And in the scheme of things, I am truly but a speck in this ever-expanding world. And everything I have experienced in the past ten years mean so much and so little at the same time in the face of catastrophe after catastrophe. The world as we know it has already changed. And into the next decade, we are going to need courage: to love / to grief / to forgive / to dream / to be kind and generous / to remain joyful, and to bring joy / to live. Now then, are we truly ready for the lifetimes to come?
And here we are, at the end of a year that has more than demanded us to be brave.
2020 was the longest I have stayed in one place since leaving Singapore ten years ago.
I have missed waiting at airports – even having dreamed about this a couple of times. I have missed seeing my constellation of friends around the world. I have missed the rhythm changes that the transient nature of my work life has always afforded me.
But staying in one place has magnified things about myself and my processes in ways I have forgotten to look, and I have been surprised and delighted, inasmuch as I have been challenged and affirmed. And here I am – unflappable, as I have been told.
It started with a crayfish in February – on the greatest adventure you’ll ever have – where I have spent every weekend with a boy and his dog, keeping up the most consistent routine I have willingly maintained in my entire adult life. It was surreal in its mundanity and I even made a zine about it.
And then chapters closed in the form of finalised divorce papers. And that is that.
I didn’t quite have the homecoming gig in Singapore as I had imagined, but reimagining The Little Old Cooking Club That Could became a far more exciting undertaking. And having Papa Lewis be the star of the work remains a top highlight of my 2020, and in my artistic practice!
Despite the shut down of the performing arts sector, I worked. A lot. And I am exhausted. But wrapping up almost four years at TNA and managing the 1000 x 1000: Crisis Cash for Artists campaign – I recognised how much I have been shaped by my time in this organisation and with everyone I have worked with throughout.
Dan and I continued with our shared practice, and keeping artistic goals and creative ideas alive with a true friend and buddy in him has kept me sane through lockdown. Spending time with my art heroes Roslyn Oades and Lynda Roberts inspired me. Nudging along Latai’s Refuge project continued to enrich my world. And the phone catch-ups with Nathan, Gareth, Rhen, Nithya, Penny and Connie just to name a few – where art, life and love intertwined – held and nourished me.
I have made new friends through the boyfriend, and I have deeply appreciated being able to pick up from where we last left off with old friends across continents and time zones, seeing us through school life, marriages, break ups and new babies.
And then I picked up the ukelele for zoom singalongs with Ethan, and a party hat over a cockatoo for his birthday celebrations from Collingwood to Singapore.
There are things you concede to when you decide to live 6060km away, but a global pandemic in 2020 has significantly changed the ease in which I can hop on a plane to see the family. And it remains uncertain when that next trip home might be. It is perhaps this heartache that I will carry through 2021.
But in a year where family have felt distant, the Wrights shared their family with me – and I am better for that. And I relish in the quiet comfort in knowing that I will always have a home and lodeh with the Soemardjos.
On a post-it note after a phone call with Lauren earlier in the year, I wrote:
Radical Kindness / Urgent Optimism
And as I take a month off before embarking on what feels like a most simultaneously terrifying and thrilling move at Next Wave, I will be holding on tightly to this post-it note.
And holding on lightly to everything else.
Because it is not certainty that will get us to where we want to be, but clarity that will take us farther along the way. And perhaps the clearest thing I’ve come to find this year, is my ability to watch embers glow and unravel – eyes and heart wide open – to know and be known.
And gently, slowly, with laughter, love and joy – and the occasional splash of bubbles and oysters – is how I intend to see through 2021. But first, a new year saltwater swim for me.