The Foreign Service Journal, September 2021

86 SEPTEMBER 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Subject: Hello from Singapore! Dear Hong Kong, Hey! Long time no talk. I just wanted to reach out, see how you were all doing. I’ve been so busy with school and whatnot. Mov- ing is always so difficult. But Singapore is a lot like Hong Kong! I’m sure I’ll like it here. Should I be writing this message? I don’t know. What time is it? Oh, it’s late. What’s the date? Oh. It’s been almost two years since I was in Hong Kong. What was my dream about last night? Oh, I know! Let me write it down: We were at that one place where the streetlights dimly lit the winding roads for us and it was raining. I don’t even remember the details. Delete that. I’m still getting used to Singapore. I tried to adopt some slang. Like saying “can” instead of “OK.” I can’t bring myself to say other Singaporean slang words, though, like “sia” or “lah.” I’m not sure why. It feels like if I did, I’d be appropriating them in some way. Maybe it’s because I’m an “ang moh.” That’s more slang. It means foreigner—I think. I’m not sure. On the plane ride here, was I naive for thinking we’d stay friends? No, I was just holding out hope, I think. Have I had a friendship last before? Wow, I don’t think so. Probably the life of every Foreign Service brat. When you deal with somuch adversity, you begin to create sub- conscious mannerisms to deal with the change. Mine is burning bridges. Humans bask on the notion of being secure. We weren’t made to enjoy change. We’re usually scared of it—scared of the unknown. But change is inevitable, especially inmy world. Because of adversity, I hugged loneliness. Its skin was cold, its breaths were short and tremulous, and its nails dug into my flesh. Its embrace was hardly an imitation of warm-blooded humans. But being lonely meant not having to lose anyone, so I held on tight. Wait, no, delete those two paragraphs. Too poetic. What time is it now? I saw those pictures you posted. You guys look great! Who are the new people? Are they new students? The other day I saw your name pop up on my phone. Thanks for wishing me a happy birthday! Did I reply to that? Gosh, I am so bad at replying. Is it rude if I reply now? No, I’m acknowledging it in this email—that’s good enough. Right? Wait, how many times have they texted me? I’m so tired. I’m doing great, by the way! I’ve been super busy (hence the lack of replies!). You know, moving is always so difficult. I’ve done it eight times and it only seems to get harder. But Singapore only gets better by the day. You promised me that I would love it here. You were totally right. It only took a few months. I think I missed your special day. So sorry. I wasn’t on my phone all week. Still getting adjusted to the schedule here! I hope you had a great birthday. I wish I was there to celebrate with you! What did they write again? “Happy birthday! Miss you! How are you?” That’s sweet. Happy birthday! Miss you! How are you? Happy birthday! Miss you! How are you? Happy birthday! Miss you! How are you? They’ve probably given up on me by now. An Old Friend BY BR I ANNA HOGAN FAMILY MEMBER MATTERS