Relocation Goodbyes

Tomorrow is the day where a very dear friend of mine close her chapter as an expatriate in Kuala Lumpur and relocate back home to Switzerland. Sad as it is, we all know it is the inevitable ending we must face, sometime in the future.

Five years ago, I left my country (Singapore), full of excitement, anticipating a new journey ahead in a new location (Shanghai) but it was not without a few years here and there. Nothing too dramatic because I know I’ll be back during the major holidays and Singapore will always be my home. At the end of the day, it was understood that once my journey ends and I had my fun, I’ll go home eventually. Then my 2 years stint in Shanghai ended with a brand new chapter of starting a new life as a Mrs in another new location (Kuala Lumpur). I thought the move will be similar, if not easier since I have relocated once. Boy, was I wrong.

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With leaving Singapore, it was easier instead. Without guilt or much emotional baggage, consoling myself I’ll be home at least twice a year and I probably will not miss anyone, anything much. However, leaving Shanghai left me crumpled in between fits of wailing and hiccuping sobs. 2 years of accumulated friendships and memories in addition to an accelerated maturity (mostly attribute to living on my own for the first time), create this stronghold that ties my heart to Shanghai. Moreover, I know I don’t have an iron solid reason to come back to Shanghai with exception of visiting my Chinese friends.

The withdrawal symptoms from leaving Shanghai is very real. For the first few weeks, I’ll do whatever it takes to hold on to my memories of Shanghai. Whether it is to hunt for Shanghainese food in Kuala Lumpur / Singapore or to constant update myself with Shanghai news (even the weather forecast), I just want to feel that Shanghai still matters in my life.


2 years later, I am still in Kuala Lumpur but Shanghai, although the memories are still pretty much alive, the detachment is no longer as strong and fierce as the day I boarded my flight. The longing to jump on the next flight out to Shanghai halt to a numbing dull throb. The friendships I made are still there, however the constant need to connect every week has faded to keeping in touch every month. Unfinished structures get built, depilated buildings get tore down, people move on, people change. Once involved in the swirling movement of activities in Shanghai, I am now a bystander looking in the same swirl motions, not able to participate anymore as I am too far away, too detached for too long.

My dear friend’s departure brings back the realization sharply that I will one day, have to go through again the emotional turmoil that I went through during my departure from Shanghai. Kuala Lumpur holds many milestone memories as this place is where I started my two new life chapters: being a wife and a mother. This time will definitely not be any easier than the last time. At the very least, I’ll armed myself boxes and boxes of tissues.

I wonder how anyone cope with repatriation. Any suggestions are welcome in the comments below.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Mabel Kwong says:

    Leaving a new place for a new one is always bittersweet. As you said, it is an adventure awaiting you but a the same time you often leave behind a network of support. Leaving Singapore for Australia almost a decade ago really hurt me. For about five years after that, I wanted to leave Australia every day and go back to Singapore – I missed my friends, the busy lifestyle, the humid weather, the tan on my arms… With time I’ve come to realise I have a very lucky life in Australia and people here supported what I do. As sad as this may sound, over time I’ve learnt to block out anything associated with my past and that help heal the pain.

    That’s not to say my past will catch up with me. I’m sure it will at some point but if so, I will deal with it with a level-headed approach 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kally says:

      Hey Mabel, appreciative of you sharing this with us. I didn’t hurt as much as you when I left Singapore and Shanghai but I do miss the two countries dearly. Well, we are pretty fortunate to have the option of getting on a budget flight and fly back to visit whenever we want to. Before the baby, I would visit shanghai once a year and Singapore once every month.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. GP Cox says:

    Each place you live, you should live and enjoy to the fullest – your heart knows where home will always be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Good one, GP. I always try to live each day to the fullest. To me, life is way too short to waste it on regrets.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have moved rather a lot in my life span, not always volontary. I recognize the longing to the place one left and also the decay so to speak of the involvement with that place. Things pass. It took me quite a while to not only realize that but also really know it. You are a lucky woman to be able to collect such broad en wonderful experiences, friendships, knowledge. Nothing better to understand ones life and time then having seen other lives and cultures. The book of memories grows thicker and thicker. Keep being involved with those who you share this memories with. It’s a rather digusting habit of old people saying: do you remember…? But believe this old man, it’s keeping memories alive and it provides some kind of meaning to it all, if only a melancholic smile. 🙂 By the way: a very well written piece Kally, and let me finish with an ancient Mongolian saying: The man who moves ist the man who wins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts with me, Peter. I truly appreciate it and I do count my blessings everyday for I am able to travel and experience life like no other. Relocation really have opened up my eyes to a lot of things and sometimes I do feel that I don’t fit in anymore whenever I went back home to visit. No doubt I have had plenty of fond memories scattered everywhere to look back upon and to tell my grandchildren one day.

      Love your Mongolian quote, and to quote back “Home is wherever the heart is”.

      Liked by 1 person

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