14 May 2013


I feel like I am living the anti-Singapore life. Instead of sleeping until whenever I felt like it most days, most days now I awake to an alarm after going to bed around midnight. Instead of meeting friends for coffee, having a cup of coffee to myself at home, or working, reading or just relaxing in a coffee shop in Singapore, I now grab coffee on the go and I have no friends. Seriously.

I had a moment a couple weeks ago when I suddenly realized that I have no friends in Salem. Yes, I have many people with whom I am friendly – church people, restaurant people – but I am missing the women in my age bracket with whom I can discuss life in general and the stresses that accompany that general stuff.

I used to spend a lot of time going to the grocery, running to three different stores in order to find the food that would be consumed in the upcoming few days. I admit that I do go to the store quite often but that’s just because my dumb brain cannot seem to get everything I need at the time. Like tonight, for instance. I made a list of what I needed, like I often do. I just needed a few things and I wasn’t in the mood to browse, so I began my mission.

Darting for the Wal-Mart pharmacy/cosmetics section, I immediately grabbed Paul’s mouthwash (though there were way too many choices), found the mascara his mom needed (or so I thought) and then I made my way to the home goods section and immediately steered my cart into the familiar clothing storage aisle I had previously seen on two other occasions. I picked out a DIY closet with a few shelves for Paul since our makeshift rental house didn’t actually come with any closet space or chest of drawers. I had everything on my list so I headed out and headed home.

After a bit of work on my end – and about a half inch left in the space from floor to ceiling – I assembled Paul’s makeshift closet. Staring at this monstrosity, I realized my error. I bought the closet thing but, since we didn’t have a closet ourselves, I was short about two dozen hangers. Awesome. And off to the dollar store I went.

Now, I will say that the part of my life that involves driving myself to the store on my own will and schedule and placing the items in my car after pushing my cart to my car instead of lugging bags along my arms as if I was a coat rack is quite convenient.

The real shocker, however, is what I do not any longer bring home: food. The first week I was in town and in my little house, I went to the store for the basic essentials. I knew that I would have an opportunity to be fed at the family restaurant so I knew I would just need a few things. I bought eggs, bread and milk, butter, cereal, grape juice, yogurt, some healthy V-8 juice drinks and some Triscuits and Nila Wafers on which to snack.

A month later, I have just this morning opened the bread and the butter, I have just used the eggs and broke the seal on the grape juice. Since I moved here, I have not attempted to make a single dish other than the overcooked eggs I made Paul and myself for breakfast this morning. I had to throw away my milk because it went bad before I could use it.

Here’s the thing: families in the restaurant business don’t have any food in their house. I first learned this mantra when I began dating Paul. Funny enough, I didn’t actually understand why they never had food in their house, even though, ironically, Paul’s mom was always trying to get me to eat something. Now I get it. I am just not here to eat the food I purchased. When I think about the possibility of ordering takeout or stopping at a drive-thru in town, my brain says, “go to Annabell’s because it’s great food and I get a family discount.” So I eat at Annabell’s.

My days have also altered. In Singapore, weekends were very relaxed, as were most days to be honest. We made a vow to only leave the house on Sundays in order to attend church. Only stupid people or desperate people went out to fight the weekend crowds. Now that I am here, my weekends are constantly booked.

I had the first two weeks free, working at the restaurant and attending church Saturdays and Sundays. Last week I was in Jersey/NYC with Paul, yesterday I was with Paul’s family for his brother’s doctoral graduation and this weekend I will be prepping for and celebrating Paul’s sister’s wedding shower. We have a trip to Columbus in the works for the following week, which will likely be nonstop. Then Paul leaves, we have a graduation party and I might have a free weekend before the wedding. Suddenly I am realizing that the books I planned to read might not actually get read.

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