I remember the times back in University where I allowed myself to shuffle in and out of superficial relationships, preferring not to cultivate deeper connections with the people around me lest they leave me eventually. I think a lot of it goes back to when I was growing up and moving from country to country every couple of years. It meant that the friendships I had forged in that short time were lost quickly upon leaving because we didn’t have Facebook, WhatsApp, mobile phones, email even, at the time. Friends I loved deeply soon became memories and as much fun as we had together, it was sad coming to terms with fading into the backgrounds of each others’ minds.

Perhaps this underlying fear that friends were transient made me shy away from trying harder to get to know my university peers. So I kept my close friends closer, and everyone else just became like those hazy faces your see in the reflections of windows – They were there, just never truly present to me.

Only in the last 5 years have I started to let go and realise that while people do come and go, there are those who stay in our lives. And it’s not just a one-sided effort to grow a friendship, it takes work on both parts just as in any other relationship. With Flo’s encouragement, we have formed a nice group of friends that we feel close to, almost like a kind of family. I can hang out with the girls alone sometimes, while the boys fire up their bromance, or we spend time together as a whole group.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated Alex’s birthday together. Since Amanda wanted to surprise the birthday boy by baking him a cake, she came over to Flo’s and mine’s to get some assistance in building him a Mario Mushroom inspired cake.

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She did wonderful work and while I hadn’t a clue at the time how we would go about constructing a good foundation for the cake, a wing and a prayer kind of made it happen.

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We made a cake pop base for the stem, and a light green and yellow vanilla sponge with buttercream for the head. Some fondant and voila!

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We managed to make it look similar enough to Mario’s Mushroom. Yoshi not included. 

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It was wonderful seeing how dedicated Amanda was to making sure this cake happened. And working with her was such fun! I am so proud of this little sister from another mister for the effort she put into making this cake for Alex especially when she has lamented to me many-a-time about her failed baking attempts.

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She’s definitely better at it than she thinks. Perhaps all she needed in the first place was some guidance because baking is after all a science before it is an art.

In the evening, we all met again, first the four of us for dinner, then to meet the rest of the group at Tanjong Beach Club where it was Barefoot Tiki Night! Not much Tiki music going on unfortunately but wherever there are awesome friends, there’s awesome fun to be had. 

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There was cake, and rum, and music.

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It was so funny because the birthday boy consumed most of the alcohol and at one point, he piggybacked Amanda, ran for the beach front nearer the sea, veered to the left a little and almost as if in slow-mo, there was a pause before he staggered to right, paused again, and then they both ended up tumbling onto the sand.

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It was a fun night where I had myself a cup of rum with coconut water just because I was intrigued by the combination. And yes, a cup not a glass because we’re cool like that – actually we had no choice that’s what TBC gave us. Thereafter, I felt my ears burning up a little and my face getting warm. #featherweight

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The only downside was that it was incredibly warm so at 11pm, we adjourned to Orchard Park Hotel to go for a session of karaoke.

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We sang until nearly 3am before calling it a night. While we weren’t able to have everyone in the group free to join us that evening, just being with this bunch made me so happy. They are truly blessings to me and came into my life when I least expected. It was only because of Lesley’s wedding a couple years ago when we first met and somehow, we all managed to bond and not just have good times together, but also share about rough times and difficult issues we may be facing with each other.

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I’ve had close girlfriends growing up but usually these were one-on-one friendships and I know that a part of me always wished to have a bunch of girlfriends that I could call on whenever, wherever. I found them. And while it may have been Alex’s birthday that day, I felt like I was the lucky one to be surrounded by all their naughty shenanigans and cheeky kisses, and ultimately their warmth, love and affection.

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To have my favourite man with me, and my friends dancing around me, for the first time in the longest time with a group of people of varying ages, backgrounds, and personalities but all with big hearts, I felt a sense of belonging. How can I not be happy?

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3 replies on “Belonging.

  1. Relationships are NOT one-way streets! I love that you preach this and apply it on yourself and circle of friends. Not many people put much focus on solid, meaningful relationships nowadays, but I am glad it is slowly spreading. Too many times we get too “busy” working on ourselves, but at the end of the day, those meaningful relationships are the ones that will matter in the long run when it comes to our health and happiness.

    1. Definitely! I realise how important it is to be surrounded by a group of close friends who care for and support you, and vice-versa. I think a lot of people get lost in the midst of ‘living i.e. work and routine’ that they forget about what is means to truly live. It’s not easy to strike a balance for sure but it’s important to at least make the effort to make time for friends and family in the same way they are willing to make time for you. I’m glad you see that too! 🙂

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