Snippets of life, Thoughts

The Joy and Heartbreak of Homecoming

It’s crazy to think just two weeks ago, my weekend looked wildly different.

Saturday afternoon: At my best friend’s wedding in Serpong. Helping her get ready, taking lots of pictures, giving a speech, crying.

Sunday afternoon: On the second leg of my flight, sleeping for almost the entire journey due to lack of sleep the day before.

Monday afternoon: Back at work with meetings, campaign plans, and lots of coffee.

I had very little time to process my feelings then, but I’ve had more time now and I’m trying to write it down.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to experience the avalanche of emotion that hit me on my last day in Indonesia. Three weeks earlier, I packed my suitcase in such a rush, feeling very reluctant to fly to Indonesia despite a wedding that I’d been looking forward to and the promise to meet friends and family. In my mind, I could already imagine the questions and remarks about wedding/kids/starting a family I’d get from nosy women, including some relatives. I also thought of the heat, the crowd, the discomfort, and everything I hated about Jakarta.

Thank heaven I managed to dodge these women and their questions almost entirely (saved for a few that I couldn’t avoid). This vacation was about the wedding and meeting friends and family, and in 19 days, I did just that. I can’t describe how good it felt to meet the people I love so much, to talk and laugh so effortlessly, and to feel like I belonged. To feel at home. In the end, it took me by surprise how much I enjoyed my stay there. I have absolutely no regret in spending the entire time in Jakarta, a city I’ve hated so much. It’s the worst place for me, but my loved ones are there — and they are home.

The last days flew by and everything was a blur. When I left Indonesia for good almost 3 years ago, I was ecstatic to finally get out and move to a place that felt a lot more like home. I hugged my friends goodbye with a tinge of sadness that only lasted until the immigration at Soekarno-Hatta airport. As soon as they stamped my passport, it disappeared completely, replaced by euphoria and relief.

It was different this time. My time was limited, and in that short time, I saw and felt so much love. My friends set aside time to see me when I was in town. My parents dropped everything so they could spend as much time as possible with us (me and my sister who was also in town), and did everything to make sure we got everything on our lists. My best friend, just a few hours after the wedding, begged the staff at a Kopi Kenangan kiosk to let her buy some of the ground coffee, because she noticed I was obsessed with that (I drank it almost every day while I was there). After successfully obtaining it, she then raced to the airport with her new husband to give it to me (and to see me for one last time), inadvertently re-enacting the famous AADC scene.

These only made farewell even harder.

I said goodbye to my brother with sadness and regret that we hadn’t been able to spend more time together. I sobbed when I hugged my best friend, wishing the distance wasn’t this big and the time difference wasn’t a problem. I looked at my parents and wondered when I’d see them again. Like every immigrant, my greatest fear is that if something happens, I can’t be there at a moment’s notice, and that I don’t get to see my loved ones again before it’s too late.

Just before I had to go, I looked at everyone and everything that was familiar, and my heart broke. Walking away this time was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

All I can say is, I get it now. Before, I couldn’t understand why some Indonesians abroad wanted to go back to Indonesia someday because their families were there. I thought, but you could go on vacation and visit them. You could still meet them once in a while.

But I get it now. It’s not enough, and it will never be. Maybe I’m becoming more melancholic as I’m getting older, but the distance feels bigger now and the time together feels increasingly precious, and being so far away is just going to be harder from here on.

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  • Reply ohdearria

    I definitely can feel you and I too have the same feelings every time I go back to Indonesia, Jakarta precisely. I always wish those dearest friends of mine and my family could just move to where I live. It’s just different. After 20 years living in Australia and called Perth as my adopted home now, I still can’t find the same love, friendship and closeness from all my dearest ones back in Jakarta.

    January 27, 2020 at 3:06 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Thank you for sharing Mbak. I definitely feel that too, and no matter how comfortable and at home I feel in Sweden, it’s missing all the love and warmth that I get from my loved ones in Indonesia. I guess this one will never change, and it’s what makes leaving Indonesia hard every time.

      February 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm
      • Reply ohdearria

        Can’t agree more, Dixie!

        February 3, 2020 at 9:53 pm
  • Reply Wati

    Agree. It’s one if the reasons why we decided to build our vacation/retirement house in Indonesia. I love every second of being here, precisely we all love spending time here. You do develop new skills. You answer question without really answer it. Or you just give amount of answer that you exactly want to share. Sometimes I can see that they do not really understand but I just move on and talk about something else.

    January 28, 2020 at 2:08 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      I can understand that. I guess when you have a few places you can call home, building a retirement house in one place really cements the fact that it’s where you feel most at home. I haven’t got to that point yet, and it doesn’t get easier to make a decision.

      February 2, 2020 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply Ditaa


    January 28, 2020 at 6:05 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha


      February 2, 2020 at 1:56 pm

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