The Break Down

I knew it was coming.  It’s possible it was simply two years late.  I walked into through the sliding automatic door, past the deli and the Keno display and strode boldly — much more than I felt — down the cheese aisle and, yeah.

Crap.  Here it comes.

I read about this, of course.  Hells, every second article or blog about moving to Singapore seemed to involve it.  The inevitable supermarket break down.  Full on bawling; somewhere between the milk, surrounded by a legion of unfamiliar brands, their cheerful colors impassive and uncaring.  Hor fun and bottles of fish sauce smiling down at you, oh, look at ang mo cry, so sad, lah.

So I knew it was coming.  I tried to hold it in, but to no avail.  Saints and angels take notice.  Let every man with ears listen! 

The thing is, familiar brands peered upon me.  Oh, hi, Tillamook, been a while, old chap.  Yes, I know your first name, bologna, it’s O-S-C-A-R.  Philly cream cheese, there you is, dawg.

It didn’t help.  I stopped my walk, somewhere between the pre-sliced salami and honey-roasted ham, before the bricks of golden cheddar, held my head in my hand and broke right the fuck down there in Lamb’s Thriftway.  Not in Cold Storage, Giant, FairPrice, or Sheng Siong, but in Lamb’s fucking Thriftway.  Not over $13 strawberries but in the same aisle which I’ve been getting cheese and lunch meats for the better part of six-plus years.

Just, right there.  Broke down and started crying.  I’m sure it was a sight to see.

Repatriation is a hard process.  When we moved, Bev and I had a plan.  We had our first week planned out.  We had the research, we had the relocation company.  We had a support group, we had mentors.  Yes, it too was hard.  There were challenges about getting around, getting used to the abysmal heat1seriously that first fucking week.  35 Celsius is not fun with 90% humidity.  There was the loneliness early on when Bev had to go out of town and I knew nobody.  But it was expected.  We planned on it.

Here, though, nobody expects you to break down in a fucking supermarket crying over cheese as if represented all that you had loved and lost2yes, yes, I’m aware that I once was serenaded with “Have I told you lately, that I love cheese?”  We’re all just so funny, aren’t we?.  Nobody expects you to need a support group; and that includes yourself.  Why would you?  Haven’t you lived in this place before?  Haven’t you walked down that same damn cheese aisle a hundred times?

Except you haven’t.  That person that did, they don’t exist any more.  That person is a relic, a ghost.  This is the new you and the new new normal doesn’t mean that the same trip down the same aisle is going to yield the same results.  In that regard, repatriating is much like insanity, doing the same thing and expecting new results.

So.  I broke down crying.  I won’t ever pretend that I didn’t.  I have to own now that I am not the same Josh, but the next version.


The next version of Josh is having some serious issues finding a fucking job or finishing a draft of a book.  Granted, after my past posts, it’s not completely unbelievable that I am no closer to finishing the last draft.  There are a lot of questions I simply haven’t asked of my cast of characters.  How do you all know each other?  Which one of you is the most likely to be a mass-murdering psychopath?  You know, the usual get-to-know type questions.

However, the new writer’s group I’ve found has proved to be an engaging group, if a bit unfortunately timed; Tuesday afternoons may not the best time once I get a job.  But, you never know what is going to happen so carpe writer I always say.

(As an honest aside, I am seriously craving churros.)

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