THE NOMAD

The Red Dot:  It was just a little less than 10 months ago that I had a flat to go home to after a day at work. I actually had an address to give to friends and colleagues, which wasn’t a hotel address. I wasn’t a nomad wandering the concrete desert strewn with high-rise buildings, malls and apartments. I had a semblance of home to go to – not just a room. But that changed since I arrived back more than a week ago. Now, my address is the same as the next tourist.

 One friend offered her flat but her words “only for a short period as I told you” triggered my alarm bell, making think twice of accepting the offer. I understand where she’s coming from – she’s very particular about privacy and the need not to have any one encroaching in her space. Also, I didn’t want to have to grapple with a sticky situation of feeling like a nomad and having to deal with a sensitive friend’s mood swings when I got home. Walking on egg shells is something I swore to myself I’d never do again. Another friend had his hands tied because he was already playing host to another nomad while and two other friends simply didn’t have a room to spare so I landed in a hotel.

Living in a hotel was my choice for the first week. I called it my re-orienting phase where I slowly switch from tourist to permanent resident. The subsequent weeks would have been my transition phase where I’d have lived with friends for, say, three weeks for the sole reason of not wanting to live alone yet. I wasn’t raised to be a free-loader; I know how not to wear out the welcome mat. Anyway, don’t get me wrong – I’m not an eremophobic. In fact, I like solitude. I like sitting by myself at Starbucks, sipping my green tea latte, watching people and reading a book. I like going to Cold Storage alone to amble through the aisles of vegetables, snacks and whatnot. I enjoy entering the movie house with my shadow, popcorn and bottle of water in hand, ready to escape from reality for a couple of hours.

Solitude, or “me-time” as others call it, is good for one’s sanity, I believe. It’s more than a good – it’s therapeutic – way to get to know yourself amidst the world in disarray. You catch up with your thoughts, dreams and, yes, grievances. You don’t answer to anyone or anything but yourself. You don’t have to compromise for the sake of someone else. You do what you want to do – foot reflexology, walk around in your undies in your flat, watch Cartoon Network all day, eat leftovers, practice yoga, talk to the plants, read or sleep. You don’t have to deal with other people’s angst about not having money after blowing off a month’s salary on a Miu Miu bag or not playing whoopee for more than a week.

Nonetheless, solitude can get overwhelming to the point that it seems to push you out of seclusion, egging you to connect with people and the world. It’s good for one’s sanity to let other people in their world or, conversely, enter the world of people. Prior to returning and leaving to return, my “me-time” and people-time were balanced to a certain degree until my friends left for other countries and the Moor reneged on his promise. Now the lines have blurred and I’m ensnared in the world of a nomad who, like Hamlet, battles the ghostly appearances of the long departed albeit my case is more figurative than literal.

Without the transition phase of my plan, this reluctant nomad is finding it hard to keep from slipping into self-pity and transforming into a batty wanderer while keeping the ghosts of the past at bay. Drifting through life like a leaf riding on the wind, I am making an effort to find a sense of permanence in my new nomadic existence. Inhaling positive energy and exhaling self-doubt and pessimism, I get underway with my usual routine. It begins with a facial.

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