27 November 2012


Dear Nicola, 

The day you walked into the RDA, a lost soul in need of someone to literally show you the way home, you changed my life. I won’t forget that day because I had dinner plans and helping you find your way made me miss my bus. Our second meeting brought pink dresses, bubbly drinks and a plan to see Carrie Underwood and some koalas, which we did, and it was amazing.

Your husband, Duncan, likely rolled his eyes at my Facebook friend request, especially since he and I had not yet met. It read: “I feel like we should be friends since we will likely be seeing a lot of each other once Nic comes back to town.” He believed me, accepted my request and probably never imagined just how much time we actually spend together (though it is quite funny how he will make fun of us if we go an entire day without a text or phone call between us).

Duncan is right when he says we are complete opposites in a lot of ways, but our love of food, Starbucks, talking to each other, listening to one another and being completely honest and telling each other exactly how crazy we are in the moment is what truly makes me appreciate having a friend like you here to share this experience. You are my Singaporean Katie. I could not be as sane, happy or social without you.

Dear Katie,

I had no problem leaving my job; I had no problem leaving my family. I, surprisingly, did not die of boredom on the 30+ hour commute. I didn’t feel lonely right away, but it didn’t take me long to realize what I was missing. In my first few months, I went back to my childishly shy ways. I was not super outgoing; I did not join organizations or associations right away. I was most concerned with finding food to fill my belly, a house that I could fill with stuff and finding my way from Point A to Point B without giving up or getting lost.

I quickly learned, however, that I missed the quality time with my favorite people. I remember having to go to the Ministry of Manpower to arrange for a resident card. When I finished, I walked outside and found a small Italian café with tables on the sidewalk overlooking the river. They served coffee, which I drank, wine, pizzas. As I sipped my coffee and watched the world around me, I thought about how great it would be to have you and Anna Marie with me. The perfect day would look like this: 

The sun would be shining, the sky would be blue, the temperature would be somewhere around 27 with a breeze. We would arrive at the restaurant around 10 and sit at an outdoor table so that we could watch the people walking by and floating on down the river. We would order coffee; Anna Marie would obviously finish her latte first, at a time I would bet would be around 2.5 minutes. We would sit and talk and enjoy our coffees. When it felt about that time, we would order some salads and pizzas to accompany our bottle of wine. Our bellies content, we would clear the food from the table and enjoy our wine, continuing our conversations and people watching through the afternoon. Somewhere around 2 it might be time for tea and dessert. Before we know it, we will have spent the entire day at an outdoor cafe and it would have been the best day of our lives - one that we would remember and appreciate forever because on that day, time did not matter.

As we crossed the finish line of our 20s and bore the last struggles of the decade, I realized that I would give anything to get on a plane and be with you; I also wished that I could fly you over here from time to time. I am very thankful that the technology geniuses have afforded us the ability to send free text messages and make free phone calls so that at least we get to feel a bit closer. Even though you are far, far away, I could not have kept my humor, my sanity or my sense of style without you.

Dear Moms,

For me, moving out of the house for the first time and moving into my freshman dorm room was harder than I expected. I remember crying as I hugged my mom and then calling her that first night. I didn’t think 3.5 hours was far enough from home but that day it felt like I was across the country.

When we first told you about the move, Paul and I went about the discussions in different ways. I slowly broke my mom in, telling her about Paul’s crazy applications (all of them) and the interview process. When we called to advise her we were moving, she gave a mom sigh and threw out some line about her “baby moving halfway across the world,” and a few sarcastic sniffles. I immediately said, “No, no. That won’t work with me. Your son left home to travel the world years ago, so just deal.”

Paul, on the other hand, took a different approach. “Hi. I applied for a job in Singapore and I got it. I think we’re going to move…in a month.” Paul’s mom flipped out. She eventually came around and her airport good-bye was reminiscent of my college good-bye, except Paul’s mom gave us strong man hugs, pushed us away and ran off before we could see her cry for days. She put up a strong front.

I am sure the time apart would be harder on all of us if technology were not as it is today. Thanks to Google, we talk via phone a few days a week and text and e-mail as needed. Thanks to Facebook, we can easily upload photos and make comments as we are so inclined. Thanks to you and your support, Paul and I have been able to transition smoothly, realizing that we don’t need to be so close all the time but that we appreciate the time we do have together. Without you both, we would not be here.

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