It is one thing to pack and get ready for a three-week holiday in Singapore, and another thing completely to unpack and be done with a three-week holiday.
We flew off on Sunday morning 925 am Singapore time, arrived in Seoul after a 5.5 hour flight for what seemed like a ridiculously long line waiting for airport staff to check bags of transiting passengers (and for some reason, they were suspicious of two toy trains my husband was carrying for the boys), then finally after 9 hours, arrived early in SFO only to have to wait on the plane for 20 minutes before the gate was available. Then the usual long waits for immigration and bags. And then it was home, thanks to a neighbour who picked us up for the hour-long drive home.
Home to a cold, quiet house.
“I forgot what our house looked like,” said the four-year-old.
They were relatively refreshed, after having slept for a few hours on the last leg of the flight.
I couldn’t. I’m never any good on planes, never was. And this time had to take Panadol to quell an impending headache and decline the dinner meal after the food smells completely overwhelmed me.
The kids remarkably lasted until bedtime, although bedtime was an early one last night. However, just an hour or so later, the two-year-old was sobbing. He would proceed to wake up crying every hour, having to patted to sleep. At one point he asked me, “are we going to mama’s house tomorrow? I want mama to come pick me up, ah kong to pick up gege”. Mama is what they call their paternal grandmother, ah kong is paternal grandfather.
It must be so hard for him to understand, that they are half a world and many time zones away, and no longer in the same room, same house, same country as they are. It made me tear up as I tried to calm him down, promising to Skype them and let him see them.
I was intending for this post to be a It’s Monday post, but as I was reflecting on the past day, in my somewhat tired state, I just thought it would be about all this.
All the unpacking, putting away clean clothes, washing dirty ones. All the toiletries, all the miscellaneous things that one finds wondering, now why did I bring that for?
All the unpacking of biscuits and goodies from Singapore. Some bubble-wrapped in the hope of avoiding crumbs.
There were presents for under the Christmas tree, there were books and toys for the boys.
And there were three weeks gone, away from our house in California, now not really feeling so much like home in its chilly hushed state.
It was a night of getting used to the cold, a night of getting used to wearing socks and sweaters around the house, a night of getting used to the quiet, the very quiet of the suburbs we live in. The train sounds its horn in the distance, some cars rev by, an ambulance or fire truck rushes off, siren blaring. But it is still very quiet. In Singapore, there is always noise, a motorcycle, buses, airplanes, a neighbour’s child crying, someone’s TV on too loud, a dog barking, the aircon whooshing out cold air in a desperate effort to cool the house down. And those noisy mynahs that chatter way too early in the morning, right outside the window.
We always think about going back.
(edited to add: I hope to get back to writing some bookish bits again, once things settle down)