In the past few months, I had tried to sit quietly and start writing again, which all led to multiple failed attempts. It wasn’t even an effort to write something worth posting publicly – just anything in general. Whether it’s in my laptop’s drive that will never see the light of day, or in my phone’s Notes app, let alone this blog. I was always either in the middle of something that required a lot of attention, or was never really in the right mindset to pour my thoughts and heart out even though what I did most of the time were thinking and feeling.
So this is me, attempting once again. In the days leading to Eid Al-Fitr, where naturally my desire to do work has diminished significantly and I probably couldn’t be bothered to catch up with things I know I eventually will do post-Eid, so one of the few things I could do to avoid feeling like a complete trash is to be back writing again. Here’s me sitting down in a rented apartment I just moved into around three weeks ago, still in the heart of the city I have never been a fan of despite all the positive thoughts I’m trying to “delude” myself with i.e., South Jakarta, with my husband.
Julie was most of us. Or perhaps, we were all a Julie once. But most ridiculously for me, Julie is me.
It might be long overdue, but my boyfriend and I finally watched the movie the other night. After five minutes of processing the prologue that somehow felt a little too embarrassingly familiar, he broke the silence by saying, “Why do I have a feeling that this woman is essentially you?”
And he was right. Julie is me – a more reckless version of me, the kind of person I would become if I deliberately let my truest colours shine unabashedly and allow my impulses to redirect my life to all territories I was always too afraid to venture into, and a more satisfied one, perhaps.
From quitting a presumably prestigious program because it did not resonate with what poked her curiosity, deciding that she’s now attracted to how human’s minds responded to all sorts of stimuli, only to end up choosing photography and writing over a well-respected and promising field, also getting scared of not being able to navigate her own steering wheel in her own life that she cut off the stability that felt like gluing her foot to the brake pedal – I could go on and list every single act she did in the movie but the underline was that, I found myself (and a lot of us) in her.
It just so happens that my upbringing of mostly values and principles shared in eastern cultures anchors me and grounds me to never dare myself enough to make split-second decisions as bold as hers. I was taught to always have a degree of self-control to constantly make logical and conscious decisions to suppress my itches and avoid chasing something on a whim, for better or for worse.
It’s fascinating, the things you discover as you age. Things you never necessarily learned from anywhere, nor previously heard of, and yet they somehow come about unabashedly – and that you get to experience them firsthand, which is also the sole reason why you come across them in the first place.
Certain states of mind, emotions, and feelings – they materialize out of sheer serendipity. Sometimes, it’s unannounced. For better or for worse, they may change you inside out. Even if it’s just a temporary surge of happiness, or ache, or anything in between. Even if it dies out immediately. Sometimes they show you things you didn’t know you had the capacity for, or they help you search through the depth and range you’ve been carrying with you the whole time. And that is perhaps all that you ever need out of it.
I don’t know what it is, and I don’t think I have the interest in figuring it out either. Let it be undefined. Let it remain unchallenged. Let it just live. Grow. Nurtured. Linger. Become. There is no need to guard one. It may last, or it may not. Whichever path it chooses to roam over, I am embracing it. It may fail me, or it may enliven me. There is no anticipation or expectation, just leaps of faith in believing its sole intention.
I had this conversation with my boyfriend of eight-and-a-half years the other night.
It was triggered by a random question that a friend got when we played a little game of Q&A by flipping through random pages from What Makes You Tick? The Question Book the night before, when she was having a sleepover at my place. The question was, “Would you want your partner to confess to you if he/she had an affair? Have you come to an agreement about being unfaithful?”
She and I had disagreeing opinions at first, although I guess by the end of it she was swayed by my perspective and decided to also go with my answer. (If you’re curious to know what it was, you’ll have to wait until the nearing end of this post.)
I was then intrigued to ask that to my significant other because only then I realized that in our more than eight years of being together, he and I never really talked about these things. Which perhaps could be a good thing I suppose, considering that the sole reason was that there was never any occasion, i.e., any trigger, which compelled us to have to have a discussion about it.
Nonetheless, as our relationship ages, at some point it becomes important to know where each of us stands on those difficult questions. Because as solid as we hope our longstanding relationship to be, one would never really know what could unfortunately happen in the blink of an eye. And it does no harm to be well-prepared by figuring out each other’s preferences in handling such problems, so that you don’t end up hurting someone thinking that you’re saving them instead.
There’s an alternate reality where I don’t have crippling regrets in my approaching thirty. And it doesn’t involve a story about girlboss’ ambitions, nor daydreams about living in Scandinavia, nor making overdue amends with people who share your blood—not that kind. The premise is about living your early 20s carelessly, pouring your hearts out and accepting love where it might’ve been promised. To let one guard’s down where it felt safe to do so, and to quit building fences out of insecurity and fear of not being able to be vulnerable enough to let anybody in.
I feel bad and ashamed for even inviting those thoughts into my headspace. How did I allow myself to be so beaten over silly summer flings that could’ve been? To even dare to ask myself, have I traded my best years with the comfort of a safety net, that in the end doesn’t even feel so sturdy anymore?
I don’t know if I would’ve been happier or just as desperate. I would perhaps circle back to the same old situation anyway, wondering if I had done enough to allow myself to be happy.
Will I ever find out whether it is stagnation or unpredictability that would bring me more happiness and/or cherishable memories at the end?
I am in a state of paralysis, I guess, and I need any possible kind of force to move me.
My significant other of six and a half years (feels strange to type this, I barely realized this is how long we’ve been together) had his twenty-something birthday yesterday!
The spotlight of this post should probably be on him, but I’m afraid this won’t be the case. If you read this with the intention of hearing a story about A, be prepared to get disappointed. Mainly because in this post, I would talk mostly about some of the past birthday gifts that I’ve crafted for him throughout the years – thus this post is more about my crafting journey than A himself, lol.
Although in the past few years we’ve been getting each other more practical, functional, and long-lasting gifts – mainly because we’re way past the adolescent era where we still had the utmost need for attention, treatment, and so forth, and now we realize we could really use some useful “adult” tools to help each of us get through life – today I’m feeling nostalgic and just feeling like reminiscing the good old days where I would try so hard to shower him with those self-made pretty-pretties excessively.
Those who have known me since at least my undergraduate years may know that I’m a huge fan of DIY, designs, or basically anything that screams arts and crafts. So basically, I’ve been using A‘s birthdays as an excuse to nurture my passion about creating artsy-craftsy handmade knick-knacks – apart from the fact that he deserves the token of appreciation as well, of course. From the classic birthday card, birthday book, birthday lunch decor, and a couple of other things, his birthday has basically been a special occasion for me to experiment with papers and scissors.