Novena to Orchard and Everything in Between

I’m typing this as I walk; from Novena where I had been studying to Orchard where I will be having a family dinner. It’s my brothers birthday today, and so that seems to be the occasion for this dinner. We congregate for many reasons, birthdays being the excuse for a more elaborate scheme of reunion.

The weather is nice; I can see some leaves falling from the trees as the wind berates them, buses edging past me emitting warm air like giant hair dryers. I’m passing by the Hotel Royal, grey bricked and in severe need of a renovation. “Tenerife Sea” plays on my iPod and I’m reminded of when I’d lie down in bed and close my eyes with this song on repeat, thinking of nothing in particular. 

The trees are lined up to my right, looking bigger in the twilight, towering over the road and shading me from the already non-existent sun. A jogger flows past and I feel the silent rush of gentle wind generated. A man walks past with his miniature dog, which I believe fell through the evolutionary cracks thanks to our human charity. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that we care for these little dogs more than we do actual people. But who am I to dictate how people feel about the things they love?

When you’re walking by yourself and actually looking around you it starts becoming clear, that spending alone time is absolutely crucial. After four, five, six days of spending time non-stop with people around you, talking, laughing, exploring and building you don’t stop to think about how exhausted you are. People are exhausting. Trying to figure them out, more so.

I’ve reached Newton, circumvented a very dangerous roundabout and am halfway to Orchard.  I don’t feel so bad, and walking still feels like a good idea. I walk past Sheraton Towers, where I had my JC Prom, where we had finished our exams and were under the spell of newfound freedom. We thought we looked good spiking our hair up, applying copious amounts of Gatsby wax and dousing ourselves in a pungent Calvin Klein scent. We thought we dressed well but I don’t know if we actually did. It sure felt like we did, and I remembered that for all it was worth the best dressed award went to a guy wearing shorts. Hey, maybe being different did have its merits. I’m not sure if society encourages such a perception to make the stand outs feel better, if there’s actually any grounds to such a sentiment. I will be honest, though. I’d never wear shorts to an event like that. It’s just too risky and well, being different was never something I wanted to display physically anyway.

Another set of joggers steam past, a man and woman duo this time. I wonder if they’re together. When you see a guy and girl doing something together you tend to wonder about these kind of things, or maybe this is just me. I wonder if one of them is more enthusiastic about this run than the other, whether one dragged the other along. Whether one was trying to impress the other. I read somewhere that dates with a heightened physical element in it tend to be more effective because letting out sweat triggers our “happy senses” by releasing dopamine, and so the date will always persist as a positive memory. Maybe that was what they were trying to achieve. Who knows?

The lights of Orchard Road dance dimly in the distance and within a space of a few minutes have fallen gently, then aggressively onto my skin. The sound of cars and chatter increase manifold and there is an overhanging smell of cigarette smoke. These stick to the peripheries like mussels on a jetty pillar. I smell Abercrombie and Fitch, blue and yellow Christmas lights appear. There are green lights as well. The girl in front of me is wearing a dress that would never, in a million years, be approved by her parents. Not that she would care, I suppose, and not as if the men around her would necessarily mind. Take out a few key players and everyone can be happy. This is as such with short dresses and politics.

Outside Shaw house I decide to stand still and take a breather, facing the road, the noise of cars, people and the hum of the lights forming an uncomfortable cacophony of materialistic madness. “In Your Atmosphere” by John Mayer plays on my iPod, and I am reminded of how this was my favourite song back in the day. What day, I end up asking, and when does a favourite song change hands, when do you realise that this particular song stops being your favourite song? Is it like lost love? Lost feelings?  You either slowly forget, or you wake up one morning and realise, no, it was never to be! Perhaps it is a combination of both, perhaps it is none. The lights look down and don’t seem to have an answer, either.

I snap out of my trance, and realise that I have to stop writing soon. I am about to meet people again, family members, my brother. It is his birthday. Yes, I remember. I remember. I cannot forget, the turning of the gears, the moving of the clock hands and the rising and setting of the sun demand that moments pass and I cannot forget.

Perhaps I believed that by getting lost in this ramble, I could have escaped, but I will always be wrong. Time will move on, people will exchange their words, ideas, glances, feelings and fluids. I would love to stay still, believe me, but God forbid that I ever realise that.

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