except this. i’m so terribly homesick.
except this. i’m so terribly homesick.
i’m in KL! have been for a month. after being relatively stagnant at home and anticipating my next phase of life, i am finally here. unlike manchester, i wanted a better beginning, which meant that i only allowed myself optimism paired with concurrent mediocre expectations so that i wouldn’t be pre-emptively closing myself off from all opportunities, but also i would come prepared with an airbag to cushion any fall in expectations, a mechanism developed over the years in the wake of crushing regrets and disappointments.
i don’t really know what i expected upon coming here, though. unlike university, living alone in KL (despite studying in the meantime) isn’t exactly an experience that comes with a predictable blueprint. even today, almost a month into my stay here, i have yet to find a steady footing on my routine here, which is at best, a little exhilarating, and at worst, incredibly terrifying.
i have always loved big cities. i have always romanticised big cities. to me, there’s always an inherent thrill of being thrown into the deep unknown that is so rich with a certain fixed culture interlaced with elements of unpredictability and surprise. like london. rome. paris. tokyo. bangkok. all very messy, but also exciting. it was precisely the inevitability of chaos and disorder ever-prevalent in a city that fascinated me; me, a creature of habit, a hermit confined within her comfort zone for almost as long as she had lived. studying abroad had instilled an addiction to adrenaline within myself that came with combating the norm of what i have known all my life, and taking on challenges that i would have absolutely recoiled from a mere three years ago. i wanted to be the exact opposite of myself, which is why i never hesitated at all to choose KL as my next destination within malaysia.
and KL never disappointed. ever so chaotic and tireless, it made london appear like a sleepy town. there was never a lack of anything to complain about once i leave the house. i don’t have a car, so getting anywhere by grab is blood-sucking. toss in some rain and rush hours and you get the quintessential KL experience of feeling helpless either squished among a sea of bodies that completely eradicates any concept of personal space, or stranded in a mall that has yet to even open its shutters just so you can wait for the grab surge to go down. chaotic, so chaotic. do i love it? sometimes. sometimes i still stare in amazement at the bright skyscraper lights of menara suezcap and TM tower from the smudged window of a grab on the way home approaching bangsar south, and sometimes i also still feel some inane sense of fondness at the sight of the endless red rear lights of a traffic jam at 6pm from the elevated view of LRT windows. there’s just so much going on here. so much potential. so many opportunities. it all feels so breathless and minute.
but sometimes, especially when it’s at night, it’s not so easy to focus on the romanticisation in the face of inherent loneliness. because i am alone, here. and suddenly, so many responsibilities surface when you are living alone. but right at the next immediate second, there comes the contrast of having absolutely nothing to fill your time with, no one to talk to. it’s so strange to me, even until today, because i’ve never been in this exact situation before. i’ve always had the privilege and comfort of familiar company in the form of family and friends at the start of my new phases of life, and i know i’m already 23 (god forbid i ever forget that when the whole universe seems to consistently be reminding me of it) but it’s always going to be an awkward arrangement for me to be completely by myself. it’s not even really a matter of self-sufficiency or lack of human contact, but rather the absence of reassurance in the form of The Idea That Someone Is Always There. it’s weird. there’s the freedom that i’ve salivated over for so long right in front of me, and yet i can only feel nothing but weird.
and nothing stands out more during this period of assimilation into KL city than the concept of contrast, the most obvious being the contrast between my life here and the life i had in manchester. it’s always a subconscious comparison that starts budding within my mind when i’m not paying attention, and especially during that brief moment before i fall asleep. everyone and everything felt so nearby and within reach in manchester, but KL just feels like a huge expanse of barrenness in which everyone is constantly busy and occupied, and everything is so distant and unreachable. a contrast akin to the bizarre and acute contrast between capitalism’s glaring divide of income groups reflected in a mere two-way road separating kampung houses with atap roofs and the integrated corporate hub of bangsar south filled with skyscrapers with glass windows and a mini-waterfall, a view that still strikes fascination within me whenever i pass by it everyday to go home.
does this contrast fill me with regret? it does, it still does. it fills me with so much regret that i didn’t fight hard enough to stay in manchester for another year, especially with the knowledge that had i chosen to remain in manchester, my current situation would be so much better off than where i am now. but at the same time, there is only so much blame that i can put on myself. and i realise that somewhere within me, there’s still a part of me that hasn’t totally given up on KL yet. sure, a lot of things suck. sure, i miss my friends so much when i’m home alone for the third day in a row, writhing in pain from gastritis without any luxury of human interaction. sure, i wish i could just reach where i want to go by foot when i’m stuck in a crowded LRT for 30 minutes, knowing that it’s the only possible route to get to class. but sometimes, rather than regret and all the what-ifs, i just think, “that’s how things be”. because really, i would rather blame my circumstances than my own actions anymore. it’s perhaps even more helpless to feel like there’s no way to fight against unfortunate circumstances, but accepting the fact that adult life is just generally tough for everyone and that the bliss of university life cannot stretch on forever, is easier in the long run. it’s just really…how it be.
which honestly, is also the same answer for me regarding my relationship with KL; do i hate KL? do i love KL? i’m still not done romanticising this metropolitan hell yet, but obviously it’s also not where i would want to be as of this moment. which is why, eh, KL is just KL. that’s how she be.
It appears that this will be the last blogpost that will be filed under this category, Larger than Lifesize – a category wholly dedicated to my whole three years of university in the UK.
And now on to even larger things. Like moving to KL to commence a new phase of my life.
I’ve been back in Malaysia for almost a month now, but my time spent at home in Alor Setar feels like a temporary transit more than anything. Immediately after I unpacked all my stuff brought back from Manchester, I find myself packing again, this time to spend a year in KL studying the CLP, bringing me yet another step closer to a a legal career path that I am still quite struggling to be passionate about. (But lately I am thinking that passion might not be such an important prerequisite in any career I pursue, after all. Unfortunately, the growth of capitalism is almost guaranteed to make us hate our job, regardless of whether it’s in a field we love or abhor.)
I still do miss Manchester terribly, if I allow myself the time and energy to think about it. But at the same time, I am trying to redirect that same time and energy expense towards anticipating a brand new life instead, to alleviate the fear and anxiety that arise with it. So KL friends, hit me up for plans starting next weekend plz 👀
(I missed this blog’s 10th birthday [anniversary?] last month! Happy birthday, Careful Confessions, you’re almost hitting puberty. Kids these days, they just grow up so fast don’t they)
i’m flying back home in two days, and this is probably the last time i will get to write from the learning commons.
AGLC in the summer is a rare sight and an empty contrast to the usual crowd during term time. there are no more familiar faces around, and my purpose of being here lacks any sort of motivation and conviction regarding assignments and/or exams. although i get pleasantly surprised everytime i’m still allowed entry since this year’s term ended.
it would be a stretch to say that i enjoyed the excruciatingly long hours i have spent in this building for the past three years, but it always gets so nostalgic to pass by my usual seat at the couches at floor -1. some of my friendships this year were also unpredictably cultivated here, so that must also contribute to the nostalgia, i guess.
after last night, i realise that i am still somewhat in heavy denial of leaving, even going to the extent of looking up Masters programmes in uni of manchester and asking my dad for the billionth time whether i had actually made the right decision by choosing to go home. realistically, there is no longer anything else that i can do to change the direction i am veered towards. i have paid good sums of money. packed everything up. said all my goodbyes. and that is why this struggle to deny the inevitable scares me more than anything else. i hate to continue fighting against the progression of reality like this, but my mind is still endlessly plagued with what-ifs and any possible last minute turnabouts, wondering why i hadn’t tried harder to cling onto this before.
deep down i know it’s all for naught, and that this is just a tough period of separation that i have to grit my teeth and endure until the pain and sorrow ebb away eventually. so…i don’t know. half of my mind is just trying to distract myself from *waves arms around frantically* all this and the other half is trying to obsessively document everything here as immaculately as i can to prevent any regrets that surface in the future.
this exhaustion and sadness is exactly as i’d expected, and i’m gradually digging my emotional well dry while attempting to be a functional human being in front of everyone else at the same time.
[dated 18 july 2018, 8:23pm]
i think one of the most beautiful things in the world is the coming together of human beings, souls and personalities.
which is why one of the saddest things in the world is the separation of these beings, especially if it’s for a long amount of time.
but at the same time, what remains a beautiful thing too is after said separation, these beings come together again, respectively different in terms of growth and experiences, but still maintaining the same level of care and affection for each other.
and i hope when all of us reunite again, as grown and improved versions of ourselves in the future, we will fondly remember the countless memories of yesterday’s nostalgia, and then move forward to create brand new ones together.
Ever since the arrival of my parents in UK, I have been submerged in a perpetual trance of bizarreness, so much so that it sometimes makes me a bit anxious. It probably has to do with the strange collision of worlds pre- and post-university. Probably also has something to do with my approaching expiry date. Regardless, the past month took me out of my comfortable Manchester life and took me along for a whirlwind of a ride.
But coming back to Manchester, meeting all my friends again, and finally, graduating, brought some semblance of familiarity back, and I was really thankful for that. There is still an inherent melancholy interlaced within everything I do and everyone I see, since all of them point towards the direction of Leaving, but everything felt like a proper emotional closure, at least. The very concept of graduation means closure, after all.
Today was a day of rushing (in heels, at that) to do things, to meet people, to take photos. So it was only when I entered Whitworth Hall and took my seat before my graduation ceremony officially began that I started to feel the crushing weight of the weariness, and even more importantly, the magnitude of what was happening to me and to my life thus far.
I guess objectively, all milestones are what you make them to be, and graduation is one of them. And University of Manchester definitely made this milestone out to be one of much grandeur. There was an organ that made everything appear more dramatic, chancellors and heads of school clad in purple robes delivering motivational speeches, and finally, the donning of our graduation hats to symbolise the actual end of the three-year ride. Hitting the nail on the coffin, if you will.
It’s a bit unbelievable. No, I’m lying. It’s so incredibly unbelievable. I am way too exhausted to be eloquent right now, but it just feels way too surreal that I have finished all three years of law school in Manchester and am leaving it now. Am I happy to graduate? Yes. It’s an achievement to be proud of. Yet at the same time, it’s the underlying melancholy that confuses things. Curse my perpetual sentimentality forever. Things that do not need emotions should not be granted them, and yet here I am freely splashing my feelings over every single thing I can lay my hands on.
But an achievement it is, nonetheless, and how could any of this have been possible without the people around me, my family and friends? Because at the end of the day, these people are where all my emotions flow towards. My parents, who have literally been my unbending pillars of support since day one, who, despite all my tantrums and mood swings, still showed unconditional love and care which made me the person I am today. My friends from all phases of my life, but especially the ones that I have made during my university years, who, despite having no blood relations to me at all, still showed sincerity and genuineness in wanting to be my friend, helping me grow so much over the years and always being reliably there whenever I needed someone.
It’s moments like these that I wish emotions such as gratitude wasn’t such an abstract thing. I wish I could express them beyond mere words, at a time when these literary tools I possess that I wield so loyally and frequently on a daily basis, become obstacles instead.
And so I wish that you, every single person reading this, know how much I thank you, for being an impact in my 23 years of life up until now, no matter how major or minor. It’s moments like these when being alive feels that more wonderful with each breath I take.
the suitcases are out. my things are in boxes again. everytime i look at a part of my room that used to be filled with books and clothes and see them empty instead now, my stomach starts to hurt just a little because now i can only imagine the ghost of where these things used to be. and if it’s already this bad when it comes to objects in the form of my belongings, what more people?
buildings that i used to pass by and streets that i used to walk on feel more and more precarious, and i know there is only so much that i can do to drink in my surroundings with my senses, but i want all of them imprinted so hard in my mind’s eye because i know there is no way to prevent the erosion of memory with time. i want the urgent immersion now, and i’m afraid of anything less.
there is nothing i can do to stop time, nor change the inevitability of what is coming, and thus i can only make a checklist of doing and saying everything that i want to do and say before leaving with no regrets. and then, and only then, can i allow my heart to mourn in peace before i pick myself up from leaving a significant part of my life behind, to start a brand new one.