At the top of the “to do” list …

A week passes and there is little written on this blog … and then it’s two weeks, and suddenly a room full of suitcases (yes, that’s an accurate description of my bedroom) feels somehow empty and my laptop buzzes away with the promise of “soon” and the reality of “ohdeargodswheretheheckismylist”.

I’ve had weeks to prepare. I’ve boxed books, donated clothes, released treasured items into the care of others, and wondered what the heck I was thinking when I – ugg boots, pyjamas and hot drink-with-a-book girl – opted for a country whose only variation in weather is the level of humidity. Really … WHAT WAS I THINKING?

In the past two weeks I’ve re-packed my suitcase at least once a day, usually twice or thrice. I am Little Miss (dis)Organised – I am giving the illusion of organisation but I’m really not. At all.

I am a list writer, a planner, an organiser – so why can’t I do this now?

Part of me has procrastinated over the “final stages” of getting ready in case my new employer calls and says “actually, we changed our mind, we don’t want you”. Part of me has procrastinated because I’m worried I’ve made a mistake – I wake up in the middle of the night thinking What have I done? and spend hours staring at the wall wondering why, why, why.

Don’t get me wrong – I am happy. I am looking forward to the Big Move, to the change, to the adventure … so why are my little self-doubt voices visiting yet again?

I’ve written lots of lists but it is so easy to say “I’m putting everything in storage and just taking the bare essentials” but then to actually do it … Argh!

Today is the last day I have to get everything ready before going interstate for Christmas. It’s also the day I’ve spent longest staring at my suitcase wondering what else can be sacrificed. And I know that as long as I arrive at the airport with my passport, ticket and credit card, I’ll be fine … but it’s nice to have something fresh to get changed into after an eight hour flight.

My biggest panic is clothes. I’m not worried about my skill as a teacher, or my addiction to books, or my need to scribble down thoughts and ideas as I sit on a train or bus … I am terrified of the person who looks back at me when I put on “work” clothes to make sure they fit before I pack them. I am happiest in jeans and a t-shirt – if I can’t spend the day in pyjamas, that is. High School worries of “what will they think of this top” and “will I look like the others” and “how the heck do I wear that shirt with the tie thingy” and “oh my gosh I look like a kid playing dress up” are plaguing me. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see the person I think I am. I don’t see the funky hair or the unique dresses or the fabulous boots.

This … girl woman person cannot possibly be me.

She has brown hair and wears flat shoes, a black skirt, and a collared shirt. She looks like a grown up.

… She’s me.

I’ve been here before – last time I was a teacher. It lasted a whole year! I loved it and hated it – I left it.

Most of my friends have husbands and children. They’ve got mortgages and careers and Mother’s Club. I’ve been the wanderer, the one who changes jobs almost as often as hair colours, the one whose happiest memories involve a 30 litre backpack and no set plans beyond getting on a train and seeing where it goes. I still have a prepaid phone because a two year contract seems so long! I have spent the past year not buying a decent mattress and a proper desk and chair because “I don’t know if I’ll be around to use them and wherever I end up, I may not be able to take them with me”.

I don’t commit.

Yet here I am. Two year contract, brown hair and sensible shoes.

Last time this happened, I stopped writing. I was very conscious of several things when I chose this position in Singapore, one of which is my need to write. I know I will continue writing, but I cannot shake that horrid feeling of deja vu.

What I’m worried about isn’t anything to do with the climate, the people, or the sacrifice of books … it’s to do with the grown up I’ve become and the awareness of the responsibilities come with it. And the terrible, terrible fear that now that I’m a grown up, I’ll forget the magic that happens in the early hours of the morning when the muse visits.

Dear Muse:

I promise I won’t neglect you; please keep visiting me.

– Stef


6 comments on “At the top of the “to do” list …

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  6. Singapore is teeming with expats in all sorts of jobs so I think there’s no need to worry about looking different. 🙂 Have a great time! It’s going to be doubly hectic for you during this time but enjoy the holidays nevertheless. 🙂

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