Being raised as a moderate nationalist - I'm not one of those who will march on Mendiola, calling for the resignation of yet another corrupt president and replacing him/her with another stupid one - it feels weird to finally download the form for PR (permanent resident) here in Singapore. I'm staring at it right now: the neat little boxes that compartmentalize my life and remind me how much a creature of the system I am. Here, I am known by my last name first, a weird little oversight coming from the university who thought that I was Chinese ('cos everyone who's named "Lee" is Chinese) and hence placed my last name before my first name. My first name is difficult to pronounce and my nickname is even more difficult. There are too many syllables, too many hard sounds, "b"s and "r"s that refuse to roll off the tongue.
I know why I want to stay here - it's because of that man who shares my bed and my food and my life, who enfolds me in his arms like I am the most precious thing in the world, who looks at me as though I am his universe. I don't know how long this will last and I'm afraid - what will happen by the end of this year? How will we know if this is really it? Don't we get a certificate for returning all emotions, all the movies we watched, all the meals we ate, all the evening walks across the city - nothing that gives us a money-back guarantee in case something goes wrong?
I'm torn in two - I want to stay and I am going to go through the motions of applying for PR because it will help in staying longer, in hoping that this relationship will work, in perhaps finally being able to earn enough to help me survive on my own. I've only realized belatedly that for the most part, my parents haven't been supporting me since around late 2006, it feels so strange. But maybe it's the same with this application - just taking it one day at a time, see how everything works, and know that this man sees my value in the world the way I see it, and reminds me that he is worth fighting for.
But still, I can't help but think about the way I was raised by my parents: I should be able to contribute to my country, I should be able to use my talents in helping my country become better and be the best that I can be in the land I call home. There's a part of me that's telling me that what I'm doing is very selfish and that I'm only thinking about myself and what I'm happy with as opposed to what everyone else is going to like. But then, I also think about the fact that I've spent so much of my life making other people happy, that advertising as a career is actually all about making other people satisfied, that sometimes I just wish I had time to make myself happy - and that this man makes me happy, so happy that I just want to explode. And then I realize that if I don't take this chance to be happy, then what else do I live for?
This morning, I was making breakfast when my flatmate's girlfriend Z was watching me and she was telling me that she had finally submitted her own PR application, since they just got engaged and will most probably get married by next year. I know that she didn't want to stay as well, that she desperately wanted to go back home. "Haaaay," she said to me as I was beating the eggs in the bowl, "The things we do for love."
So true, so true.