I miss the weather. Believe it or not, I miss the stultifying, sticky, oppressive heat, that burns your feet through the soles of the shoes, that turns the air above concrete and tarmac a shimmering white.
I miss Orchard Road, again, believe it or not. More like, I miss wandering down Orchard Road with you, going in and out of shops, the smell of Ion and the jingle of jewellery in Forever 21. I miss standing in Borders next to each other, browsing books and magazines, I miss you standing outside dressing rooms and appraising each outfit with that uncanny eye.
I miss how we groaned over cheeseboards at Jones the Grocer, extravagant but exquisite right down to the aroma of the cheese filled peppers and every sliver of quince and walnut jelly.
How the neighbourhoods looked under clouds so wispy they could have been painted by a brush; and always under the most glorious flaming sunsets, sunsets I have never seen paralleled anywhere even though I've been on Balinese beaches, on the sea just by Kerala, under the Barcelona sky. I miss that.
I miss my friends from work (although I'll be the first to admit that is the ONLY thing I miss about work) and how we would go everywhere together, even hang out on weekends because we had become best friends in those three years and no one outside of us would understand it.
I miss going out late at night, when the paper had been pushed and everybody else was in bed and Kim would drive with the windows down and no seatbelt on and we would go to all kinds of random bars and pretend to be depressed or gossip or bitch, but laughing, always laughing.
I remember when someone came by my desk, always piled so high with rubbish that Dianah would not shut up about getting me to clear it, and they said "All you have on here is letters from your friends. Do you really have so many best friends here?" And the truth is yes, I did and I miss them all.
I miss my family, because I know no matter how mad at me my mother is, I can talk in a voice that will make her laugh.
I miss especially my brothers because they understand almost everything I have to say and we make each other weep with laughter. I miss slouching over the couch and watching TV with them, or Hindi movies and listening to Hanshen laugh at the "Yindian camedy" and watching him reenacting the dances.
Hanwei and I used to walk almost every night after I went on no-pay leave, six, seven rounds of the estate talking about anything and everything under the stars until a shouting match one night made both of us cry and we made up when he said, "I love that we are close enough that we can fight like this and still be friends."
I yearn for how the city feels and smells because even though some say it's cold and too clean, it feels always alive and some people love it and it's my city and they can just go to hell.
And I love about it that at midnight, two, four in the morning, I can find any number of establishments open and ready to serve me the most eye-poppingly good food, sometimes with most skin-crawlingly bad service and that there is a cool, fragrant Starbucks round every corner where the staff joke with me and recommend me cake flavours and if it's not golden light that's pouring in, it's beautiful, blissful sheets of rain pouring down outside.
And I miss standing next to you, because I always have this laugh on when I'm with you, and I miss shooting each other with our Nerf guns and walking upstairs to get coffee with you and waiting to open capsules together and the time we went really crazy at the Toy and Comic convention and bought Smerry tofu and a blushing llama and I miss the walks to Parkway Parade where we would meander everywhere - across the playground and into the bookstore, into bubble tea and DIY shops.
I miss all the times we've strolled to the beach, all the times we've strolled anywhere - Toa Payoh, Upper East Coast, in the city. I miss sitting beside you in the car and talking about everything, sometimes, for so long that we have to park and turn the headlights off so we can argue. Tomorrow, I'm even going to miss being the designated driver. I miss how it feels to hold your hand.
And I miss you, little boy.
I miss you most of all because you can't call, or write or know that I dream about you almost every night, that I dream about the day when I will pick you up again and finger the rough pads of your paws and feel the whisper of you sniffing my ear and I wake up crying, filled with self-loathing and ashamed that I should be crying over a dog.
I miss you because I know you don't understand why I left or when I'm coming back, because even though it's been thirteen years, you panic every time I leave your sight and you only truly slept when I slept and woke when I woke and you will wait, just like you do outside every closed door I've ever been behind, gently scratching the wood, whining to be let in and the truth is every day I am dying, dying inside to fly back home just for you.
I have never felt so far from home before.