Monday, February 15, 2010

Up in the Air

I think I wrote about this a few years ago.

When I was in college, a fortune teller said that I would move from home to home, always on the road, without a real home, because in one of my past lives I was a normad.  I was only about 21, and thought that was really cool.  Being able to travel and see the world was my dream for many years.

A week ago I had drinks with a bunch of people not in my immediate circle.  One guy (30 years old) told us how much more he was enjoying traveling for business, flying business class to places (he had just been promoted), living by himself, and traveling alone as he became older.  Another girl and I both told him that was because it was new found freedom to him, but to us we had been exploring life alone for years already and it ceased to be special anymore.

Indeed I started living by myself soon after I turned 17.  I couldn't even fry an egg or cook instant noodles at that time.  Every 6 months to 1 year I moved homes during my stay in Toronto.  I went to Canada with only 2 suitcases, and each time I moved I had more stuff.  The longest I stayed anywhere was my parents home in South Horizons, where I lived with them for 4 years because I didn't have enough money to move out.  About 4 years ago I started living by myself again.  This is my third home since - which I am leaving in another month.

My first time flying alone was when I was 16, moving to Toronto.  My first time traveling on vacation alone was about 7 years ago to Bangkok and Phuket - I wanted a break between two jobs and decided to go alone.  I bought my first digital camera, a Canon IXUS, for the trip.  My first business trip was 5 years ago to Thailand.  I lost count how many business trips I have gone on since.  My last one was to Morocco.

Today, I am living alone again, having a nice long break from business trips.  I'm glad to be home finally, though home doesn't seem home anymore since he moved out.  It used to be our home.  After all these years, I finally yearn for companionship, stability and love.  Independence is a survival skill I mastered very well since a young age, but it's not my passion or life pursuit.  I watched Up in the Air with friends the other day and I could relate to the story very much.  George Clooney's character takes pride in the mileage points he accumulated, his elite status in different travel-related member programs, his familiarity with the air travel environment and process, because he is lonely and has no one to keep him grounded and give him life purpose.  He meets a fresh graduate colleague at work who has a very idealistic, simplistic view of life - which seems naive to him at first but later inspires him to find his anchor in life.  I've sort of also reached that stage too where I feel I have already spent enough time alone exploring, fully taking advantage of my freedom to be spontaneous and irresponsible at times - and I cannot explain how much I now want to stand still with someone and live a simple life.  People love my stories about traveling alone to some exotic places to take pictures, and the strange encounters I had during my travel because it is not the sort of thing they dare to do alone.  I used to enjoy it and feel proud to talk about my travel stories, but not anymore.  In the movie, towards the end, when George Clooney is asked to continue his business travels again, as if it was a privilege, he finally resents it.  Believe it or not, I feel the same now.  I traveled to 5 cities in Jan, went on 11 flights (6 of which long haul) to 3 continents, and visited my dream destination (Morocco) - only to come back to a half empty home in Hong Kong, losing a relationship and my happiest memories.  Sometimes it does take a trauma like this to realize what is important to you in life.

I treasure my years of freedom, independence and spontaneity.  They taught me a lot about myself and what I was capable of.  Now, at 33, I don't need to prove anything to anyone anymore.  I want a life companion.  Because, life really is so much more enjoyable when you have someone special to share with.  Your best memories are those when you were sharing a great experience with someone important, not when you were alone.

Go watch the movie, and treasure the special someone you have beside you.

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