Your flight delayed is nothing new if you live in Indonesia. Even though recently one of our airport earn appreciation as the most punctual airport in South East Asia (beating Changi Airport, can you believe that?), delay is inevitable. I was supposed to get on the plane 45 minutes ago and yet still no sign from the airline for our boarding time.
“We are very apologize for the inconvenience, the flight will most likely ready to board the passenger in an hour.” said the announcement. I hear groan everywhere in the waiting room. “Susan. My flight is delayed, again. You don’t have to pick me up at the airport, I’ll take the taxi by myself” “Angela, I told you not to book a flight with this airline! It has been delayed for 45 minutes and more, now I’m going to be very late!” “Tony, can you please reschedule the meeting to tomorrow? My flight is delayed, I don’t think I could make it there on time.” Suddenly the room fill with the air of frustration, impatience. But I don’t mind. Unexpectedly, I actually enjoyed being delayed to leave Jakarta.
What can I say about this city? I wasn’t born here, wasn’t actually growing up here either but I do spend my adult life in this city, the capital city of my country. Growing up moving here and there once in every 3-5 years, I couldn’t remember most of my childhood. We moved here 11 years ago, and decided Jakarta would be our place to grow old. At least until now.
I know some people think that love at first sight is bullshit, but that’s how I feel about Jakarta. When you spend your time moving here and there, not settling, the idea of finally having a place you can call home is comforting. That you know, you’d still wake up there every morning, feel the same air, and expect the same thing every day. It might sounds boring but not for me. I did not know this before, but apparently I like the idea of settling down.
But everything has its expiration date. After 10 years, things start to fell apart. Everything I love about this city start to bite me in the ass. Maybe that is why people said living in Jakarta is like having a relationship with abusive lover; it kills you to stay with them but kills you more if you leave.
I’m no longer enjoy walking around the city; things I used to be so fond of for years. Everything getting too expensive; impossible to live here with my current salary. There are many new places opening, but none of them are attractive to me; they all sale the same thing: Instagram friendly interior and shitty food. Every morning, I keep waking up with grudge and crankiness, wishing I was somewhere else.
Which is weird that when the opportunity arise, I was hesitate.
It was about 6 months ago, when my boss called and said they would move me to our branch in Hong Kong. I’d still be in the same position as I am now, but with better salary. And a chance to start a new life in a new city, new country. It was a privilege indeed, and I feel like my wish to leave this god-awful city has been granted. But I told my boss that I need to think this through. “3 months,” he said. I have three months to think about it.
God. It’s true what they say, be careful what you wish for.
“You keep whining about how terrible your life is in Jakarta. That you really want to live somewhere else. Now you have the opportunity to leave, and you scared?” said Sharon, my best friend. We were having beer in my pub; one of many of my ‘den’ in this city. It was quiet that night, only few regular sitting in. I didn’t respond to that, and start scraping the label on my Bintang instead. A habit that I used to do when I feel stressed out. “Look, I know what it is. You are scared. You’ve been in this city long enough that you are comfortable with it and afraid of starting your life in a new place. But what’s the point of staying in something that doesn’t make you happy anymore?” she continued. I shrugged, taking another sip of my beer. “If you can’t be with the one you love, would you settle for the one who loves you?” I ask her. “What the fuck does that have to do with you moving to a new country?” she laughed.
I love this city, but it doesn’t love me anymore. No matter what I do, we wouldn’t get along well. We are tired of each other, but I couldn’t just leave it. It is true what Sharon said, I am afraid. But rather than afraid of moving to a new place, I am more afraid of leaving Jakarta. My relationship with this city has been sickening lately, but what if it could get better? What if I could give it another chance, I probably would love it even more. Maybe there is something that I haven’t done yet to make me feel happier in this city, and I just don’t want to leave without fighting for it.
“There is a limit of fighting for something, you know. Sometime the answer is just to leave,” she said. “I am very sad to know that you are not going to be in this city anymore, but I just want you to be happy. I feel sorry seeing you waking up miserably and crying yourself to sleep every night. You need to give yourself a chance, with something new,”
“Everyone brave is forgiven, said Chris Cleave,” I murmured. “There you go,” she raised her glass.
Jakarta is everything I know in my whole adult life. I know where I can get my favourite food, a park where I can just sit and enjoy the world, a friendly pub to wind up after a long day…and most importantly, this city hold an abundance of memories that I can never forget. I can’t count how many new experience I had in this city, whether it’s good or bad. They tied me to Jakarta, I couldn’t just leave it like that.
In short, loving Jakarta is very easy. But staying in love with it, is not.
I believe we only got one chance of meeting our soulmate, and I believe I’ve met one: it’s Jakarta. What if I cannot find the same thing that I love about this city in the new place?
“That is the good thing about moving to a new place: you get a fresh start. You’ve learned a lot in Jakarta, the good and the bad, maybe that is what the city is for you; a place to learn. It’s not for you to settling down, it’s to prepare you for a greater journey,” Sharon conclude. I don’t have anything to respond to that.
And here I am, 6 months later, in the airport to my new home. I started doing my farewell to my family and friends since a month ago and I didn’t feel sad at all. I drink for the last time in my pub last night and didn’t feel anything. It just hits me now.
That I won’t be coming back here to Jakarta, at least for quite a long time. That I won’t be able to snuggle in its comfort anymore, to have another unexpected adventure that has been filling my days in this city since 11 years ago. That I, finally, moving on. And like Sharon said, a greater journey awaits me. I thought I’d move on with happy smile on my face; but it appears to be that getting what you want can be heartbreaking too.
“Good afternoon passengers. This is the pre-boarding announcement for flight 89B to Hong Kong. We are now inviting those passengers with small children, and any passengers requiring special assistance, to begin boarding at this time. Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Regular boarding will begin in approximately ten minutes time, thank you.”
I wipe the tears off of my face, and walk to the boarding gate. Thank you for the memories, Jakarta. Good bye.
*Fiction. Some people might understand that ‘Jakarta’ is a metaphor for something else.