Day 1 of 100, Singapore
Well, that went well.
Once in a while, flying has goes utterly pear shaped. Sunday night’s flight to Copenhagen didn’t happen after all, because junior airline staff, whose only jobs are to check passengers and baggage in compliantly, tried to play customs officers. As a result, I couldn’t get on my flight, and Flemming, who was on a different flight to the same destination, had to cancel his, and have his bags pulled off the plane. There was a considerable loss of money involved (2 cancelled tickets to Europe from Singapore), and I have begun the resolution process with the airline, but I don’t have much hope that they will do the right thing. I am, after all, just another passenger paying for an economy class ticket. Another number on what I assume is a burgeoning list of numbers. The irony that I was standing in line below a sign announcing “World Traveller” while the service staff were trying to advise me on visa rules that they knew nothing about (which F and I could probably open a consultancy for), was not lost on me.
I am disappointed, more than a little angry. But I’m trying to keep my cool and remember that it could have been worse. We did have Mum’s to come back to, and time to assess the situation, agonize over how much money we’ve lost (an enormous sum, for freelancers) and see when we want to head to Europe.
We will see.
So F and I are still in Singapore, for how long, we don’t know yet. Today we went to meet with someone who works on a bridging mission between a hospital and a hospice. We toured the brand new hospice facility, taking in with appreciation, the small touches that welcome sunlight and green growing things: small reminders of life’s sweetness, right till the end. Said friend’s name incorporates the word “joy,” and she transmits that. That deep wellspring suffused with meaning and richness of a life well lived, which is often advertised as only achievable with status-infused gain (not true). The circumstances in which we met her would make for a novel, in all honesty, a tale that involves several continents, a see-saw of connections that span generations across three quarters of the world.
Later, while we enjoyed a mid afternoon stroll in the stillness of MacRitchie Resevoir Park, a missive bearing bad news pinged in from one of my dearest, oldest friends. I was floored.
A reactionary texting of love, slowed with sweaty, too-big fingers.
“I’ll write later, when I am home,” I promised. All I want to do is head straight over and give her a big, eternal hug.
All I could do, was hope that my words – and their projections of love and support, impotent though such things seem, especially given the distance between us – are of some comfort.
Today I decided I would write again. If you have been following this journal, you’ll know that I have all too frequently considered getting rid of it. I am a photographer after all (or, I think I would like to be), so I should be concentrating on my photographic work, instead of paltry blog entries, which is what this journal has been reduced to.
In part, this is affected by the layout of this site. In the coming week I will be shifting the blog away from its primacy on this site, to alleviate the anxiety about its position – front and center of the site – every time I want to post something. That will help. In other part, the public nature of this journal has me second guessing any possible repercussions. I am not equipped to write about anything important to the rest of the world. It’s funny: hang around enough photographers in real life or online, and you feel like you are morally obliged to be a journalist / activist of some description. Which is not a bad thing, if you are that way inclined. Goodness knows the world needs more fighters. I doubt I’d make a good run of either.
But I am reminded that others who have fought so that I – a minority, a woman – and others like me can enjoy the privileges that just a generation or two ago, we might not have. Perhaps living the way I do – seizing the privileges that afford me such freedom and independence to pursue things that were not meant for those like me – is my own small contribution to this process. I am still not convinced that I have the right to enjoy the freedoms that I do. Possibly because I am still struggling to understand what I am. I only know that I am not what I was brought up to be: an educated, accomplished, successful, beautiful (of course) mother-type who is bringing up the next similar generation for the nation. I have failed on every single one of those accounts. What I actually am though, I don’t think I’ve figured out yet. I cannot fight if I don’t know why I believe so deeply in the things that call to me.
I often say that I’ve grown more in the past 4 years than I had in the 32 proceeding them. Losing a parent was a pivotal milestone in the growth process, but the years after that have been so focused on scrabbling to make a living that I’ve really not taken stock of what I’ve become in that time, and my journal keeping too, has withered along with the frenetic demands on a messy mind. Writing centers me, and in not writing, I’d also given up the associated solitude that allows me to process and center my perspective.
I have some hard decisions to make this year. And I am utterly unable to write about them. So I will keep a public diary instead on this blog, for a hundred days. Every day, some small observation of beauty, or a lesson, or appreciation of connections, these things that make our world, and lives, go round. It will likely not be an essay like this one, which was provoked by the intensity of this day. But two lines are better than none.
You are welcome to join me for the next 99 days of this Hundred Day Diary. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be when these hundred days are over, or what situation will find me.