Growing up in the 70s, I fondly remember our first move. It was exciting and sad all at the same time as we were moving out of our neighbourhood and leaving behind friends who became family as we shared our home, food and all our celebrations together.
Even in our tiny island Singapore where everything is not really far, it was not about the distance but rather the proximity and having connections that were just next door.
Having only known our apartment for 8 years I was very apprehensive about the move and the changes that were to come. Changing schools was definitely not something on my wish list but according to THE PARENTS we were moving from one end of the island to the other.
The days that led up to MOVING DAY was filled with sorting, clearing and collecting used boxes. I was tasked with reducing my treasure of soft toys, clothes I had grown out of and shoes that had holes in them. Yes, those were the days when we only changed or bought new things when we needed to.
Every day after school, friends would come over and we would play with the empty boxes that mum was collecting; they became our castles, carriages and hot air balloons as they would for a couple of 8-year-old “princesses”.
MOVING DAY came around too soon and the house was filled with uncles, aunts and my grandparents. They were our “moving crew” and before you knew it, everything was packed. However, packing then, was not even close to what we understand it to be today. As it was difficult to get enough used boxes, and buying boxes were just not something you did then. Instead, books, clothes and toys were piled into pillows and bedsheets. Ornaments were wrapped in towels and clothes. It was a blur of activity and definitely one of those days when you were grateful for big families.
In a couple of hours, what was left of my childhood home was just bare walls and empty floors. My father took my hand and said, “Let’s go, I have a surprise for you”. Armed with my favourite soft toy and my little Shitz Tzu, Pei, on his leash, we marched forward and never looked back.
I remember the ride to our new home being really long and it made sense why I had to change schools, but I also realized that I would really never see my friends and neighbours again.
My father wanted to surprise us so we all had no clue about where we were moving to or what we were even moving into.
Arriving at the gate, my eyes lit up like lights on a Christmas Tree. Pei could sense my excitement and could not wait to explore. Together we dashed out of the car into the garden and what stood before me was what seemed like a small castle.
While we explored room after room, everyone else was busy unpacking and putting things away. Grandpa went straight to the kitchen and started to cook with things he brought. He looked at me knowingly and said, “the best way to bless a new home is with food and family”.
Amazingly nothing broke or got damaged, maybe because it was handled by loving hands.
By the end of the day we were moved in and ready to spend out first night in what was going to be what I called my “growing – up home”.
While I missed my childhood home, I knew that I was going to make some great memories here and in fact it was already happening. Watching everyone pitching in to help with the move, then sitting on the floor and eating together because our new table had not arrived yet, taught me that homes are not about what we hang on the wall or the furniture we eat and sleep on, it is about people. It did not matter where we moved to as long we had our “people” with us.
I am reminded of this now because I am all grown up and planning a big move out of Singapore. For the last few months I have been so consumed with getting quotes, talking to movers and panicking about my china collection and how they are going to be packed. I literally am having sleepless nights about my Christmas tree ornaments as they come from the many countries I have travelled to. I have researched all the movers, checked their reviews and double checked.
As the memories come rushing back of the move that “changed” me, as I watch the kids play with their own little “Pei”, I realized that one-day when I look back on this next move, I want to have positive memories like my 8-year-old self.
“Embrace Uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later”. – Bob Goff