Meditations on Moving

I am an amateur at this art called ‘moving’. Having left my books, my paints and my camera in a cardboard box I cannot identify, all I can do is wait, and watch, and wait a little more as my current home is stripped down to what it was before I came. 

We call this ‘moving’, when in fact it is anything but: we are simply moving from one place of stillness to the next. It is not action, but inertia, that pulls us along as we pack boxes, stretch tape and say goodbye to the neighbours. I run into them several times, in the corridor, on the lift, outside their home. At one point, I catch a glimpse of their ginger cat and wonder if it is a farewell I see in his stony eyes.

Or is it relief?

For the first time in a long time, I am content to merely observe. I watch, fuzzy-eyed, as the day bleeds on. All I do are little things, like buy bottles of water for the men who walk with their shirts rolled halfway up their torsos, walking the swaggered step of new beginnings.

Despite the knowledge that what is now will never be again, every so often the old ways remind me that I am not entirely without roots. Outside, the summer rain comes and goes. At the cusp of 6AM, my parents eat their favourite red bean donuts with cartons of Kowloon milk. I sit at the local Starbucks to kill time, possibly to write something wonderful, and all I can think about is how the music is too loud.

Only when we are moving do we realise how much we have changed. This morning, I almost apologised to my walls for the scars left behind by posters of boy bands long forgotten, by works of art considered masterpieces at the age of ten. Nails left embedded in places where my memories used to hang like treasures. All of it contained in a space so small. A space I walked through once all my things were gone, the sound of my flip flops so jarring on the hardwood floor. The last time the echoes were this loud was when we first moved in. I remember dancing in the space that was to be my room, fluorescent lights bright in my eyes, music blaring from an MP3 phone that would now be considered obsolete. That was ten years ago.

My only memory from last night is of me lying in bed, the familiar whir of the air conditioner above my head, the coolness of the tatami mat pressed against my skin. I was in a room shed of all the things that make a space a room of one’s own. All my belongings were in boxes, stacked on top of another in a manner so undignified. As I fell into a deep sleep, it didn’t strike me that this would be the last time I would be sleeping in this space, soon to wake up to a beautifully patterned goodbye.


Previously I lived in an accumulation of ten years, in a room marked by an identity stretched throughout the decade. Now I sit in a newly renovated kitchen, laptop perched upon my knees, and I wonder if this is where my new life begins. From here onwards, I will be me as I am today, minimalist, bare, and so unsure of what my belongings mean to me in a space so different. What new memories will come to be? Who will write to this new address? What will be the last thing I remember when I move out someday?

Time flies. We grow. And soon, we leave.

Leave nothing but shadows, bare until someone else takes their shape.

photo copy


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