Sunday, June 16, 2019

11 Oz years (part 2)

This is the second part of the series highlighting how my last 11 years living in Australia went and how they have impacted me (it will officially be 11 years in 6 days). The entire series is here: 1 2 3 4.


Husband & Husband

Ision and I met online on a dating site called Fridae back in 2007 when I was still living in Singapore. The relationship underwent a long-distance phase for a year before I decided to move to Australia. On the eve of our 3rd anniversary, we made the relationship open which was really the only sensible thing to do. Looking back, I'm very glad we could progress our relationship in that logical and mature way i.e. what we think is the only way to ensure its longevity.

In 2013, we got into a civil union under UK law in the consulate (Ision has a UK passport) and you can read more about that here. Although we've been in an Australian defacto relationship a few years before that, the civil union took it a step further albeit being more of a symbolic thing back then. When UK allowed consulates to convert civil unions to full marriages when they legalised same-sex marriages in 2014, on our 8th anniversary, we did just that which involved nothing more than signing on a piece of paper and paying a fee. The marriage was sadly still not legal once we stepped out of the consulate.

A year later in 2016, we held our wedding reception in Singapore where we only invited family and a small group of close friends. It was unfortunate that my in-laws couldn't make it but at least they came for the civil union ceremony. I also wrote a song for Ision and sang it during our wedding. I posted a 7-part series documenting that special day and you can find it here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. The push for same-sex marriage in Australia started to grow stronger and two years ago, it was finally made legal and that significant event was posted here. There was nothing we needed to do as our UK marriage was automatically recognised in Australia. And last month Ision and I celebrated our 12th anniversary and now we're all caught up.

That's our relationship in a nutshell which changed quite a bit over the last 11 years. Like all married couples past a certain number of years, we've become more like family and it's that familiarity and unwavering companionship that we find really comforting and crucial to sustain. We can always find someone else better in some departments but you can't easily replicate that warm quality of having someone you've loved for more than a decade who will accept you for all your flaws and idiosyncrasies. So why risk what you have now and step into the risky unknown unless of course you're really unhappy in your relationship which is definitely not the case here.


Since our marriage under UK law, I've started using the word "husband" in daily conversations even at work. It was awkward at the start and I always had to change to "partner" when I began to feel uneasy. Like all things, practice makes perfect and I can say I'm now 95% comfortable using this term. I know I'll get to 100% eventually but it's becoming more of a non-issue nowadays anyway. I'm Ision's husband and Ision is my husband and we'll sail through life that way for the next 11 years and beyond.


Homecoming

Throughout my 11 years, the biggest things I have missed are the 3 F's - food, family and friends. Fortunately my two-year work stint in Papua New Guinea meant the fly-in/fly-out arrangement gave me four-week breaks every two months and hence the chance to go back home more often. When that was over and work became less secure, I no longer had the chance to visit home as and when I wanted. Fast forward three years and my missing of those 3 F's is becoming increasingly hard to bear.

Just when I thought work was becoming more stable which was also the time when my 10-year long service leave became available for use, I booked my tickets for a long homecoming trip and made lots of plans in anticipation. Sadly I had to cancel the trip because of a new work position that I've taken up which you can read more about here. I was entitled to a limited refund and it was all thanks to my perseverance in following up with Jetstar that I got it back and then some. You see, they made a mistake and gave me a full refund which is all the sweeter as my company has already reimbursed me in full for the cancellation!

I was determined to realise those thwarted plans and the only way I could do it whilst on secondment is to do it when my recently-extended work contract ends in December this year. Although there's still a chance that they'll take me on further, I'll only know more towards the end of the year. As I couldn't wait that long, I had to draw a line in the sand and prioritise my homecoming over work for it to really happen. With that determination, I've bought my tickets to have that holiday I was deprived of earlier this year, albeit a slightly shorter one (still quite significant at almost 7 weeks though). This will be my first time flying with Scoot and here's my itinerary:


So mark your calendars and be prepared for I'll be in Singapore on Christmas Day till the last day of the 15-day Lunar New Year period which means I'll definitely have enough time to do what I originally set out to do plus squeeze in a few more items that I've just added to the list, as follows:

  • Nocturnal food activities e.g. going for supper with friends in an attempt to cross off all the eating places listed here, visiting as many night markets as possible, an outdoor durian-gorging fest, etc. Mmmm... durian...
  • Video shoot with a photographer friend for one or more of my compositions. We've talked about it only briefly but we'll now need to seriously plan for it. This is very exciting as I've ALWAYS wanted my own music videos.
  • Visiting Jewel at Changi Airport. I've seen so many friends posting on Facebook about their experience there and I need to see it for myself. I plan to go there with my mum i.e. my partner-in-crime of choice.
  • Explore the numerous farmer's markets that have sprouted over the years using this as my reference.
  • Do my next series of topless karaoke (the previous series can be found here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8).
  • Going through the places featured on this mouth-watering site and pick at random a few places to try out every day.

As you can see, a lot of activities centre around food and so I need to stick to my gym routine ever-so-strictly. To be honest, I don't even mind getting a little fat from this trip as my cravings for real Singapore food (and kopi-c!) is at the point of tearing me apart.

I'm glad Singapore has become more interesting over these 11 years living away from home which gives me even less excuse to not visit more frequently. The most important reason however is still to see my mum as she's getting older and frailer. Us overseas children need to grab every opportunity to visit our parents while we still can and nothing else should really matter, and I can finally do that in 6 months' time.


So what are the other themes I'll be covering in the third post of my "11 Oz years" series? You'd have to wait for a week more to find out.

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