It’s weird the things you miss. one week back in Malaysia, and I can already understand why some people go into a masters degree because they don’t know what to do after graduating. of course I miss J. but I don’t much miss anyone else yet–I never saw anyone else so regularly as to start missing them, I think. but other things about the regularity of a life I miss. I saw a picture a friend posted of herself at uni, and I saw the Kent bins in the background, and that made me feel something. it’s just a rubbish bin, but it’s the unique rubbish bins, with the university of Kent logo on them, that I’d always see with regularity on the campus streets. I miss that – the short walkways on campus, the getting from point a to b and knowing all the stops along the way, even knowing where all the bins were. I miss the east part of the library. in my final year, I visited it every day to work on my dissertation and various other essays. I miss the walking in, finding a seat and settling down for a day of work. I guess what it comes down to is the sense of purpose that I had in the library, and walking around campus, and in going to my classes: I had a purpose at Kent. my purpose was to study, and to learn and to work, and I don’t have the same purpose in Malaysia, I don’t have anything guiding me.
at least back in Kent, even if I didn’t know my bigger purpose, at least I knew that I had classes to attend and essays to write – at least that I knew. being home makes me sad because of the boredom and aimlessness of the days that pass by softly. I had thought that my purpose in returning home might have been to be around for my sister, but she’s growing up quickly and she doesn’t need me around so much, i don’t think. I remember all the summers before when she’d bug me constantly for something, and I’d just tell her to leave me alone – now the positions are reversed, and I can tell that she’s growing into that secrecy of young teenagehood. she never asks me for anything, and often if I’m around it’s as if she wants me to leave her alone. she doesn’t say so, but it’s in the way she remains stiff when I embrace her, the way she curls away slightly when I’m near her. I don’t take it personally, I think she’s at that age when children become more self conscious about their bodies and the way they are talked to by adults. I had thought also that my purpose in coming home was to… take responsibility for where I come from, something along those lines. to try and really live in this city I’ve grown up in, to contribute somehow in its growth and in the welfare of the people who live here, but I feel like a stranger in a foreign place. I don’t have anything I work on with any regularity here – if I ever so something, it’s largely for my own benefit or impulses. university was work for my own benefit too, but I also had a sense of being part of a larger network of similarly-aged people who all had the purpose of studying and expanding human knowledge. I don’t have that same network of purpose here: all my actions are purely individualistic: I eat, I sleep, I go on my phone, I see my friends, I talk to my sister. nothing adds up, there is no larger structure to time.
of course, it’s only been a week. but it really strikes me how scary time is. I feel like I am drifting through time, and that if i remained unmoored and purposeless for too long I may just drift off into nothingness. like the particles of Dust in The Amber Spyglass. like smoke from a cigarette. J once told me that the diffusion of cigarette smoke was one of the most difficult things to analyse and predict. that’s how I feel, like drifting smoke that is still unpredictable and evidently aimless regardless of the wind’s direction.
when I was at Kent, I was moored by my larger purpose of pursuing higher education alongside everyone else at the university, but I was also moored by these regular landmarks unique to the university. I was moored by the familiarity of the campus landscape, the placement of the buildings, the pathways from point a to point b that remained the same, day in and day out. I could picture where I was going, how to get there, and even all the little things along the way, like the benches & the signs & the toilets & yes, even the dustbins. Now I am not moored by anything. yes, I know my house and I know the places I usually frequent when I’m in KL, but they’re not alive with the same sense of purpose that energized the university campus for me.
one of my friends who’s a recently-graduated international student himself, who’s also since returned to his home country, told me that he felt depressed when he first arrived home, but that he’s feeling better now. I know that this must change at some point, especially since I’m still looking for work, but until then (whenever or whatever “then” is), it’s still painful all the same. just drifting.