Couch Potato. Most of Monday-Friday is spent on the couch. Reading the spellbinding short stories of The Turning and newspapers, noting grains of gold down in my journal, snoozing, dreaming, scrolling through pictures of alluring interior design, architecture, art and nature and cute dogs on Instagram, texting with friends, sleeping. My right knee, shin and foot are throbbing and aching, screaming to be positioned high above my heart. It’s remarkable how quickly I feel lazy and useless and far removed from activity. I miss the outside world, but I also can’t believe how easy it used to be to venture out into it, just a week ago. Walking, running, yoga, pilates, barre, cycling and swimming are vital elements of my normal daily life, brining me harmony, clarity and bliss between work, socialising and everything else. All of those things seem so far away now, though, and I tell myself it’s healthy to be reminded that there are so many other factors at play, external and internal, when it comes to obtaining and maintaining my physical and mental balance. Currently, I crave sleep.
Expeditions. And then there are the occasional, brief and brave trips down to the bakery and Tiong Bahru Club or up to PS Petit for drinks or snacks, always with S, slowly making my way with my arms wrapped around the crutches and my right leg bent ever so softly as I try to ignore the uncomfortable pressure of too much blood hanging out in my chubby foot.
My Boyfriend is loving, caring, calm, cheerful and patient – as always, but it’s something that’s particularly worthy of appreciation now. It comes to expression by him being more domestic than ever, taking care of all the grocery shopping, cooking and clearing up, helping me in the shower, picking out outfits and dressing me, watering the flowers and organising stuff. Spending hours and hours hanging out on the couch with me, making space for my elevated legs, watching TED talks and Netflix, chatting, hugging. Introducing me to soothing breathing exercises and collagen-boosting binaural beat tracks. Ordering Ubers and coming with me to the hospital and the physiotherapist, as a complete matter of course. In figuring out how to navigate partial immobility, he makes life so much easier by just being him and by saying all the important things – that what’s important now is my health. We both celebrate it as a true miracle when by the end of the week I can put weight on my foot again. The healing chemicals are still hard at work and causing so much pain, but at least it’s uplifting to know that it’s a positive pain; it’s not getting worse; it’s getting better; I can start walking and getting some motion back into the joints; I can stop feeling bad (although I know I shouldn’t) about S taking care of everything for me and start doing most things myself again.
Progress. On Wednesday, talking to an orthopedic surgeon recommended to me by a friend for his great experience with fixing knees (“you’ll want someone whose bread and butter it is to do knees”, she says, which I hadn’t even thought about), I decide to push surgery (meniscus repair and ACL reconstruction) until after our trip to Europe (end of May-beginning of June). That way, I’ll most definitely be able to walk around free from pain and crutches in Jutland, Copenhagen and Spain, exploring with S and catching up with friends, and to go to London for work all on my own, and my mum will be able to come out here and look after me after surgery, when S will be in Australia. I think his immediate feeling is that I should prioritise surgery now and cancel the Europe trip, but once we’ve talked it over for a while, it feels like the right decision for me – and it feels great to have it scheduled. I won’t be able to dance wildly at the wedding we’re going to in Copenhagen, swim off the beach where my parents live, run in Victoria Park or hike excessively in the Costa Blanca hills, and I won’t be able to get back into my usual exercise routine until 7 months from now, but at least I know more or less what will happen – there’s a plan for my healing. No marathon in September, but definitely skiing in February. The surgeon gives (well, sells, expensively) me a brace to put on the knee, and that feels nice and safe, albeit the rather unsexy look. Slowly I can start putting weight on the leg and take less pills, and also work from home. I start physiotherapy on Friday, thrilled to be learning some useful exercises and getting invigorating massages, and then I’m able to go to the gym for a gentle workout in the pool and on a mat on Saturday morning, and to walk without crutches … on Sunday!
Care Packages. I receive flowers, fresh fruit and teddy bears from my Singapore office and also from my teams in London and Boston. So heart-warming! The flat is practically a hot house, so full of plants everywhere, what with the cut-off flowers from work, S and my family as well as a whole range of potted orchids and green plants given to us by the friend who moved to Copenhagen last week. And I start translating articles for the next issue of Blad, a sort of verbal horticultural therapy. And, able to limp around on my own in the flat, I try out the Korean face mask, which a friend sent me last week, loving the soft and luxurious texture of the soaked white cotton. So much care! 🙂
Overeasy, Tomi Sushi, Pan Pacific. After physiotherapy, celebrating my progress, we take a beautiful sunset walk along the city-side of the marina bay, the sunlight reflected so beautiful in the pillars of the iconic hotel on the opposite side. It’s slow, but it’s good – so great to be out and about, beyond Tiong Bahru. A drink at Overeasy, sharing a giant chirashi don at the counter of the Marina Square branch of Tomi Sushi, watching the skilled chefs artfully at work as we tuck into the delicious raw slices of fish, scallop and prawn, and finally, a night cap in my favourite hotel lobby, where the bar tables are like small private islands in a dazzlingly blue sea.
Holland Village Tour. Continuing the celebrations of my pedestrian abilities on Saturday morning, we go to Holland Village straight after our morning stretches for a good açai bowl (it’s not great – think we’ve got a qualified top 10 in Singapore, by now!) and freshly squeezed green juice at the Norwegian cafe, Haakon, a light, bright, mall-y sleek spot, where we sit in the window and look out upon the world while enjoying our treats. Then we stroll down to Baker and Cook for a loaf of Danish rye bread, peep into the gallery, Taksu, to check out a cool exhibition of local artists’ cool black and white street photos from Hong Kong and piles of coloured dust, and the stylish bookbinding atelier, Bynd Artisan, a calm, quiet, minimalist-feeling yet extravagant eldorado of displays of paper, leather samples and binding mechanisms of various textures, grains, colours and prints, from which you can costumise your own notebook – which is even refillable! The gentleman showing us around tells us that they do workshops – for bookbinding, but also for folding paper flowers. There’s a big bunch of freshly created bright scarlet red silk paper carnations on one of the tables. From that treasure box, we venture onto Monocle, where we have (Allpress) coffee and listen to the news from Midori House in the leafy backyard. Ah.
Tiong Bahru. In the afternoon, we meet friends for drinks and a chat about everything and nothing at Tiong Bahru Club, comfortably leaning back in the deck chairs in the walkway we cook a random tapas-y dinner of what we have left in the fridge, while sipping chilled red wine, before falling asleep to TED Talks about the science of happiness.
With Love from Reykjavik. Sunday morning I find a postcard in the postbox, a rare and unexpected slice of joy in the usual pile of ads and bills, from one of the only people I know who still uses this lovely physical greeting method. It’s a friend who’s holidaying in Iceland, and who sends her wishes for a quick recovery with a warm praise of the chilly country. Makes me smile every time I look at it from its central place in our growing corridor card collection gallery.
Brunch in the ‘Hood. Armed with four steaming coffees and a loaf of fresh sourdough bread from the bakery, we walk up to the flat where I stayed for the first six months in Singapore, in Tiong Poh Road, for brunch with my old flatmates and the cute cockerspaniel they’re babysitting. It’s the first time I’m back in the flat since moving out, and it’s so funny how memories of those first months, my emotions and thoughts, the special feeling of joy and excitement, the ‘newness’ of it all, the music I listened to at the time, come back to me as we walk up the stairs. Walking back and forth between the kitchen and the livingroom carrying items for the table, I’m reminded of how much I really enjoyed living here. I moved while the game was good, as we say in Danish. We get along so well with the couple, who’ve prepared quite a treat – fluffy, juicy eggs scrambled with turmeric and garlic, overnight chia seeds mixed with soy milk and pureed berries, fresh tropical fruit salad and ripe tomatoes sliced and drizzled with basil leaves and olive oil. Yum.
Sunset Cinema. On Sunday evening, it’s mystery date time. My turn – I’ve invited S for a screening of Lion, which we’ve talked about watching ever since I read the book in March following our trip to India, at Tanjong Beach. Rows and rows of white and blue striped beach chairs turning towards a big screen set up against a backdrop of palm trees, ocean and sunset. Lots of joyful people milling around the area, under garlands of light baubles, between food and drink tents and the wide, yellow beach. With a batch of meaty oysters and a chilled bottle of Shiraz, we sit down in the soft sand (haha, I’m so grateful that I can walk through the sand and sit down and get up and everything!) and smile at each other and the setting sun. As soon as the orange bowl of light has hit the ocean and stars start twinkling in its place, we take a seat in the striped chairs, put on our flawless sound-cancelling headsets and watch the fantastic film, which makes us both weep with happiness.