A year ago today, after flying into the capital from Jogja, and hypersocializing with 20-ish people from all over the country, I tested positive for COVID-19. I might have had the mild version of this Thanos virus that wipes out over 5mio people worldwide, but I certainly felt weak and helpless, isolated at my apartment, not being able to enjoy food and meds sent by good friends, or my body to digest properly. It’s like eating a packed bowl of Gyudon and Ayam Geprek twice a day and still have zero drive to move a finger on your laptop, or trying to reach toilet from your bed (that is 2m away form each other) with dizzy head hurting like an old man.
Not to exaggerate but it was hell. On top of all the worries, I struggled to finance my outpatient medical needs (I had 2 private insurances from work and 1 personal health insurance, none of which helped). Trying to recover at home could cost me around 1/10th of what my friends have spent had I chosen to be at the hospital (with figure hovers around IDR 100mio/person). Keep in mind around the same time I was in the process of waiting to hear back from a lawyer I had already paid for to chase the woman who stole everything I had and my back pushed against the wall to start paying back people’s money already – which was a great deal of mistake. All resulting in me living under the poverty line, needing help from here and there to even get tested as I headed back to normality. Everything about this memory hurts except laughing over seasons of Netflix’s Love Island Australia (this was how bored I was to spend time enjoying this shit).
Two years ago today, I was busy navigating Christmas dinner and luncheon around Canggu’s busy streets and Potato Head and Mexicola and whatever Bali overhyped spots with a vibrant group of MBA candidates from where Steve Jobs went to school. All this while constantly gaslighting my already made life’s decisions, among many things running in my head.
Three years ago today, I was celebrating a tiny, humble Christmas dinner with best friends in Lombok, one of whom, Chalten and I shared this mouth-watering steak with and exchanged our IDR 100k gifts. Among the many circles we have mutual in, this is like the go-to gang we shared dreams with in Lombok. And for unwinding, beach days, and a few others.
4 years ago today, I cooked Soto Ayam and made Gado-gado in the cold, stormy New York to help keep everyone in the family fed. This was a quick 10-day visit before I returned again for my sibling’s wedding. I missed the American white Christmas I was once exposed to for the first time in my life, looking out the windows in the suburban houses with their warm decors with nonstop Christmas playlist. I had two more new white nieces that week. That was……one warm winter.
5 years ago, I was in Mount Nebo, Jordan transiting before reaching Aqaba with our talkative uber driver, uncovering remains of the old church. There were locals preparing for the Christmas that day (though mostly muslims) then headed to to Aqaba to….stay warm with our Turkish coffee. In the Christmas morning, I walked to the nearest church to to observe the interesting service they had when done in full Arabic (it felt like you were attending a Jumat/Friday prayers for Muslims, except it’s about Jesus and everything). Not a lot I can recount on this but the sheer memory of rushing, running out of enough cash, catching the last bus with locals towards Wadi Rum arriving almost midnight. That experience lives in my head rent-free. The unexpected freezing desert at night.
I cannot seem to remember much of what the fucking fuck happened exactly beyond five years back around this Santa season where we feel the strong urge to be new and interesting. My brain would require Facebook or scrolling through archives to trigger the memory. What I clearly remember: I was busy revamping my business plan, pitching, and busy being driven to solve problems, pretending I knew everything (which was a tiring job and not recommended for everyone), while exploring new places on an extremely tight budget, while trying to ace computer science classes, just kidding, I barely reached the bare minimum (too much play outside and had a change of interest after 3 semesters). Everything about school to me felt half-assed and has failed to reflect my strong academic interests. But to give you context, running a way to Emurica and taking another gap year, did not give me the privilege to cut school and continued elsewhere having wasted the two years. The only option left was – to really gtfo.
Oh man just how much I am missing the world, the younger me, the unexpected surprising turns made around every corner of life, the stronger version of me, less about the risk-averse version I am now evolving into. I still do not know when or how I will be able to do everything I had the chance to before, to be reckless, to feel like everything is risk-free, or to think low-key every damage is reversible, or having all the bandwidth to meet new people and understand their stories. However, in retrospective, it was not all that remarkable not having enough money to afford things you wanted or craving a life out of principles shared by online gurus who are mostly about leave everything behind to get a fresh start, which glamorizes the idea of escapism, in a way.
It’ll probably take some more time for me to figure out a way to cure my mild longing of being on the road again and feeling truly connected and brought more alive. For now, everything I do around weekends will suffice. May we all heal in these unprecedented times where we lost one soul after another, figuratively and literally. Today I raise my half-filled glass to all the fighters, combatting battles you’re in in deep silence today, and tomorrow! Know that your support system is watching your every move very closely and are loved. Cheers!