What’s the Worst Thing that Could Possibly Happen to You?

Most Formula One racers spend about four seconds in the pit stop. I’ve been here for a week.

Like a high-performance automobile, my body has been accelerating through my schoolwork all semester, dodging deadlines, careening between classes, whizzing past my competitors as they choke on the dust I leave behind in my wake. Midterms, homework assignments and practical exams disappear in my rearview mirror like so much unfortunate road kill. I spent most of the semester with my wheels barely touching the tarmac, oblivious to anything but the approaching finish line.

About a week ago, though, the engine started to falter.

I spent my first round of exams at around a thousand RPM (Revision-minutes Per Midterm), fuelling up on bottomless cups of tea and racing through the night. My body, ever the practical machine, knew I was too busy to get sick, and so took the liberty of rescheduling any impending sniffles or colds for sometime in mid-August 2014. Nevertheless, it was evident something didn’t feel quite right, but with Spring break approaching I knew I’d be fine if I kept pushing just a little bit longer.

I had interviews and coursework and more midterms, but I continued to ignore the warning lights that came flashing up, even as the ominous spluttering from under the hood grew ever louder. The little dents and scratches that usually managed to heal themselves began to accumulate, until I realized that my body was just too preoccupied to waste resources healing itself. Just a little further, I told it. Drag me past that chequered flag and we’ll be fine.

Eventually I was forced to see a doctor, whose advice I half-heard as I was flipping through textbooks in her examination room. Blood tests were taken just to be sure, but we all knew the oil was fine. All the engine really needed was a rest.

It came down to the final week. One last barrage of midterms and practicals, and I could put this disintegrating technology to rest. The balding tires, the unwashed grills, the rusting transmission, and at the very heart, a hiccuping engine held together by bubble-gum and the caffeine coursing through its valves.

And then, suddenly, I had finished.

I don’t remember much about packing my suitcase. I don’t remember my girlfriend driving me to the airport in the morning or checking in or taking my shoes off at security (was I even wearing shoes?). I don’t know if I had the aisle or was crammed into the window, or if I asked for extra peanuts.

I do, remember, however, seeing my mother try to sneak behind me at the carousel in an effort to surprise me, and then upon seeing my pale unwashed skin, wrap me up in a bear hug and half carry my luggage and me to the car outside. I do remember her plying me with sandwiches and drinks as my dad drove us home, and I do remember landing on the couch after walking through the door and waking up hours later with a blanket covertly wrapped around my body.

Through the course of my life, I have moved houses innumerable times across Asia, Europe and North America and after a few months at each new location my mum will ask me without fail, does it feel like home yet? And the answer is always yes, because wherever my mother is, be it Singapore, Southern California or Saturn’s rings, I will always feel like I’ve lived there my entire life.

And now, wrapped up each night in fat slabs of indulgent endless sleep, I can feel my body slowly putting itself together again. Each morning, I wake up with the sun streaming in my window, and for a split second I forget where I am. Then I catch the smell of scrambled eggs or porridge or lemon meringue pie wafting up from the kitchen downstairs, the door opens and my mum brings in a cup of tea and tells me what she has planned for the day, and there is no doubt in my mind about where I could possibly be. I am, of course, home.

So, I find myself now, firmly entrenched in a pit stop, changing my tires and cooling my pistons. I know that soon I will have to fly up north again, to return to the tarmac and the distant finish line, and in truth, I can’t wait to get back to burning rubber. But for the moment, you can keep your four seconds. I could easily stay here forever.


In the spirit of home comforts, I turn back now to possibly my favorite folk artist of all time. Josh Ritter, as some of you may know, has always been very dear to my heart, and when I received the official Josh Ritter Fan Club newsletter recently and learned that he was releasing his new EP ‘Bringing Home the Darlings’, I knew I had no choice but to indulge.

While I’m a little sad to say that most of the songs did not quite stand out for me, one in particular has been constantly repeating itself on my iPod. ‘Why’ has just the right combination of beautiful harmonies and heart-rending lyricism to lodge itself inside your head for weeks. Ritter excels when he is at his most simple, with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his faux-country vocals. Presumably this EP will lead on to a full-fledged album, and I’ll be counting the days.

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5 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. anonymouse says:

    I read that at a mile a minute. Feel I lived those tumbling-over-one-another weeks with you. I hope you’re healed now. Or at least with batteries so fully charged that you can deal with what life plans to throw at you THIS week!

  2. Rabid reader says:

    I see only three reasons why you haven’t given us the result of those exams –

    1) not got them back yet
    2) so awful you’d make us all feel bad for you
    3) so brilliant you’d make us all feel bad for ourselves

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Funny, I saw the title of this pop up in Reader and thought, “Hey, that’s a line from one of the new songs!” I agree that for the most part the songs on this EP don’t really stand out, but they are so pretty. I love their simplicity. I mean, I like it when he really rocks, too, but having this set of a few sweet songs has made me so happy.

  4. Natasha says:

    Oh, I’m happy you said something. I was also disapppointedly underwhelmed by the new Josh Ritter EP.

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