January has been draining.
After months of room-hunting, I viewed a room, signed the tenancy, and moved in within the span of two weeks. It may seem fast, but for me it was long overdue. I have wanted to move out for a while.
My new room faces Orchard Road, the heart of Singapore’s shopping district. When I look out of my window, I can see *SCAPE and the red façade of Ngee Ann City. There are two huge billboards that advertise shiny new phones and the latest Apple products. At night when I turn off the overhead lamp, the billboards flood my room with light.
The billboards – their excessive brightness – remind me of Times Square. But if I were to be honest, now that I have moved out, I am constantly reminded of my time in New York City. When I stayed in NYC I enjoyed every chore that other people must have found mundane – hauling my clothes to the laundromat, shopping at Trader Joe’s, washing the dishes, cleaning my room. And now I find myself doing the same – except I am in Singapore, and I’m shopping at NTUC instead of Dekalb Market, and there is no wind chill to make me shiver in my coat. I suppose I would grow to detest chores eventually, but for now every monotonous task is a sign I have finally hoisted off my family’s strong apron strings.
The first few days after I moved out, I was filled with a strange kind of detachment. I wasn’t elated that I had moved out. I was not sad either. For the first time in a while, I did not know how to read my future. Had I not moved out, I would have a predictable life trajectory. I’ll probably get my own flat at 35 years old, and because that would make me a homeowner, Singapore would sink its roots into me and I would be anchored here. The idea alone fills me with a form of quiet despondency.
But now that I’ve moved out, I am no longer certain of anything. I may have a room now, but I may move out in a few months. Tenancy changes, unpredictability, finances and life in general mean that nothing is set truly in stone for the next few years. It is a strange kind of unmooring.
I am not daunted by unpredictability. Now that I gained it, what I fear is losing this precious independence.