Coming Home

There was a time, one day I was roaming Singapore alone when I felt it, that feeling that I was kind of expecting to feel at some point during the trip.

I want to go home.

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It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying my trip. I did, and I loved being where I am, and knowing that there’s a 50% possibility of me getting lost somewhere. It was even more exciting because I had no internet while I was roaming around, so I relied on good old-fashioned maps and my good sense of direction (that only surfaces when I’m alone). I liked it, and even if my legs were screaming from all the walking, it was fun to go around, go in stores, enter streets where you have no idea where it goes. I loved watching people in the train and in the bus, marveling at the fact that other than the friends I lived with while I was in Singapore, I was in a place where I don’t know anyone, and no one knows me.

I’m going to echo what a friend wrote about the same feeling, because her words captured it beautifully (and because she wrote it while she’s in the city I’ve always dreamed of going):

In New York, I am not needed. I have no expectations. I can be anyone. I can do anything. I am not rooted to the earth. I am absolutely free.

JD Salinger wrote: “I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”

That’s who I am in New York — a speck in the center of the universe. And it feels good to be here, to listen to the heartbeat of a new metropolis, to sit by the pulse of a different landscape, to dream new dreams, to see new things, to be alive in a continent that isn’t my own.

I am happy, so happy, to be invisible. It gives me what I was looking for. It gives me a chance, quoting Sara Bareilles, to show you how big my brave is.

But I’m going to be honest:

I miss home.

That’s me after I have been in a place for just three days. I don’t know if it’s pathetic or crazy or just…well, real. Perhaps it’s all. I always tend to go homesick the closer I get to the day when I have to go home. When I was in Europe two years ago, I started calling my family on my last day there. Never mind the phone bill I got after that call — I was just so, so excited to go home, even if I loved Europe and wished I could have stayed longer.  In the same way, I loved Singapore and I loved being there and I loved seeing my friends and I loved being alone…but at the same time, I know that I don’t really belong there. I guess I’ve always been just a homebody. I like traveling and seeing new places and staying out with friends and all that, but at the end of the day, I think my heart really just knows the truth: there’s really no place like home.

* * *

I took a window seat on the plane on the way home. I take aisle seats most of the time for the sole purpose of convenience (except when I’m traveling with friends), but this time, I took the window seat because of one thing: I want to see home.

Image source
Image source

As the pilot announced our descent, I looked out the window and watched the city lights. They were tiny from where I sat, but they were bright. They weren’t as impressive compared to other cities, but I don’t care. This is mine, this is home. Allow me to use Coldplay to describe that moment, as I stared and watched as the lights grew brighter and the cars bigger, as I strained to identify the places and roads from my seat on the plane: Lights will guide you home. Yes, my trip was fun, and I needed it…but I still think that the best part of any trip is coming home.

Literally, and figuratively: it is so, so good to be home. :)

Exciting-Scary Things

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I am sitting at the airport as I write this, with exactly 40 minutes until I board the plane. I am off to see Singapore, not for the first time. I mean, it’s not the first time I’m going to that country, because I was there six years ago, but it is the first time I’m actually off to another country alone.

It’s exciting and scary, and I can’t stop feeling the little butterflies in my stomach when I think of the possibilities that await me in this adventure.

It’s not that I will be completely alone there. I’m meeting some friends, who had gladly agreed to host me while I was there. We’re off to do some things tomorrow, and I’m excited and scared. Excited to see them, and see the new places, and scared, because this is new, and I am not from there, and I don’t know. It’s just all so new.

I sit here, and think of how this trip feels so significant. A couple of months ago, I remember how I sat at home and watched the clock, waiting. I remember the blankness of everything, the fear, and how I feel like I am about to jump off a cliff, with no guarantee of ever landing safely. It was crazy and scary and sad and amazing all at the same time. My life had changed from that, and I try to remember how I was back then, just a couple of months ago, and I smile.

I do that often now. I look back, and try to see how I was then to how I am now. I look back, and I tell myself, Look where you were before, and Look where you are now. It doesn’t seem too long, but it feels that way sometimes, and I smile, because I never knew. And I think the not knowing makes it even more interesting.

But I don’t look back for too long. I look back, I smile and then I look forward again. Always, always moving forward. Because it’s the only way to go. :)

I sit here, alone, but I won’t be alone for long. I sit here, and look around, listen to the people, and write. I sit here, and I am thankful, because I never thought I’d be here. I’m excited and scared, and it’s okay. Because if there’s one thing I learned in the past 9 months of this year of the brave, it’s that the best things happen when you choose to do things even if they’re scary. It makes the exciting part a little more exciting when you do things even if you’re scared. Right?

My backpack is broken. I bought this backpack for traveling purposes, but I put too much stuff in today, and I thought it was strong enough to carry the load. Apparently, it’s not. I saw the strap is about to break before I bought food, and now that I’m sitting here, waiting for boarding, I see this hole at the bottom, torn from the load of the stuff inside the bag.

Oh well.

I could curse at the hassle or just laugh about it and chalk it up as a part of this adventure. I choose the latter. What else can I do anyway? :) I’m going to trust that the bag will hold itself until I get to my destination. (Please Lord.)

There is too much drama in this post, I know, but I feel like there should be one drama post for the first time someone travels alone. So here. :) I’ll see you all when I get back. Or when I find time to write while I’m there. Pray for our safe flight? :)

Terimah kasih, Jakarta!

When our hosts in Jakarta asked us about what we expected about the place and what we wanted to do, I had no idea what to answer. Not just because I’m not a fan of expectations, but it’s really because I had none. Other than this being a surprise trip, I didn’t really do much research about it. I didn’t have time to do research, actually, plus even if I am good with organizing things, I’m not that good with fixing itineraries just yet.

So I really, really had no expectations whatsoever. And it turned out to be a really, really awesome thing. :)

Jakarta was nice and warm and lovely. That’s what I say when people ask me about my trip. It really is, and of course, the people I met while I was there really helped seal that impression. Jakarta reminded me of Manila in several ways, but it’s bigger, cleaner and interestingly, had more traffic. But that was because they have no train system (boo-hoo, and I like trains), so there’s really just more cars on the road.

It was a very lovely trip — full with activities and food and laughter and new friends. It’s nice to go on a trip with very little expectations because you get so surprised about so many things along the way.1 :)

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  1. Come to think of it, this applies to everything in my life. []