Singapore Adventure

Monday, May 15, 2006

by venitha

"Life's been so much better here since we bought the yacht," Timo told us with an enormous grin.

"Well, yeah," I replied with a laugh. It was impossible not to smile at such unabashed happiness, but for me, it was a hungry smile. Where could I get some of that?

In our taxi ride home from Raffles Marina, I wondered aloud what Jim and I could do in our own lives here to effect such bliss.

"Say money is no object. Nor time."

"Nor gravity," Jim added, helpful as always.

In a bold departure from the positive positive thoughts my Indian fairy godmother, a turbaned lotus-positioned palm reader, blessed me with, all I was capable of was veto power. Not a yacht. Not a weekly shopping spree at Takashimaya. Not monthly trips back to the US. I cast line after line: blue walls? daily massage? religion? a child? Nothing bit, and by the time we reached home, my melancholy had stemmed the tide of Jim's endless jokes.


Weekday mornings, I let Jim go downstairs to the gym before me, not only because of the air-conditioned goodness he jump starts, but also because of the gleeful smile he gives me when, already glistening with sweat, he spots me in the hallway. Sometimes I think it's the elation of this split second that gets us both through the day.

I wonder what my expression is like in return.

In our relationship, it's my job to be the seething gray storm clouds, tempestuous waves crashing into foaming white water. Jim's role is that of clear calm blue skies, cool water lapping rhythmically against the side of the boat. We've joked over the years that the only reason Jim's avoided his genetic predisposition to depression is that he's too busy worrying about me, holding his breath while I walk the plank with precarious balance, inordinately drawn to the depths below.

So I am a gasping floundering fish out of water-- THWUNK! No, I am a stunned, probably dead, fish lying wide-eyed on ice at the Tekka Centre when, as he stirs his morning coffee, Jim tells me he's unhappy here, with his frustrating hyper-stressful job and this pointless aimless treading-water existence. I get up and move behind him, wrap my arms around him tightly, then bend to kiss his cheek, to bite his shoulder, to slurp his earlobe, before gently resting my chin on top of his head. Caught off guard, however, this is all I've got. This is new for us, and in spite of my palm reader's far more accurate blessing of resourcefulness, I have no resources for this.