I have a lovely room here in Singapore. It looks out over the ocean and features a comfortable bed and big wardrobe. Everything has a place in my room – there is even space for books (when I get them) and my wine glass (when I figure out what to fill it with).
Today I helped a new friend move into her room. It is a lovely room with ensuite, bar fridge, a maid at her disposal and a welcoming family who met her upon arrival with a Chinese New Year card, mandarins and biscuits.
“I’m so happy,” she said to me as she opened the biscuits to share, “because we both have the rooms we need.”
And we do. We have rooms that reflect who we are, where we are, and what we want from our experience in Singapore. Mine allows me independence and solitude, an inspiring view, and an easy commute to work. Hers gives her a sense of family and belonging, knowledge of being taken care of, and a central location so she does not have to exert too much energy getting what she needs when she needs it. We are in Singapore for different reasons: she is brought here by her health and a need to “slow down” in her work so that her body may heal. I am brought here by a sense of adventure and eagerness to satisfy the many cravings I have for travel, teaching, writing, and (a craving recently discovered) popiah.
I have my room here and, like anything in a writer’s life, my room means a lot more than a place to keep my stuff.
My room is big and white and still needs filling. It is no longer a tiny box with mismatched odds and ends representing my feelings of a temporary existence. I have blank walls to cover with paintings, empty cupboards to fill with books, and a vast ocean beyond my window that changes each day as the ships come and go. I actually have room in my room for the things I want to do – I have room for books, for writing, for friends to visit, for me. It is the right room and I have the right room because I’ve made room for the things I want in life.