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Friends, Through and Through

I think by this point, I’ve made it really clear that I hate Jakarta.

I survive — just barely — because of this munchkin, and also, my friends.

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to meet the best kind of people from all over the world, and I consider myself very lucky to know them, and be friends with them.

When I was away for my master’s, I rarely got homesick. I didn’t miss the food that much (even when I did, I was able to make the altered version that was good enough to satisfy my craving), I didn’t miss ‘home’ at all (‘home’, because it didn’t feel like an actual home, thanks to Jakarta), and I felt completely at ease being far away from ‘home’. Bottom line is, I had no problem living 7000 miles away, on my own.

But there were times when I wished I’d been in Indonesia, and usually, it’s when my friends got together and I only got updates from either WhatsApp or social media. So when I came back to Indonesia, I’ve relished every opportunity of meeting up with them, and by god, how it has helped to keep me going in this damn city.

In the past few weeks, I met up with some old friends, and I’m once again reminded to be grateful to have these people in my life. So here’s the things that are not so bad about living here:

Going to a Mamet’s book launch. I met Mamet (FYI, his real name is Kevin but nobody calls him that) years ago when we were in college, and ever since I found his blog, I’ve been an avid fan. He writes with such wit and brevity, and his eloquence has always left me stunned. A couple of months ago, he published a book!

friends 1The book, Beats Apart, is co-written by him and Alanda Kariza, and it started way back in 2012 as a project in Tumblr. They wrote everyday alternately, him writing the male part and her writing the female part. They’d tried to get it published for some time, but it was hard to find a publisher that was willing to publish the script just as it was, without translating it to Indonesian. This year, they made it, and I couldn’t be more proud!

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My friend giving his autograph. How surreal is that?

And also a reminder for those who haven’t bought the book, you really should. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, and I’m not saying this just because I’m his friend. It really is a great book.

Celebrating Khemal’s birthday. Another friend from college, and a good one! He was working on site on his birthday, so we celebrated it a few days later on lunch time, along with Joydi and Ocha.

The thing about working in oil and gas industry is, there will always be someone who’s not present, working far away, be it in the middle of the sea or land where very little is going on. As a result, meeting up full team is always a challenge. So whenever we’re in the city, we really do try our best to meet up.

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These are the guys who helped me survive my college life (and graduate), and have always been there for whatever things life throw me. It’s been 7 years since we first met, and I’m glad they’re still here, just like the old days.

Meeting childhood friends. I grew up in a little town called Batu Hijau, in the west of Sumbawa island. The school was small (my class only had 6 pupils), and there was no high school so everyone got out of the town once they finished junior high. With us scattered across the country, we knew then that trying to meet up was a long shot. Who knew that 10 years later, it actually happened? (the other one is stuck in Lombok at the moment, so we had to make do with just 5 of us)

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Some things don’t change, like Isaac’s aversion to be photographed, Matthew’s clumsiness, Lilis’ exuberance, and Lidya’s contagious laugh. After 10 years, it’s nice to see that there are things that remain just how you remember they were.

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That afternoon, we spent hours in nostalgia, talking about and laughing at crazy things we did back then, didn’t quite believe it was a long time ago and now we were adults. There was something about them that made me feel we were just hanging out in an empty classroom at school, rather than in a crowded mall on a Saturday afternoon.

We part ways after that, and I felt different that day. Blissful, maybe. The familiarity had sent warmth and contentment for that day, like coming home after a long time, to people who know you and your stories.

‘There’s something about childhood friends that you just can’t replace,’ Lisa Welchel said.

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