First Chinese New Year Without My Family

It feels strange, spending this Chinese New Year without my family.

Two weeks ago, armed with a bag of traditional goodies, I landed in Leeds, England. This place was as foreign to me as Antartica or Africa. It was a place that I've chanced upon, a place that had been represented by pixels on a computer screen. It seemed fictitious, a place that I could discover only through books, Yahoo and Google.

But it has become a real place with people and parks and snow - a place no longer constructed from my imagination. It is cold - much colder than Singapore - and the winds are bone-biting. I no longer scoff at descriptions of gusts that blow people about.

Snow drifts with melodic rhythms. They dance in a spirals, on air currents made visible. Flakes of whiteness, flaking, swirling, they are free. And I feel like them. Free. Free from a tangle of social expectations, free in a foreign land. Free from a mind that keeps constructing, free from the must-bes, the could-bes, the ought-to-bes.

Unlike others, I don't miss my friends or my favourite haunts or the food in Singapore. I don't miss my schoolmates or the satay beehoon. They'd be there when I'm back - different perhaps, but still there.

Then, Chinese New Year rolled about and I realised that I'm supposed to miss my family.

How do I go about missing people? Is there a step-by-step guide? Isn't missing people supposed to be more ... instinctive?

Then, my father sent me photos of the family feasting, He left a message on Facebook, reminding me to wear more clothes when sleeping. I have the habit of kicking off my blanket while asleep and he often picks up the blanket to cover me again. He can't do it now, given that we're on different continents.

My cousin tagged me in a video of the entire family - almost fifty people - holidaying in Malaysia. They were setting off fireworks and laughing.

Perhaps it's easier to miss people, easier that I've imagined. Perhaps, I was missing the idea of missing.