24/7: 22

Months have gone by since my birthday this year. But the idea to skip it and just move on with my life without writing a story about how my twenty one went, is just nonsense. If you want to assume this whole thing as a total bullcrap then why not. So much has happened for the past year, which adds to the most memorable so far.

July 24th 2017. I remember it was a sleepless night in Bali. Good music, and oh, how people are so much fun when they're wasted. I slept, though it was more of lack of rather than enough. But I woke up to the most refreshing air. The sun felt a lot warmer and the day couldn't get any better.

A couple of months later I got a text to leave for Tokyo, less than two-week notice. Up to this day I couldn't remember what had driven me to deliver those papers to my university office and apply for an exchange semester abroad. After my trip in 2016, Japan has always been something, but to actually fill in those forms, and write an essay about how I, and not somebody else, is the most suitable candidate for the opportunity, wasn't exactly the kind of thing I would do. But I did, despite the occasional eye-rolls of people around. 

I told the news. My friends were all tears and blues, not to mention my parents and families. At that very moment I realised, how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who actually think my absence matters, and how I was very unaware of that. And that's what it was all about. It hit me: why am I not in doubts? At all?

Living in a city for so long, surrounded by the same people, doing the same thing, going to the same place to buy lunch or simply taking the exact same route to reach home. Jakarta has always been a home where I was born and raised. You have that special bond with the city you live in your whole entire life. It's your home. Until you long for somewhere else.

And it's like the universe play tricks on me that I had to get my visa and house fixed just a couple of days before my departure. Not to mention I had no basic language skill to even ask for a simple help, or directions. But over time I was thinking, I was lucky enough because turns out the Japanesethough they look like they don't give a single care about your beingare the nicest people you can be stuck in translation with. I lost my way to school my first month in Tokyo and found myself contemplating too much at the platform while waiting for the next train.

I started to open up and get to know more people. I was one of those people who have this intense anxiety getting to know someone new, which was why I tend to avoid people and unnecessary conversations. But the thing about being somewhere foreign is the freedom to be someone else. One day someone greeted with me over lunch, we talked and to our surprises we shared the same interests. We became good friends afterwards. Then it occurred to me as for why hadn't I started getting to know more people while in here? So I did. I met a lot of new people from all over the world. I made friends in a month more than I could ever have in a year of being in my hometown. Diversity only make our friendship even more dense, and our talks even more broad. Conversation grows like branches in a tree.

I got asked a lot about my name and my hometown, which makes me repeat the answers for just about a million times. I love it. Even when they pronounced it wrong. Even when they made me repeat every two second because God-knows-how-many new people they have encountered in this city. Even when they laughed at me because apparently they have my name in their own languageAlita is for 'little wing' in Spanish. Then they started to ask me about my hobbies and interests, the kind of music I like, the kind of whatever I like. I didn't know what to respond, initially. 'Do I like pop music? Have I always been into sweet or savory food? Photography or fashion? Is it writing? Or do I just love to chatter about my life in order to make myself feel better?'

I live alone in a house in Tokyo. The thought of living by yourself in a foreign city which language you don't speak, with very minimal preliminaries beforehand might sound like a nightmare to you. Can't say it was hard at first, but saying it was easy was an overstatement, either. Of course I needed time to adjust with the environment. Without having anybody around telling you what to do, you got to know yourself better. You start choosing for yourselves, and accept all the consequences of your own decisions. You stopped needing that one person to consult everything with. Therefore living alone is like constantly having a conversation with yourself. And it's up to you whether to agree or not with your own statement like, 'Oh, what do I want for breakfast today? Do I have enough time to make a toast? Nah, I should rush for the train. Gotta stop at the groceries before going home since eating out is expensive. Also I think I should cut off coffee for the week because it has been breaking into my bank account'. That kind of thing.

One of my favorite thing was the poetry class I took in my exchange semester. It has been showering my autumn and winter days with the most beautiful words. I sat on my train reading poems, walked through parks with my poems, drank my coffee at kissaten (Japanese for coffee shops) also with my poems. People might have thought about how much art I have in me for having TS Eliot or Walt Whitman copies in my hands, and on my notes, the whole time. Truth is their language is next-level English and my vocabularies don't compare to anything, really. So every time the class finally discussed the poem, it came like a huge revelation to menot even exaggerating. I'm in love with words, and so the their writings have inspired me to write even more.

The opportunity for me to visit places also adds to my photography obsession. Going to different cities you start noticing how differently people walk, or talk, or dress. Capturing it through my lens has been one of my favorite thing to do. Most of the time I was with my Agnija, of course. But in early Tokyo days I also bought a vintage polaroid camera, impulsively, when walking around Loft Shibuya. I have never had an instant camera before so I thought why not buy something unlike the ones people have. I sticked the results inside a book, along with photobooths pictures, and tickets etc. I started making...a scrapbook. Because why not. Also since polaroid films are hella expensive, I started to capture things that really matters. Or really cute. Hahah!

When I come to think about it, the year of 21 was also very special because I visited a lot of cities this year; some I have been, some I have never been, even some I have never even heard before my whole life. Starting from Bali. Then Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Miyagi, Yamagata, back to Tokyo for farewell, then off to hometown Jakarta, then Bandung for short, Melbourne, Sydney, Jogja for short, Kyoto and Osaka once again, Nara and Kanazawa (the two parts of Japan I've been dreaming to visit!), then end the trip in my beloved hustle bustle Tokyo (where I celebrated 24/7 this year!) before going back home and finish my last semester of study.

Oh yes, I have just one more semester to end my study before being a free bird then continue to see places and write stories.

So I guess... 頑張って?


1 comment:

  1. Amazing and lovely photos!



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