Almost Three Years


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“I deliberately picked a seat on the aisle because I wasn’t patient enough to jump out of the plane. And Surabaya was gray, cloudy. The rain became such a gloomy welcome, after almost three years.”


If you ask me if I was really keen to fly home after two years plus which was the longest I had ever been away, the answer is no. I was feeling like “it’s not a big deal” even if I have to wait till the end of this year but I was thrilled I did it.

The pandemic was something else. It has changed few things in life we have never thought before. I remember, on Sunday afternoon in my room, I had a courage to sit and concentrated thinking about my itinerary. That time I was started feeling excited to think about the best flight to choose, how long my transit time would be, how about things to prepare when I landed in Jakarta as you know there are so many updates on the health protocols at the airport, and my wish to see Mbak Ririn when I was still in Jakarta (which we met!). 

I knew I would feel maudlin when I landed in Surabaya. The first person who always came to the airport every time I fly back home was Ruli, a best friend of mine who passed away because of Covid last year. It still feels hard for me not to find him not only at the airport, but during my stay in Indonesia, and the worst is forever. But I had made a promise to myself when I landed in Indonesia this time around, I want to live to the fullest. 

I loved how Surabaya was chill when I came out of the airport. “Let’s live to the fullest” echoed in my head so I took my AirPods and listened to August. I just wanted to create the most enjoyable and comfortable vibe possible while looking at the drizzles outside. It was the simplest thing that made me excited on my way to my mom’s house. I finally gave her an answer to be here and I couldn’t be more grateful.

From the day I landed, I tried to rush to do those important things way ahead so at least, I won’t be lazy to postpone things till the last minute. I was glad I did a small renovation for a small room in my mom’s house. A room I always stay in every time I’m back. So, “How far with your house?” question that has no answer yet.

I have prepared my mind before I travelled that my time in Indonesia would be 50% of “go outside and find coffees” and another 50% would be “chilling in the house with Korean dramas on Netflix is the best”. It is because I only had like one and a half weeks before Ramadan so I had quite limited time to hang out over coffees.

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This time around I had to postpone on vacation-thing. This year marks the second time I have an opportunity to do fasting with my family in Indonesia after 10 years of working outside the country (please don’t tell me it’s a long time!) so I think it’s a wise decision not to travel during Ramadan (hey I won’t be ably sipping a coffee or dark mocha during the day! and document it). The fact that I only have half of Ramadan in Indonesia, I decided to take my time during the fasting period with my family in the house. Gosh I know it’s going to be a bit hard when the time to fly back is finally here but again, I want to cherish my time here and try to live to the fullest.

One of the funny things I experienced lately is that I prefer to stay in the house after 3 pm. It might sound weird because I used to like to hang out till late back then. I suspect because of age (I know right!) but truly, I feel more relaxed and comfortable being at home after 3 pm. Also, Surabaya starts its rain mostly in the late afternoon so imagine being in the room with TwentyFiveTwentyOne or folklore when the weather is chill.

Do you know the funny part about being away for three years? So many things have changed since I was here before the world pandemic.

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Surabaya looks prettier and tidier. I love the fact that along Tunjungan street, there are so many cute little coffee shops and eateries which in the evening the vibe is inviting.

A best friend of mine Fahmi, has rebuilt his house and I was shocked because it is so much bigger (with a high ceiling!). Before we went for an early breakfast he took me to his newly-renovated house which made me want to slap my own face (I guess I should!). I neglected my house because I am not financially ready yet but again, I won’t let myself look for an excuse not to visit mine just to see how the condition is. Man, Fahmi was invisibly slapped me with “When will you do yours!!” and I always say the same thing to myself, “We have different directions so I am okay.” But till when will I be okay with this? :)

I got a piece of good news from Winda and Ayos that they are expecting their second child days after I landed here! I was so thrilled for them :)

We finally met again after three years over some sushi two days before Ramadan started. I really had a good time with them and Mas Raka until evening with scoops of ice cream. I won’t ask for more when we both had our time and tried as much to meet, sit and share quality time but be grateful.

I also made such a surprising welcome by showing up in front of Mas Andhi’s house as planned. I believe he was flabbergasted :). The day before I, we texted over Instagram DM and he didn’t have an idea we were in the same town. It was all fun keeping my arrival for twelve days in secret and then showing up in the morning when he half awoke :) and spent a whole day in his little cute coffee shop called Tropikal Coffee.

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I am ending this post by counting my days, hiks. Instead of growing the maudlin feeling, I perhaps should look for more food to taste when my fasting ends in the evening and document it :) oh, I managed time to have dinner at the same restaurant where Ruli and I always sat with tenderloin steaks every time I am here :) I felt you were there, Rul.

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