“It was 10 PM when I landed in Jakarta after almost three years. The longest I have ever waited to go back home.”
You know that excitement when you had waited for so long for a thing you wanted to do, you thought your heart would be over the moon but you didn’t. That was exactly how I felt when I reached Dubai for six hours of transit.
I wondered why. I loved being at the massive airport again, I loved to stand in front of the destination board wondering if I someday could fly to those cities I’ve been dreaming for. I loved entering Boeing, I loved the vibe. I did feel that from my first flight, it was just like a dream I could be on the big aeroplane again looking for my seat, since the pandemic, travelling seemed like a diamond.
This time around I had that idea to record my journey through my iPhone. I wanted to have a livelier recorded journey than just some pictures. I was just trying to become a bit selfless by ignoring people around me. You won’t find me being busy with an iPhone recording things on daily basis, I might prefer to live the moment. But since the pandemic, my thought of that was slightly shifted. So from the moment I waited at the passenger lounge in Lagos, till I landed in Jakarta, I recorded some.
During my flight from Lagos to Dubai, I felt a bit excited knowing that I would eat my favourite authentic Indonesian food in the next few days. I felt a bit excited that my mom’s question every time she called me in the past few months would have an answer. I felt a bit excited that I would see my close friends. I felt a bit of these and those, but a thousand bits would be incomplete. I wondered. I wondered why I didn’t feel that “a complete, bold happiness.”
Perhaps before I even flew I already knew my plans in Indonesia would have to be shifted because I mostly would still be working from home during my leave (you might wonder how I feel about this). Perhaps because the plan of two months has to be shared into two, which on one side I felt like “it’s okay.” but on another side, it was a bit hard. I had imagined I wanted to feel the end of Ramadan in Indonesia with my mom and my family, I had imagined even though we do not have that kind of special celebration for a whole day. I even told my mom before I left and before I had a conversation with my employer that I would be home for a short time. She was a bit disappointed and reminded me how long I had been away. Sometimes I feel like, choosing my job over my family isn’t always right. I love what I am doing but since the pandemic, I am trying really hard to keep myself stable, to keep thinking positively about my mom’s health, to keep remembering that time is essential. Or perhaps, my feeling seemed to be down in the dumps knowing that Ruli had gone. I won’t see him picking me up from the airport as he always did. The last one might be the worst I ever felt, mostly when I stared at the clouds and wondered if he was even on the highest cloud smiling.
The fact that Ruli had gone was really hard for me. Even to date, I have no courage to tell you on writing here, to cement my feeling to my best friend for life, how much sudden I have been keeping since the day he passed.
Before I had my plan set last year, when I saw how travelling bit by bit became easier after the vaccine was invented, I told Ruli that I would be going soon. Then, when he was still alive, he told me that he missed me, asking me when would I fly home. We had this place in Surabaya where we always had steak every time I go home. We sat at the same restaurant and talked about our dads, about when would I resign from the job I am currently having and pursue my Master, about where would I be if I could travel again. After we had our meal, I always asked him to wait for a minute. I always stood at the end of the porch looking at the seat where my dad used to enjoy his meal. Little did I know, the way he left so swiftly with no signs, still, giving me that mournful feeling. So deeply.
I completely understand that we can’t force the universe for giving us enough time for everything. When I landed, I tried to leave some of those mournful feelings behind, but instead, I will try to cherish each day I have in Indonesia.
I followed the procedure at the airport on how to get tested after they collected data for my vaccine, PCR test result, and where would I be quarantined. I thought it was going to be a long process that would add to my cracking bones from how many hours I had gone through in the air. Everything was going smoothly till I entered in a hotel room that I picked the day before I flew from Lagos (this was not “me” at all for a last-minute reservation). I did miss that feeling of serenity when you can pause a bit from everything in life and take care of yourself. Having your body on top of a thick clean white blanket, bathing under a warm shower at night, sleep tight, knowing that you have passed so many things you thought were scary and difficult. I felt that when I let myself fall on the bed. I wasn’t sleepy yet even though my body was screaming inside. I thought about what my next journey would be. The pandemic must have taught me to be more present on how to prepare things when I travel. But at the same time, it scares me if something unexpected happens in between. I sat looking through the glass window, thinking I would extend one more night after if I received the result from the Covid test I did at the airport. The good thing about it was that I only needed to be quarantined for one day when I rang the reception the next morning and got a negative result. My mind was rested a bit. The night I sat in the hotel room, my mind was straightly thought to reach Mbak Ririn. She is the one who’s like my older sister from another mother every time I have time in Jakarta, one of the kindest persons I have ever met. I couldn’t help sending her an iPhone picture when the reflection of skyscrapers fell on my window. I kept my journey in secret to my close friends but not to Mbak Ririn. My time is limited in Jakarta and knowing on time if I could or couldn’t meet her again was better. I did expect so much I could see her but I didn’t it was all right. I felt like I should have told her I would be in Jakarta the day I flew from Lagos when I didn’t see any response from the message I sent after midnight.
When she replied we should meet up my heart was full of blossoms. I did realise that if her time and my time didn’t match, we wouldn’t meet yesterday evening.
I couldn’t help feeling so excited when I came out from the lift and saw her standing in the lobby. We hugged so tight, feeling so grateful we could see each other again after the last time she dropped me at the airport thirty-four months ago. I felt so much joy when we finally sat in the car heading for a dinner. I was grateful knowing that she is healthy. I felt grateful I could pause a bit from those things I had in mind about my job, deadlines, and sitting over dinner with Mbak Ririn at a little and cute eatery somewhere at Cikini. We laughed, we shared each other’s stories. Listening to her stories when she travelled to Japan when the pandemic started, how much she loved the food in Kyoto, talking about how her colleague spent only three nights in New York for a conference because of pandemic, about how I felt about losing my best friend Ruli, those warm stories that again, I would store in my memory. I made a promise to cherish as many as I can all the moments I had and will have when I am here. I expected a longer time with Mbak Ririn than talking for an hour plus by the window but I won’t complain at the end. Because I completely understand how life works. When you have that will to see a person, a good friend or a best friend, after a long time, you must understand that it is not that easy for our “time” to work if it is not at the right time. So when you do have the opportunity, cherish it. Try not to expect too much but enjoy every second till the time to say goodbye is in front of you. By then, you will learn that really, something good happens for a reason, at the right time, and you will feel peaceful and sincerely enough.
I never thought I would write a long post like this but perhaps, this is a good sign that I will be freely throwing my feeling again here, on this blog. Let’s see how my short time in Indonesia would be.