Three weeks. Not a long time to make two transitions: from our idyllic stay in Germany to our home in Acton for Christmas, and from Acton to Singapore for the next six months. Shortly before Christmas, we packed in a hurry, had last minute visits with dear friends, and shipped home a few boxes of recent acquisitions and gifts (not all of which have yet arrived in Acton). Acton was lovely as ever, especially with a light snowfall, and our beloved family around us. Best of all was our baby granddaughter, our first grandchild, experiencing Christmas for the first time, and using all her senses to enjoy it.
Acton was also lovely because of the people who live there. One generous, warm-hearted family in our neighborhood invited all two dozen families who live there into their home two days before Christmas! We all took a few minutes to stroll our little streets admiring one another’s holiday lighting (except ours, of course, since we didn’t have time to decorate outdoors). My family is now (after almost 20 years in Acton) the longest-surviving homeowners in the neighborhood and there were quite a few neighbors whom we’d never met before. We were delighted to meet several families who’ve lived in Germany or other parts of Europe and who share our desire to bring to Acton a little of what we learned to love in Europe.
My Dear Husband and I laughed when we remembered the last all-neighborhood party we know about: our own house-warming party in 1993! We invited not just our quirky, individualistic friends from academia, but also neighbors we’d never met. It was not followed up by any other all-neighborhood parties (at least, to which we were invited) with the exception of a home-sales party which I should not have attended since we’d spent all our money moving to Acton. Until this year, almost 20 years later! Such a good time was had by all that we vowed as a neighborhood to do this kind of thing more often. And then, a week later, we moved to Singapore!
This move entailed digging out, and trying on, all my summer clothes. We had to collect six months worth of our medications and our favorite health and beauty aids. We were each allowed two large suitcases, and two carry-ons since my Dear Husband’s work assignment, which requires this six-month stay in Singapore, provided us with business-class seats on Singapore Airlines.
The perk of a second suitcase was nice, since I was able to bring practically all my summer clothes, but the flight, all 18 hours of it, was a treat in itself. The airline is planning to discontinue the non-stop flight to Singapore from Newark later this year, but not before we return to the US in six months. Everything about the flight—the flight attendants who addressed me by name, the delicious food, the extremely comfortable seat/bed we each had, and the 800 choices of audio and video entertainment—was a pleasure. I especially noticed and appreciated the way each family with children was brought aboard by an individually-assigned airline employee, who helped each child get settled before the rest of us came aboard. There were a lot of children on the flight (who can afford a $10,000 ticket for a pre-schooler?) but we heard almost nothing from them during all 18 hours of the trip.
Thanks to those comfortable airline seats, we were almost rested when we arrived at Changi Airport. We were able to stay awake for most of the first day, which is amazing when you consider that Singapore’s time zone is 13 hours ahead of Acton’s. We have settled into the furnished, serviced apartment that will be our home until July. We have already grown to love the view of the Singapore River from our windows. My Dear Husband has spent weekdays in what will be his office for the next six months, and I have begun to map out, and to put into action, my plan to come to know and understand this nation-city better than I did when we spent six months here in 2001. And I’m really glad I excavated from my closet and brought along my most comfortable pair of sandals, because that plan entails a lot of walking.