The Little Drummer Boy

6 08 2008

I met up with a friend last night who’s leaving Singapore in 11 days to pursue a long-time dream: to perfect the art of rhythmically banging a set of nicely lacquered wooden cylinders bound with tightly wound skins using a pair of sticks in the most complex manner possible. Once in a while he also involves metal plates in the process. And yes, there are educational certifications for this kind of thing.

I would never have thought he’d be able to transcend into jazz drumming. When I first met him, he was an overzealous punk drummer who couldn’t keep time (though to his benefit, he was usually only off a split second). That being said, we had a lot of fun in our day, and still do. We were close enough friends for my mother to think at one point we were bisexual lovers, and I still sometimes wonder if I should have cleared that up properly with my mother.

Today, he’s grown into a fine, dread-locked young man who unfortunately will not be filling the void of talented local drummers here, and only because he’s flying to New York.

The reason why it’s important for me to mention him today is because, as with most friends that go overseas either to study, work or find a girlfriend, I don’t really know if I’ll ever see him again. The thing I find increasingly fascinating about Singapore is that it somewhat reflects that old Hotel California cliche: when you start thinking for yourself, you realise you’ve checked in, but you’ll always want to leave (cue guitar solo).

I had the same feeling when my wife (before she was my wife) left for Canada. It helped that I had gotten over my fear of computers and ICQ was in its prime during that period, but when someone in your life, whether it be someone close or just a mere acquaintance, decides to partake in a semi-permanent life in a land far, far away (herein defined as anything that takes more than 4 hours to get to by plane), there’s always a niggling feeling in you that they might actually not think of coming home at all, ever.

It’s almost like someone is dying, except you’ll probably still get to talk on MSN Messenger once in a while after the person goes.

My wife also mentioned last night that going overseas for an extended period of time can really change a person. She says when one makes that step into the big world and starts to discover what it is really like, one of two things can happen; you either get into the swing of things and assimilate into a new lifestyle that is required of your environment, or you get culture shock and lock yourself up in your room. Either way, you become cynical, jaded, and lose that childlike innocence that everybody likes about you. I’m not sure if that’s gonna happen to this guy, but these days, I’m not sure about a lot of things. I’m cynical that way.

That being said, he is already making changes to his persona in preparation for the Big Apple. He’s got dental work done, and contact lenses; after all, jazz drummers from New York don’t wear braces, and all that flaying around with sticks and metal plates means spectacles are also out of the question. He’s never thought of using, much less buying, a laptop, and last night he asked for advice on buying a Mac, which he somewhat regretted after remembering what I wrote about the topic of advice. And in the days of the little drummer boy and me in school, I’d almost always pay for his lunch because he was mostly broke. Last night he paid for dinner.

I never like admitting I fear change, but I do feel another chapter of my life being relegated into the already-read pages of a book I won’t get a chance to read again.

There is probably a chance we’ll meet again. He still owes me a copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Omnibus I lent him in school, not to mention a bunch of CDs I’ve long since forgotten about.

And I want to believe we’ll meet again.


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