Warning: This is a looong post!
It has been two days now since I have moved into my Kost, a room in an Indonesian boarding house/apartment, in the area called Kebon Kacang or ‘Garden Beans’. You have to walk through narrow but surprisingly well-ordered streets that barely allows passage for a car and carries the scents of cooking oil, fried foods, cigarette smoke and the over-ripe scent of garbage carelessly discarded, to get to my little box-room located on the top floor of a moderately tall building behind one of the bigger malls in the city. The air is always full; it hangs heavy with humidity and the ever present smog of pollution from the too-many cars and motorcycles and the old beaten-down buses that travel up and down the well-worn streets of Jakarta. Each day this week as I walked towards work I have wished the sidewalk could be enclosed in a bubble of air-conditioning so that (just once) I can reach the office without looking like I just stepped out of a shower (of sweat). At the same time I am glad for the change of pace – of not having to cringe every time I zip through the morning rush on a motorcycle and then battle the hordes waiting to get on the bus heading towards town. It is refreshing (ironic considering the pollution) to be able to walk down the street in a city not known for its pedestrian walkways.
I have taken to sitting at the table on the common ‘balcony’ (it’s a covered roof/kitchen area) just outside my room every evening and have had the chance to speak to several ‘Kost-dwellers’, some of who have lived there for more than a year, and who I think are more fascinated by the fact that the newcomer is an ‘Indonesian-who-isn’t-really-Indonesian’ rather than anything I have to say. It’s something I have come to find amusing more than anything especially since it happens every other time I meet someone new; although I hate the spotlight it shines on me because of it. Most of them seem friendly enough and willing to talk in (slightly awkward) broken English-Bahasa with me which makes me glad to have people to practice my language skills with. While it may be painful (sometimes) to hear me speak Bahasa, the more I practice the more I hope to sound like the natural speaker I should be.
I know it has only been a few days but deep down I do feel as if this move was the right step for me. I was worried (a little terrified?) about moving out of my (comfort zone and) aunt’s house and I do feel pretty awkward in front of the other ‘Kost-dwellers’ due to my lack of knowledge on how ‘regular Indonesians’ do things but I am also establishing my independence here and I think it is about time. I am still lonely/alone sometimes (although it is something I am used to and don’t mind much) but now I can also step outside my door or give NF a call whenever I feel the need to be sociable. Since my move out to this area NF and I have been hanging out almost every day and as we get on well, have the same tastes and our personalities click, I am so glad for the company. It’s nice to have someone to banter with and talk to about things on the regular (rather than keeping it all inside to stew).
Perhaps the one downside to all of this is that my bad sleeping patterns seem to have flared up all over again. Or maybe it was just that I got used to actually falling asleep easily and without any help (finally!) at my aunt’s house that now I have moved somewhere else my settled pattern has been thrown off-kilter, leaving me to feel more exhausted than usual. It’s a pain constantly drifting in and out of sleep, having nightmares that are a mix of my surroundings and dreams and waking up disoriented at all hours of the night. I am hoping it is just a blip in my sleep radar which will slowly ease back to normal sleeping habits as the month(s) passes and I settle myself more…
On a more emotional (?) note, I have come to realize that I don’t think about him so much anymore. I’m not saying that he’s gone – that’s not it at all – but his larger-than-life presence has receded to the background so that he’s not constantly at the forefront of my mind anymore. It is a relief to realize that I have been thinking of him less lately (at least over the past few days anyway…) though that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him anymore. Unfortunately for me there is still a gnawing ache in my gut that pines for him but I guess that’s also something that will slowly ebb with time. After all, when it comes to matters of the heart we (read as: me) don’t expect miracles to happen anymore. If I allow myself to linger on the thoughts of him I am repeatedly shocked to realize how long its been since we last spoke. 9 weeks today. 9 bloody long weeks since we spoke for the last time (oh deary, getting teary) and it’s hard to push aside how much of a struggle it has been for me. It’s really ridiculous how quickly time flies, isn’t it? It’s his birthday next week and I am working up the courage to message him for it because I can’t be the bitch and ignore him. Besides, we’re supposed to be friends (eventually) right?
Anyway, I guess you could say that the steps I have taken as of late have all been steps forward and not backward no matter that on some days it really feels like I’ve taken a wrong step on an extremely slippery slope. One step at a time is not so bad after all.
2 weeks and 2 days until I make my way home to see my family in Manila – I can’t wait!