Some people must live in great spaces. Where the sky goes on forever. Where everyone must bend to the land. Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown
There are places you’re born to and there are places you go.
Singapore is in my bones. I can’t escape the familiar comfort that its people, the “lahs, lors, and lehs” of Singlish, and the taste of nasi lemak, Hokkien mee and rojak give me.
But while my body belongs here, my soul yearns to go elsewhere.
I’ve had the privilege to travel around the world, but I’ve never felt at ease in cities. Even in the best ones, I feel cramped and uncomfortable among tall skyscrapers and bustling roads.
It’s in the wide open spaces, the crystal clear rivers and the imposing mountains where my heart feels at ease. When I can hear the quiet of the land.
My most recent journey to New Zealand affirmed all that for me. I’ve never felt more at home than outside in the country, more at peace.
I remember the mysterious white clouds that rolled in over the tops of mountains in Te Anau, one quiet morning. The sun turning the mountains of Wanaka fiery red, at the end of a deep valley. Turning back for one last look at Mount Cook, as we walked among wide open fields of gold.
I remember feeling free.
The moment I stepped back into the city, I felt my heart close in on itself. I realized, more than ever, how the land becomes you and you become the land. That how you feel isn’t always a barometer of your insides, but can be a sign of how your edges don’t line up with the outside.
Like all visitors, I’m most likely romanticizing the best of my short time away. For all that I love it, I’ve actually never lived close to the land; I’ve been a city boy for all my life. I might even hate it if I did move to the country.
But what I do know is that belonging is more than just a consequence of birth. There is a home for your bones, and a home for your heart, and sometimes they aren’t the same place.