Seven years ago on April 2, I married my husband in downtown Chicago.
We tied the knot in a small ceremony at Branch 76, a hotspot built inside an old library, which has since closed. We had a huge reception at The Tasting Room wine bar, which was located next to Oprah’s Harpo Studios but is also now closed.
Nevertheless, we persist. We are still going strong living here in Singapore.
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In fact, every anniversary we’ve ever celebrated has been here since our move to Southeast Asia. We married in April 2011 and had our employment and dependent passes by September. The big move for me was January 2012. I arrived 3 months pregnant and ready to take on a new life! With a now-5-year-old daughter, we’ve taken it all in stride.
For the anniversary celebrations since leaving Chicago, let’s recap:
1st Anniversary: Morton’s Chicago Steak House at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (USDA beef and California Cab!)
2nd Anniversary: Tempat Senang Spa, Batam, Indonesia (spaaaaa)
3d Anniversary: Marina Bay Sands Suite and Wolfgang Puck’s The Cut steak house (cool place)
4th Anniversary: Morton’s Chicago Steak House (more USDA and wine….)
5th Anniversary: Telunas Private Island, Indonesia (No Internet connections….amazing break from the world!)
6th Anniversary: The Cut steak house (not as cool as it used to be)
You may have noticed we have a penchant for steak houses, being from Chicago and all. There’s a few to choose from here, but we truly prefer our hometown locale, Morton’s, and are never disappointed. They will even do up a customized celebratory menu for special occasions.
But, back to #7.
This year, we are on the no-plan plan: My husband is on CNBC the next day, which pretty much cancels out cracking the bubbly on the actual date. Also, our daughter is on school holidays and was promised a trip to LEGOLAND in Malaysia if she had good behaviour.
Couched between Easter and my 47th birthday later this month, I’ve had a challenging time planning this one. Right now, it’s baked chicken breast with an Indonesian sambal of chilis and lemongrass with green beans, all home-cooked by our wonderful helper, Tita Rose, who’s been with us since late 2012 and is considered part of the family. Pair that with 2017 Polar water from the home dispenser–said to be a very good year – and we’ve got Year 7 in the bag.
When I consider that every anniversary has been here in Singapore, it drives home the fact that this is indeed home. Even though we like to hit the same steak houses, we do know of many other options, like Pollen or Iggy’s, to recommend to friends and visitors. Certainly, there are amazing options for special-occasion dinners here. But, I feel like we know enough of the town to get around and still prefer to fall back on the old favourites.
And even though the city of Chicago is truly our “old favourite” place to live as well as get steaks and wine, we know we are pretty lucky to be here in Singapore. It’s been a fabulous seven years and I’m looking forward to many more seeking out USDA beef and California Cab in the Lion City. With that, each other and the little family we have built here, we have everything we need.
About Andrea McKenna Brankin
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.
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