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The Part of You That Stayed There

My family and I recently vacationed in Singapore.

When I was 13, I spent two years of my life there.

I developed a relationship with the country over those two years and I continued to visit each year until I was 22.

Then I didn't visit Singapore for close to 13 years.

This post is my attempt to explain the feeling I had when I went back after all that time.


Singapore is hot. If you learn nothing else in this post, just know that the heat is a feature of the country.

We arrived in Singapore in the late afternoon after an eight-hour flight. The kids didn't sleep on that flight, so it felt like a 14-hour flight.

Really, I count our first day in Singapore as beginning the following morning.

It was a clear morning. Heat already fully present.

Our hotel was "downtown," which in Singapore refers to a single street, Orchard Road.

The school I went to when I was 13 was located in the middle of Orchard Road and happened to be about 200 metres from our hotel.

This place was basically my second home for the two years that I lived here. I knew this area very, very well.

After a lovely breakfast where our kids got to experience a buffet for the first time, we went outside together as a whole family.


The streets were relatively quiet. It was around 8:45am on a Tuesday morning.

I remember the patterns at this time of day so well because my school used to start just before 9:00am.

A younger version of me would have just been leaving our regular meeting spot at McDonalds and now be walking these very same streets to come to the front gates of school.

When we began to walk around that morning, I started to have this very strange feeling.

Often words are insufficient for this kind of thing, but the best way I can describe it is I felt like anything was possible.

I had a strange positive energy and felt like even if our kids had a 10-hour meltdown right in that moment, that would be totally fine.

I told my wife about this feeling, and I said that I wanted to understand what on earth it was all about.

It was incredibly satisfying, perhaps even slightly addictive. I wanted to hold on to this feeling as long as I possibly could.

We stayed in Singapore for five nights.

After that first day, I only had glimpses of that feeling on the following days. I never fully experienced it again.


When we came back to Canada and I started work again, I told my teammates about our trip.

I didn't bring up the feeling, but I did explain that I used to live in Singapore and that we stayed very close to where I went to school.

One of my teammates then said something that rocked my world. She managed to explain the feeling, without me even mentioning I had it.

Soni, if you're reading this, you were that teammate.

She said something like this:

When we make memories in a certain place, a small part of us remains in that place. When we visit that place, even after several years, we meet the part of ourselves that stayed there.

It's such an incredibly beautiful thought, isn't it?

After I heard it and thought about it, I realized that it perfectly described that feeling I had.

For a day, I felt like I was 13 again. Full of possibility, with the energy to handle almost anything.

I am sure that when I was actually 13, life wasn't like that every day. But it's as if when I met the part of myself that I left in Singapore, I only met the full-of-possibility part.


What I love most about thinking back on this feeling is two-fold.

Firstly, I would never have guessed that I would experience anything like this. I knew our trip was happening and I had known that for several months. I was excited, but I was never expecting to have a feeling like this.

Secondly, I don't think I will forget this feeling anytime soon. As I sit down to write the draft of this post, it's been almost 20 days since that first morning in Singapore. I can still recall the feeling quite easily.

I don't know how much I can generalize here. I don't know if there is a lesson for you in this post, dear reader.

Perhaps, as you read this, you were reminded of a place you made memories in. A time when your life was very different than it is now.

If life happens to present the opportunity for you to go back there, go.

You never know who you'll meet.

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