Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Distance

Yes, I know it's not Friday (although I've had serious trouble this week with remembering what day it is, I am confident that it is not yet Friday). But my sister-in-law turned me on to this writing exercise from the above website, and being the obsessive compulsive writer that I am, I had to try it. I think it will be a good exercise for me because one of the requirements is that you cannot edit. Not editing is like nails on a chalkboard for me, stirring up all my issues with not wanting to fail or look foolish. But since I'm trying to grow in those things, this seems just right.

So last week's topic was On Distance. Here goes:

11:42 am

When we first moved to China 12 years ago I would listen obsessively to a song by Fernando Ortega called Don't Let Me Come Home a Stranger, or at least that was the chorus. I was terrified that I would lose all my roots. It didn't occur to me that I would also be setting them down.

The problem with setting down roots is that when you pull the plant out and transplant it somewhere else, dirt flies. Emotional dirt. And then it takes awhile for that plant to settle into its new place. And then later it gets ripped up again.

So now I have left bits of my dirt life in China, the US, Singapore. And I've realized that while the downside of this is that I will live my life feeling as though my heart is always spread across distances, never fully in one place, I have the blessing of being loved in many places, of keeping pieces of those places, of the people I have known in those places, here with me.

So distance becomes somewhat relative. It's close and far, small and big, in my world.

Don't let me come home a stranger - but I'm not a stranger anywhere anymore. And at the same time I am a stranger in this world, longing for my true home. Distance is painful, but it makes the gathering sweeter, the memories richer for having had them. I hate the distance that my chosen life has brought between the people I know and love around the world, but at the same time my relationships with them have been changed by that distance in profound ways.

11:47 Bummer - I was just getting started.


Chris B. said...

when you left 12 years ago, I remember listening to Randy Stonehill's "Tell me you're coming back soon" a lot. That had a similar analogy in it. You'll never be a stranger to me, sis!

Nikhil & Sonia said...

hi there, are you still living in singapore? we are relocating from toronto in a few months...what would you recommend we bring and leave behind? coming with 3 year old, and i'm currently pregnant...any advice/suggestions will help!
ps. love reading your posts!


Six Wilsons said...

Sending you a hug from NY

Gina Marie said...


No, we left Singapore about 2 years ago and now live in China again. My advice about shipping is that furniture in Singapore is not cheap, so if you have stuff you like it's probably worth sending. On the other hand, if you come from a drier area, know that Singapore is wickedly humid and moving furniture back to a dry environment can really warp it.

Other than that, you can get most things in Singapore (although depending on how you're built, clothing can be a little difficult to find - it's all made for thin, straight bodied Asians, not people with curves!).

I hope the transition goes well! Singapore is beautiful and a lot of fun!

Nikhil & Sonia said...

Hi Gina!

thanks for your response....i'm thinking i will bring the kids furniture...and the crib for the baby...
what about kids clothes? easy to find?
i was reading somewhere that i should bring makeup/shampoos/medicines....any suggestions? and for the baby?

let me know!

thanks for your help :)

Gina Marie said...


We had spotty luck finding clothes for our kids there. There are lots of kids' clothes if you have a high budget, but we didn't so I mostly brought them from the States. As for things like make-up, shampoo, medicines - if there's something you really love, I'd bring it, but otherwise you can get just about anything there, for a price. :) I rarely brought medicine back, or shampoo, but I did bring some make up because they didn't carry make up for my skin tone.

The cheapest place to shop for that kind of stuff in Singapore is Mustafa Centre in Little India. That's where I did most of my shopping because we lived close to it.

Nikhil & Sonia said...

hi gina,

ok so i will get all the clothes from here!..did your children go to school there? i was looking into the canadian international school...but its sooo pricey! any recommendations on which area to live in? my hubby will be working in raffles place..

Nikhil & Sonia said...

oh and i went to mustafa centre years ago( when i was like 14 - so 20 years ago)...it was great! but very crowded :)

Nikhil & Sonia said...

ps. sorry for all the questions! there are soo many unknowns when moving to a new country! i appreciate your feedback :)

Gina Marie said...


I've heard the Canadian School is good, but really tough. Our kids were homeschooled, so I can't help you out there.

There's really not a bad part of town to live in - we lived in Little India, then Serangoon, because at the time they were a little cheaper and more local. You'd probably want to live closer to downtown.

Mustafa is open 24 hours, so you just have to go at the right time. I used to go at 5 am sometimes and then there's NO ONE there. :) Any time before 11 is best.

Nikhil & Sonia said...

hi gina

i really appreciate your help!