Three days after arriving back home, still I haven’t unpacked, haven’t gone out, haven’t met anyone, and haven’t done anything productive—apart from replying to some emails that need to be replied, and meeting deadlines. I am that kind of person. After being surrounded by a lot of people or being on the road for a long time, constantly moving and bumping into others—I need my downtime. I need to recharge. I need a break.
I need to pause.
Do you need to be alone to recharge?
I’ve known some friends who can be on the road for what seems like an indefinite period, moving from one city to another every 3-4 days, then coming back home and heading out to see some friends directly from the airport. The next day, they would have had some meetings or meet-ups, attended events, edited pictures, and wrote some articles about their travels, went to the gym, unpacked, plus organized another trip.
I envy them.
I envy people who do not need downtime.
Those who live their lives like an Energizer bunny. They are so energized. So active. So unstoppable. It seems as if they could do so much in the first few days they came back from their traveling journeys, while here I am, still enjoying the feeling of not having to go anywhere or to do anything, savoring the privilege of being alone.
These past few days can be simply summarised into coffee – books – bed – movies – lunch – books – bed – coffee -movies – bed (insert ‘work’ only when really necessary—meaning, deadline is tomorrow).
This is how I recharge. To recover from travel-lag. To readjust the pace and pattern of my day. I live best the way I travel best: slowly.
There are 2 places I would dearly call home.
My real hometown in Bogor, and my adopted little town of Ubud.
Both are easy to navigate because each one is a donut: Bogor with the Botanical Garden to fill in the hole, and Ubud with its Monkey Forest.
Both are small towns (my boyfriend still finds it funny whenever I refer to Bogor, with a million people, as a small town) with access to networks, opportunities, and vibrant creative communities trying to make a difference. Only an hour away from Bogor, there’s Jakarta: the capital of all things shiny—while an hour or two away from Ubud, there’s Sanur and Seminyak: the hubs for any kind of jobs imaginable.
Both hometowns host loving friends and families (I once wrote that home is any place where you’ll be missed, while the boyfriend said that home is wherever your wi-fi connects automatically).
They are both small enough for you to bump into old friends (or exes!) in public events, restaurants, and coffee shops, but big enough should you want to exile yourself in the faraway villages or hide in the mountains. Nature provides plenty of breathing spaces not far from the center, and the arrays of mouth-watering street food deserve no such thing as a diet.
Nevertheless, the silent contentment of being home is simply that: being home.
To wake up on the same bed where you’ve cried yourself to sleep when you’re still an angsty teenager. To be surrounded by your overloaded bookshelves. To have your dog jumps on you because she wants to play. To talk to your Dad about how you’ve managed to float like a starfish in Raja Ampat.
To walk around the house with that old shirt and pants you’ve had since you were 17. To cook whatever you want because the kitchen utensils are all there, waiting to be put into good use. To create new therapeutic ointments with coconut oil and your growing collections of essential oils. To put your clay mask on and compress your eyes with slices of cucumbers.
To start your day with a set of routines you’ve developed throughout the years. To know what everything is for, where everything is stored, and how everything works.
To feel as if you can go anywhere, but at the same time not wanting to go somewhere else.
Probably, as much as it’s a convenient place, home is more of a feeling: about knowing that no matter how far you go, you’ll always find a place to go back to. About remembering your root and who you truly are. About being you when nobody’s noticing. It’s a feeling of knowing that you are free both to leave or to stay.
It’s about that yearning that keeps tugging on your heartstrings when you’re away.
Whatever that yearning is, it’s home.