despair but from a desire to explore and experiment the foreign. I always thought we were a little quick to dismiss things gone wrong as the result of systemic fault or the problem of the government. It is how each individual responds to their circumstance that accounts for the dynamism or the lack of it. “It’s like that, what. I’ll never change.” Her laments and resignation to leave seem to perpetuate the very quality of Singapore she’s escaping. If only more of us are willing to inherit Singapore with more optimism and energy… And there are actually conscious efforts put in by the different stakeholders in the country to move the society forward which are neglected.
The reason why the author feels more accepted elsewhere – “London will still embrace me” – could be due to the fact that she is a foreigner – figuratively – in the city. Truthfully, it does not hurt as much when one exercises his individualism in an unfamiliar place where all the looks he gets are from strangers. They could easily be mistaken as acceptance when in fact they are actually mere tolerance. Precisely because we have family and friends here in Singapore that we feel the need to keep up a self-induced expectation. We are more wary of trying, revealing because we fear to face and / or lose the people we know. Singapore, per se, does not convict people and people do judge however liberal the city is.
It would be depressing if one were to leave Singapore and face another round of rejection and disillusionment over time. While it seems to be always greener on the other outside, we are always the outsiders looking at the other side. It is not easy to negate everything we have and assimilate into a new world. I don’t know… I could be too pessimistic or optimistic…
This article was written by NT; always looking, always searching.