A Third Culture Kid’s Experience: An Ode to Overthinking Choices24 November 2020
In my dream, I stand at the triple crossroads. Oily yellow light spills down onto the bitumen, barely illuminating the roads’ beginnings. To the eastern fork, I see the klongs of Bangkok, hear an echo over the long-tail boats: “this way to your past”. To the western way, the Australian countryside stretches infinitely, drowning in heavy rainfall: “this way to your future”. To the northern road, a Janus-voice of twin-speaking conjurers, beckoning me to choose their shadowed path: “our ways are unknown”.
The sweltering mid-morning light peels open my eyes. Coffee is the first thing I am drawn to upon waking, routine and rhythmic: the buzz of the machine, heating of the milk, tap of the spoon against the cup’s porcelain rim. I’m lying. It’s not porcelain, but cheap ceramic from the two-dollar section. Porcelain is what the wealthy, thirty-something successful version of myself would own. She would make coffee from expensive, home-ground beans and drink it while looking out of her curtain-framed windows in London. Or France. Or Singapore. Just like her childhood, she would have moved six, seven times, the cities amalgamating in a maelstrom of nostalgia and estrangement. She would have added to the list of ‘languages I can count to ten in’. Or maybe, just maybe, she would have settled down, belonging somewhere, the city fabricated within her—a fool’s hope, something I do not understand yet.
After breakfast I go for a run, slipping into athleisure. It’s better fitting and nicer than what I could afford to wear at seventeen, but the body that wears them is no longer as strong. Every strained footfall against the cement, every stitch at the next half-kilometre seems an insult to the afternoon practices I had endured after the bell. Have I let myself go since I left Thailand? Have the Melbourne cafés made my stomach pudgier? This run is solitary unlike soccer practice, my friends laughing on the stands during water breaks, gossiping about who, what, when, where, why; they’re all far away now, a by-product of our diaspora from Bangkok after graduation. It’s kind of sad I don’t have that many friends here. Am I boring? Maybe if I tone my stomach people will love me again.
Fresh from the shower, I sit at my desk to stare at the blank document. Go make more coffee, I urge myself. The words will flow better then, but caffeine is like arriving in an unfamiliar country—empty expectations wrapped in strong smells. I did not write a word of my book like I had hoped. That’s another lie. Maybe a few hundred words? Still not good enough. Why am I never good enough? I slam my laptop shut after the arduous hour, the frustration festering, itching for a cigarette to blow my anxieties out the window. I don’t smoke, though.
It’s just another romance I’ve imagined for my life, falling, falling, for who I will never be.