Note: Dear readers, this is not at all a political blog/rant/article, just merely inspired by 2016 political results from my point of view.
If 2016 was a person, I’d buy him a glass of wine to celebrate for endurance, a cup of coffee as my way of sharing comfort and then kick the jukebox for some old tunes to talk it all out. Loss comes in different forms and 2016’s political events had an evident pattern – Brexit, Duterte and Trump for example. How different would our lives be if votes that won were to stay, to let political dynasties continue and had another Clinton to rule?
As I sip my cuppa tea, I grinned at how votes turned out across all elections this year. And how mainstream of me to use this line but people wanted a change.
Three years ago, I moved into my own apartment after over a decade of serious Asian parenting, Catholic schools / communities, Sundays at Church (a weekday in Dubai) and fighting over the remote control (five people versus me).
I was at home.
I built the foundation of my single adult life in that studio apartment with my first ever groceries purchased by yours truly, furniture of my choice, music at my volume and a brand new car to top it all off. Freedom defined, hey?
Three years ago, my parents left Dubai for retirement and I remember losing both my maternal grandparents that same year. These people have long served the countries they worked in and considered it home. I remember my first Christmas in Bahrain; I don’t think my parents could afford a big tree then so they got creative and got Christmas lights instead. They taped the lights on the wall and shaped it as a tree and there they placed our oddly shaped presents. I never really thought we needed a better tree, at an early age, we knew my mom and dad did their best. That they were just starting out.
I remember the first time I saw Kodak photos; they were glossy prints of Lolo and Lola (grandpa and grandma) in Universal studios, Lolo was posing with a Jurassic Park logo while Lola was looking for something to eat. They looked very funny in their oversized coats amongst a world of dinosaurs and film references. I never thought much about it except how cool of them to go to all these grand theme parks! But Mom was in Bahrain and her parents were in America. She kept those photos to remember of how happy they looked as she stayed back to take care of us, her own family.
I remember when we would go on an adventure with Mom while Dad was on a business trip, we watched a Jackie Chan movie at the theatre as we waited for his arrival and sneaked our microwaved popcorn to share. We would have our alarms set at odd hours so we could welcome him home from the airport. We waited because we missed him and wanted to tell him about our adventures.
Fast forward today, my siblings and I have taken the roles of the new generation of expats. How strange this world has become with oceans and continents that brought people apart now merely feels like a lake and a few mountains. We’ve become closer yet still apart. We have what we want but is it what we need?
People voted to leave, a change and to go against the popular choice. They did this silently amidst the noise because they didn’t want to be in the same place and wait for the next election. They didn’t want to stay.
My sister called me a few weeks ago and started with “you’re not gonna like what I’m going to say next” – we’re nomads by DNA, where you are now is not where you will be in the next three years. You will be somewhere else; building, discovering, finding your own oasis and also facing your own versions of sword play.
People choose the cards they play for their wellbeing; it is one of those needed self centred acts for their own betterment. We deserve the president we voted for. Benefits and sacrifices included.
Which means – this is the path we chose. The path not to stay, to keep going and continue building a home in every house we live in. To seek similarity and celebrate differences in the people we meet. To make things work. To love above and below imagination.
It is now three years since my first apartment and I am now in my new home. I’ve oriented myself to locals terms (hob vs stove / cardigan vs jumper / fries vs chips, etc). I’ve walked most of the city through hail, rain and wind. No TV but hey, there’s Spotify and Netflix. Work – home – work – home. This is my version of silent voting; it’s been two years since my family has been together; the wait at the airport has been replaced with Skype calls. The Christmas tree is there with presents kindly sponsored by DHL/FEDEX/ ARAMEX boxes. Death threats over dinner and remote control ownership is replaced by cheesy emoticons and funny memes from different timezones.
As 2016 is close to an end, if it was a person, I would punch him with my new boxing skills and hug him because sometimes it gets so tiring to deal. Rest for the night and then keep going. Loss may come in different forms but seeking home in people and places is a consistent reminder for the kind of life we want to build and the person we want to be.
Loving above and below imagination,
Pia the Nomad