Don't get me wrong; I wasn't rude or anything, just quite direct about the fact that they didn't tell me that I had to bring my passport, and that I found that annoying. This must have ruffled his English feathers.
In all honesty, and I am saying this from a completely angst-free place, I feel quite over this place, this country even, the whole English thing. By this I don't mean that I hate Cambridge or the British or the UK; far from it. I still like the UK and I still like the Brits and I still dislike Cambridge because it's boring; so I suppose what I am saying is that...I'm just kind of bored of all of this. The novelty of hearing accent all the time has worn off, even as I maintain that it's the sexiest accent in the world. For some reason, this recent trip home has turned me inwards towards Singapore, so that more of my back is facing the rest of the world - and by 'rest of the world', I am really referring to the country in which I currently reside.
It follows, too, that I am just kind of bored of dating foreigners, 'Western' men. I am bored of having the same conversation about cultural differences, about where I'm from, where he's from, blah. My conversations with the Singaporean men that I went out with were so much more authentic and real than the conversations that I have on first dates with non-Singaporean men. But this is obvious, right? Being from the same place and hence having a similar formative background already sets the common ground on which me and him can then proceed, hence giving the impression of some intimacy, or authenticity, or whatever one wishes to call it. This commonality is obviously absent when I'm meeting someone from a different country - a different background - and so it feels more foreign, more disconnected.
I suppose it's just a bit tiring, the lack of familiarity in this foreign environment. No, that's not specific enough; it's the lack of stability, the lack of something sure and certain, the lack of someone who just knows things about me without me having to explain them. His Singaporeanness naturally matches mine, even if not perfectly; and I suppose I have missed that aspect of trying to form a connection with someone else without really realising it.
As for why it is important - I think the real question is, how is it not important? I'm not sure the onus is on me to justify the importance of nationality (this is circling back to my PhD but I can't help it; I've been thinking about this for the past month and a half), and the powerful emotions that one's country is capable of evoking in one. That this needs justification at all seems to be the result of the dominance of a liberal universalist theory about the equal importance of all human beings - which is a nice thought, but unrealistic, for it does not capture how we relate to each other and function in the world. We naturally gravitate towards others who are like us (and hence humans naturally think that animals are ours to enslave). We are friends with people with whom we share common things: a common educational experience, common interests, common beliefs, etc. So why would we not be attracted to people who share the same nationality, when so much of who we are has been defined by the country of whom we are nationals? (This does not apply to people who haven't had this sort of experience, of course.)
All this is quite strange for me to write. I have spent so much of my formative years and early adult life resenting Singapore and wanting to leave; and now, I think I might actually want to go back. I think being away from home has deepened my feelings for it. Of course, there are still many, many things about Singapore and Singaporeans that will always annoy me, and no, I will never get on board with the HDB flat marriage proposal shit (a diamond ring or nothing, thanks; what do you mean, be practical? What does that mean?). Still, this identity means a lot to me, even if it is not always a perfect fit.
And it's precisely because of how personal this is that I have been having a horrible time writing about it in my current PhD chapter. I don't even know where to go to find sources to support what I consider to be the Singaporean national identity. Why can't I cite myself as authority? I am Singaporean, so I should know, right? So far, this part of Chapter 4 is a whole load of unsubstantiated, or poorly substantiated, assertions. It obviously needs a lot more work. But I just want to finish the damn chapter once and for all.
I do not want to write about my PhD when I am not writing my PhD, so let's move on.
Alas, there's not much to move on to. I've just been going to the faculty and coming back to my room. I played tennis on Sunday morning with Etienne and it was really cold, because it's winter and Cambridge is cold and sad. The weather was abominable yesterday: dark, wet, cold, gloomy. I had an umbrella when walking back but the front of my jeans were soaked anyway. It was sunny today but so windy, and as I walked in the frigid wind, I couldn't help but think, 'I want to go home.' To the real home, that is, not to my room (notice how I am refraining from calling it 'home'? I do not want to cheapen the word).
I wanted to write about why I am actually not a patriot despite this entry, but I feel the jet lag hitting me quite hard and I am tired, so I'm just going post this now and watch The Crown and go to bed.