my most recent trip home was a surreal one. boarding the train, it didn’t feel like i was homebound. i had a strange sense of going somewhere unfamiliar, unusual, out of the ordinary. there wasn’t the old feeling of comfort when i lay on my bed. it felt like someone else’s room, someone else’s life.
last week i received the news that my current department is hiring, and they don’t mind medical officers fresh from internship. although it’s not the specialty i want, i was seized by a moment of panic and uncertainty. just over a month ago i put in a request for a transfer back home. there’s no reason for me to stay in ipoh – no boyfriend, no career opportunity, no family – and i sorely miss the music and activism in the klang valley. besides, my life seemed to work in a 2-year cycle and i took it as a sign that it was time to go.
but i was filled with regret for sending in the application when i heard of the possibility of remaining in ipoh, a town i’ve grown to respect and kind of love. i feel secure here. i know the streets, i have rapport with the people. there’s a waiter at a pub who knows my name, another one that serves my table every time…and i don’t even visit those places very often. if i stayed, i’d be referring cases to colleagues i trained under and with. i wouldn’t have to figure out the bosses because i’ve already experienced what it’s like to be their subordinate.
do i need a reason to stay other than to remain in my comfort zone? i’ve never hung around anywhere long enough to feel what it’s like to be comfortable. i left singapore just as i got used to it. i said goodbye to my closest uni friends when we finished pre-clinical school. i chose to work away from home after graduation. is my time as a nomad up?
there’s a possibility my application for transfer is still on the desk of an administrator at my hospital office or in the bermuda triangle in the corridor. either way, i may have a chance to throw it away, tell my father i’ve changed my mind, that i don’t want his “connections” to help me get back home. that i want to stay here and hammer nails in bones, have dimsum on sunday mornings and become a methodist.
i know it’s the stress talking, and i know deep inside i really want to go home and be able to buy indie music at gigs hosted by musicians i’ve followed for 10 years, inspire my church-going juniors to leave the medical profession before it’s too late (kidding), maybe get involved in human rights stuff again, register voters, volunteer regularly. whatever. espresso-based coffee every week.
but now when i am at my most uncomfortable, it’s tempting to think of the cushy spot i’ve built for myself here in ipoh and decide that i don’t ever wanna leave this place.