Midweek, I find myself thinking of rain. The boundaries of all the possibility I’ve spent this year lingering inside of. Gap year, by which I mean move slowly, pay attention. By which I mean eyes up. It’s the final year I will have this joyful torrential rain. I am trying to hold it close.
When I am asked why I chose to take a gap year at home in Singapore before attending university in the U.S., I don’t always have a good answer. I wanted a year for myself, yes. I wanted to spend time with family, focus on my mental health, travel, I wanted to grow my businesses, nurture all the seedlings of ideas that I knew wouldn’t have time to bloom in the brilliant chaos of college. Also, I wanted to take a nap. But mostly I think I wanted one year more of that rain.
It’s been such a long & love-locked year. I wrote & launched a new book. Released journal issues. I spent ten days in Jogjakarta on whim because the flights were cheap. Six weeks travelling through Europe, staying with friends & readers in each new city. Attended open mics, plays, concerts. Went to the cinema at one in the afternoon on a weekday, took up a whole row because no one else was there to chastise me for it. Hosted musical & literary events. Applied for scholarships. Wrote columns. Published a peer-reviewed scholarly paper. Practised my terrible French & my only slightly less terrible Mandarin. Pet my dog. Did interviews for national newspapers. Got a job, quit, got another, & then one more. Took that nap. Forgot the quadratic formula. Sat always inside the rain.
Meanwhile, my friends text me from their astrophysics classes at Columbia University, Snapchat videos of time-lapsed sunsets from UC Santa Barbara, tell me in all caps how they just met the US Poet Laureate at the University of Chicago, surreptitiously take photos & ask me to rate the cuteness of boys in their introductory Latin classes at Cornell, Facetime for my advice on their party outfits at Michigan State. In a year that will be me. It’s all so close—closer than close. But for now I am still able to tease them when they tell me how much they regret taking advanced calculus, how they suspect two of their professors have secret crushes on one another, how they’ve changed their intended majors for the fourth time in two weeks.
I believe there is a masterpiece in this, too—in being the only one who hasn’t moved an inch, the only one who has moved so astoundingly far. The world is large right now. The rain is still within reach. There are paths to everywhere, & if university beckons like sweetness, it can wait a few months longer. The hands & all the senses make song out of emptiness.
Gap year, by which I mean freedom. By which I mean peel these hours like grapefruit, hold these days like porcelain. By which I mean we will never have this time again, I mean feverish & haloed, I mean work till midnight, sleep till noon, I mean run the extra hour, I mean book the plane ticket, I mean click send, I mean right here, now, for the first time in our lives, we have nowhere to be, we have everything to do. I mean the rain is coming soon & maybe part of me can’t help but hold it as long as I can, just one year longer. Possibility flickers, blue-gold on the horizon. Eyes up. Let’s go.