Annette was the most perfect person I had ever met.
She was a student, but she was also a ballerina. By conventional definitions, she was not the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, but when she smiled, it felt like the world smiled with her. When she danced, it felt like time slowed down and the world revolved around her as her arms and legs seemed to trace lines on an invisible canvas that stretched all around her. When she looked at me with her crystal-blue eyes, it was like nothing else in the world mattered and that all she saw was me.
I used to live right on the beach. Our southward facing windows looked over the boardwalk, the sand, the ocean, and the horizon; as the days grew longer and shorter, I used to think about tracing, in white pen on the windows, the growing and shrinking arcs the sun followed as the days went by a la John Nash. There is nothing quite as naturally beautiful as the rising sun, and one of the mornings before I had to leave this home forever, I went out to sit on the sand to watch this marvel just before dawn.
There was a clear and cloudless sky with the stars silently twinkling at me. There wasn’t much wind that night, but once in a while, a gentle breeze would blow from behind me. It was strong enough to shift the sand dunes around me, but it wasn’t strong enough to cause it to kick up into my eyes as I sat there. The salty smell of the ocean was there, as always; a few times, I closed my eyes and tried to permanently capture this reassuring and consistent smell, along with the feel of the sand, mixed with small seashells and tiny pebbles scattered throughout, and the sound of the breeze, in my mind – this wonderful memory of my first real home outside Singapore. This nest that I had spent seven years living in. The place where I learned about a new culture and that I had finally felt like I had begun to belong to.