Day 366: October 22
With a very trying half-week behind me, and having only said goodbye to my Rebecca a few days earlier (she left Jakarta for Singapore on Monday morning; I left Wednesday afternoon), it was with a perhaps unexpected level of trepidation that I left for the Lion City.
First off, we’d had some worries about what our one-year anniversary meant to us. Our first encounter at travel trade show ITB a year ago, while clearly significant, was colored with a few elements that have had some resonance ever since.
Not only that, but my experience of Singapore had largely been negative up to that point. As I’ve related to Rebecca and a few others, my first brush with the place involved an early flight coupled with the onset of severe flu, carrying tens of magazine copies (yes, even tens weigh a ton), and, on arrival, a panel discussion with Nancy Novogrod, veteran editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure magazine, as well as Lucas Krump, the Ari Gold of my then-magazine’s commercial side (Entourage fans take note).
Subsequent trips always revolved around trade shows, and I view trade shows like I view house spiders. I cannot stand to be around them or even aware of them, but I know they serve a purpose; they are a necessary “evil” in God’s good world. And largely given the company I was always in (expat party people) and having been in the grip of an emotional deadness for decades of my life, there was normally only one way to kill off the long, lonely hours of empty trade show tedium: by drinking to blackout excess at evening parties.
No more. Don’t get me wrong, though. This trip got off to a very inauspicious start. The flight from Jakarta was delayed. Twice. When I arrived at Singapore, I signed up for a local SIM card without activating my BlackBerry service. I sms’ed Rebecca twice, forgetting that it cost her the earth to receive SMS’s. Moods and tempers were frayed on arrival.
But as soon as I saw my Rebecca, I melted and I think it’s fair to say she did too. I then realized that I always would melt like that, and that I really am destined to mope and whinge when she leaves me for Bali or even to the shower, and to wag my tail, thumping it on the floor, when I see her again. Well, I am a Chinese metal dog… And what followed was an enchanted night, too.
But it was not until the next day that the real magic happened. First, I was in Singapore, shopping at Ion Orchard, and not hating it. This, for me, is akin to sprouting wings and flying. The fact that Rebecca is such a gifted shopper and can find me a shirt, or a tie, or a jacket that we both love really helps. And we laugh. We joke. We share. This is all so new to me still.
Our eyes even alighted on the same blue tie and said: that one!
Second, the evening was a surprise. While I love certain events, and certainly love those in which I can see and be seen with the only woman in the room that counts, trade show events leave me cold. Rebecca twisted my arm to visit this one particular show, and I went with (I thought hidden) reluctance.
The party was nothing special, though not as bad as many. But as Rebecca put my glass down and led me outside, I felt the “little boy lost” come out in me again, as Rebecca seemed a little angry. Had I been a bad boy? I had had a few drinks, but I wasn’t drunk. I did ask if we could have a cigarette… But we didn’t.
But she had a plan, of course. She led me to the waterfront so we could see the hotel where we met (at an event party, of course) and the hotel where we stayed. And as if that wasn’t magical enough, she then gave me the sweetest present I’ve ever received. Words fail me (they seem to when I’m with Rebecca in Singapore) as to how that affected me. Suffice it to say that I knew and know that this is it.
We had other great times there after that night, and the Hotel Fort Canning deserves, and will get, a separate review. But sitting here at Changi, washed over with love and not with boozy nausea, I know that this was meant to be. That night was truly special, and our actual anniversary day out in Singapore on the 21st was full of laughter and love and life.
All trips should be like this. And they will be.