Going back to my hometown has always been one of my top priorities ever since I left it seven years ago. If not for staying, than a visit would be just fine, I thought. I’ve never adjusted living in a big city, even more in Jakarta, as I said before in here. I’m never used to go to a mall for refreshing, going in and out of cafe to eat, sitting in the cars for hours just to go someplace. It’s probably the same feeling as big-city kids can’t live without malls, or can’t stand the idea of going for a walk in the forest (literally, where you can find pigs, monkeys, lizards, or even snakes).
Anyway, three weeks ago, I finally got the chance.
It actually came as a wild idea, but when my parents said okay, I booked the ticket straight away and boarded the plane four days later. In those four days, I had my things-to-do list ready. I knew which places I wanted to visit, what dishes I wanted to try, down to every little details.
The first time I stepped on the ground, all I thought was, this place doesn’t change that much. The wet soil smell that I’ve always loved, the orange-slash-pink sunset, the clear blue sky, the scorching sun, the view, every tidbits. Some have changed. The boulevards are now covered in blocks, the store still opens at lunch instead of having one-hour break, the school is now blended instead of parted for national and international students, and some others.
I spent the first few days visiting the old places I used to go: my house, my friends’ house, the school, the sports hall, the playground, the big park called ‘Monkey Field’, the running track called ‘Big Oval’, the bar, etc. I snapped photos here and there, determined to gather as many photos as I could for memento.
Somewhere along my arrival and departure, for a reason I couldn’t pinpoint, I felt something was missing. I’d been dreaming of going back for years, but when I was there, I still wasn’t satisfied. I thought I would be happy to see a glimpse of my past. On the contrary, I was sad. I went to one place after another, and all I could see was a glory that belongs to the past. Somewhere around 2004, I guess. Now, it’s like somebody’s glory, somebody’s home, somebody’s town, in which I can’t fit in. Funny, isn’t it? Feeling like a stranger in your hometown.
Then I realize, that I miss being a part of the town. I miss living in it, falling into routines. I miss living there, not just staying. I want to feel like a resident, not a visitor, not an outsider. I want to stroll around without counting how many days I have left. I want to shop and buy my favorite doughnut without thinking if that is the last time I can have it before I go back to the city. And I miss my school days, going to my friend’s house every weekend, or simply just watching baseball/basketball/soccer match (depends on what league was on) with cheap hotdog and soda.
Still, I’m lucky to be there again, even for a flash. I should have known that it had changed. I might not have a house in there anymore, but people say, home is wherever your heart is. And for that, Batu Hijau is still a home for me.
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.