Several instances (and incidents) in my life have forced me to embrace ‘minimalism.’

When I was little, and my mother and I were still living with my mother’s parents, late at night, in bed, my mother would whisper about her dreams of leaving this house, her parents, our whole family.

“What if we could move somewhere else and start a new life where nobody knows us?” she asked. “We’ll rent a small house. But because the house is tiny, we may only have a kitchen, a bathroom, a table, and a bed. You see, we can’t take everything we have to the new house. If you want to come with me, you can only pack things that you can fit into your school bag. Okay? Think carefully about what you are going to carry with you.”

As a child of eight or nine years old, it sounded like an adventure.

In my mind, all day long, I packed and unpacked my school bag with all the things I would want to carry with me (mostly my favorite novels, pens, and some stationery items). Around the house, I noticed more and more things I wouldn’t mind leaving behind. Every day, I was preparing myself for the night when my mother would tell me that this was the night when we were going to start a new life.

I have rehearsed the ‘fitting-your-life-into-a-backpack’ scenario my whole life.

Around twenty years later, when my mother passed away while I was abroad, I came home two days later realizing that sorting out ‘sentimental things’ that once belonged to hers wasn’t exactly a problem. Upon hearing about my mother’s death, some of my aunts came over almost immediately and took away most of my mother’s belongings they deemed valuable.

My father managed to save a set of jewelry he gave my mother on their wedding day, a gold ring, and my mother’s recipe books that he handed to me. That was when I realized that I didn’t need a lot of things to remember a loved one.

During a 6-month trip to the remotest places in Indonesia on a work assignment, when I had to be constantly on the road and moving from airplanes to cars to motorbikes to boats, I somehow lost my external hard disk. It contained everything I had backed up for the last five years, from past works and portfolios to travel photos and unfinished novels. I learned to let go and move on.

When there was water leakage in my family house (that we didn’t know until it was too late), around 70% of everything I stored in my wardrobe had been ruined by fungus and moths. A few months went by, and I realized that I didn’t need to replace most of them.

When I got married and needed to divide my time between my family house in Bogor, our house in Amsterdam, our second base in Ubud, and my husband’s hometown in Albiate, I got better at fitting all my life into a suitcase: a combination of stuff that would still allow me to work and have fun doing what I love for the next three or four months, from wherever I am.

These instances (and incidents) taught me that things do perish. They can get lost, ruined, or stolen. I know that I can survive and live a good life without the things I have lost or the things I never have. I have learned not to attach too much value to the things I own (or even the people in my life). I don’t open my heart (or purse) to things or people without first reminding myself that I may lose them at any point in my life.

***

I don’t like calling myself a minimalist (partly because I don’t feel like one, yet, and partly because of what most people may assume when they hear the word), but I’d like to say that I am embracing minimalism and being more mindful with my consumption.

In their blog, ‘The Minimalists’ Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus explained their view on minimalism:

At first glance, people might think the point of minimalism is only to get rid of material possessions: Eliminating. Jettisoning. Extracting. Detaching. Decluttering. Paring down. Letting go. But that’s a mistake. True, removing the excess is an important part of the recipe—but it’s just one ingredient. If we’re concerned solely with the stuff, we’re missing the larger point. Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. We focus on making room for more: more time, more peace, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom. Clearing the clutter frees up the space. Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which aren’t things at all.

The Minimalist

***

This month, Mirha invited me to join in as a guest at The Knitting Club—where we talked about the book Essential: Essays by The Minimalists. I wrote down some of my takeouts and thoughts below:

1. KNOW OUR WHY

It is essential to know why we’d like to be minimalists or to embrace minimalism. Is it because we feel suffocated living in a house that is so full of things? Is it because we spend so much money buying things we do not need? Is it because we want to save more money? Is it because we realize that we have five scissors in the house?

I think, first and foremost, we need to be clear about what doesn’t feel right in our lives:

  • What feels excessive and unnecessary?
  • What feels like a burden (physically, emotionally, financially)?
  • What are some of the problems I am facing?

Then, ask ourselves if minimalism can be the answer—or part of the answer—and how. Because minimalism is not a magic pill. It may not be the answer to our problems, and that is okay, too. We just need to know what we need at a particular time and honor that.

In that case, before even decluttering our wardrobe or throwing away stuff, always ask ourselves several times: why am I doing this? How will it help me to do more of the things I want to do and be more of the person I want to be?

2. IT’S A PERSONAL JOURNEY

Some people may feel happy, content, and productive by being a maximalist, so who are we to tell them otherwise?

Minimalism is a personal journey, and it can look different for everyone. It’s not about comparing how little we spend, how empty is our wardrobe, and how small is our house. If minimalism solves some of our problems and can help us to live a better life, that’s great. But if someone we know is a maximalist, or doesn’t feel like minimalism can be beneficial for them, let’s also honor that.

Embracing minimalism doesn’t make us better or less than. It’s our personal journey and our personal choice. If people are attracted to how we live and would like to seek some advice or perspective, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay, too.

3. ON MINDFUL CONSUMPTION

I believe that it’s not about not consuming at all, but more about consuming with purpose (why do I want/need this), purchasing pre-loved items instead of new ones when possible, or even consuming without regret and with so much gratefulness (I am so happy with this purchase, it’s something I will cherish all my life!).

On another note, although we may feel like we have stopped buying things compulsively, or don’t go on a shopping spree during Black Friday, I think we also need to check if we are consuming less material things to consume more immaterial things (which is something I am still struggling with). Basically, it’s like replacing one addiction with another.

Here’s a question for reflection: What am I still consuming excessively and why?

For instance, I am still consuming a lot of entertainment (movies, social media, books) and education (online courses, workshops, talks, self-help books). Although it can seem harmless (what’s wrong with educating yourself?), I realized that this obsessive tendency to keep on learning and deepening my knowledge on certain topics has to do with my self-esteem. I feel like I am not good enough or I don’t know enough, so I need to learn more before I can do, create, or share anything.

So, even though we have gotten rid of the material things and bought fewer things, we may still ‘hoard’ other things: memories, feelings, skills, knowledge, money, sermons, unrealized plans… as we discussed earlier, well, it’s a journey. A long journey. For me, this month, I start asking myself how much time I spent consuming and how much time I spent creating/sharing—just to see if I can be more mindful with that.

4. THE IMPORTANCE OF UNLEARNING

Which brought me to the next important takeout: unlearning.

Most of us associate learning with self-development, self-improvement, or even life/career progression. We feel like the path of learning is the right path to take on whenever we feel stuck in life. Probably it’s because we’re so used to it. Most of the time, we are judged or evaluated based on what we’ve learned.

As children, we are praised when we learn something new, or master a new skill.

As adults, in a professional setting, we are encouraged to keep learning and improve our knowledge. During our performance evaluation, for instance, our supervisor may ask something like, “What have you learned this year? What have you learned in this role or on this particular project? Have you learned something new about our industry?”

Sure, learning does hold such an important role in our self-development, self-improvement, or life/career progression. However, what if it is not the only path to get there? What if the path of unlearning is underrated? What are things we have been taught and internalized that actually work against us, or no longer serve us? 

That habit of procrastinating.
That perfectionism.
That belief that we’re not good enough.
That saying that money is the root of all evil.
That tendency to judge people, to assume the worst, to be so hard on ourselves.
That conditioning of attaching our self-worth with our career or financial status.

What are the things we need to unlearn to live a better life and become a better person?

5. FINDING THE SWEET SPOT

Initially, we may want to embrace minimalism because we believe that it will make our lives better; that it will make us a better person. I think that is why it’s essential to ask ourselves THE WHY before embracing the journey. 

Why do I want to do this and how will it make my life better? How may it improve my relationship with friends and families? How can it allow me to live a more meaningful life?

The answer, I think, can serve as a compass to help us navigate our minimalism journey and find the sweet spot when we interact with other people in our lives who may have different beliefs or perspectives.

For instance, at this time of the year, with Christmas and New Year approaching, we’re entering the season of gift-giving. It has become such a cherished tradition in most families that it may cause a dramatic stir when we said we don’t want to give or receive gifts due to being minimalists.

I think in such a case, it’s important to find the sweet spot by asking ourselves, “Is this battle worth fighting? Will winning this battle make my life better, happier, and more meaningful? Will winning this battle improve my relationship with the people around me? Is there another option here?”

When our friends or families insist and it feels too harsh to stop gift-giving altogether, we can tell them the things we would appreciate receiving (“Can you donate to this cause under my name?”) and we can also ask them the things they would love to receive in return. We can ask them to create a wish list—to make sure that we are gifting them the things they have always wanted. We can gift an experience we know they’d enjoy—like an hour at the spa, or a half-day wine tasting. We can also bring them some food they have always wanted to try, or a bottle of wine if they love a good one.

During those instances when someone happens to gift me things I don’t need or like, I remind myself that this gift comes with love and good intention—so I thank both the person and the intention, knowing that I can always donate or offer it to people who may want, need, or like it.

***

Here are a few journaling prompts if you’re considering embracing minimalism:

  1. Which part of minimalism looks interesting/attractive to me?
  2. Why do I want to embrace minimalism?
  3. How do I think it will help solve my problems or help me live a better, more meaningful life?
  4. What feels excessive in my life at the moment?
  5. What are some of the things in my possessions that I feel so strongly attached to? Why? What does it represent? What if I lose those things one day?
  6. What are some of the material things I want to have? (you can create a list of things)
  7. How would I feel if I have those things right now?
  8. How would my life be better or more meaningful by having those things? Which problems will those things solve?
  9. How would my daily life look like if I already have those things? What would I do throughout my day?
  10. Can I actually do some of those things right now even without having/possessing those material things?
  11. What are three of the most beautiful memories or meaningful experiences in my life? Why are these moments beautiful or meaningful to me?
  12. What do I want to do less, feel less, hear less, see less, talk about less?
  13. What do I want to do more, feel more, hear more, see more, talk about more?
  14. What are the three adjectives I would choose to describe my ideal life, a life I aspire to live/experience?
  15. If I need to pack my life into a suitcase and I have to live out of that suitcase for one year, what will I carry with me?
 
What’s your take on minimalism? Are you embracing minimalism in your life? What are some of the challenges you’ve been facing? Do you have some lessons about embracing minimalism that you can share?
hanny
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Naturally, I don’t like workouts.

Maybe because there’s the word ‘work’ in it—that makes it feel like another thing I need to tick off from my to-do list; a chore; a responsibility. However, I enjoy movement, and I feel the need to move my body every single day. To me, it’s about ‘celebrating what my body can do’ (I read this somewhere, and it really encapsulates how I feel).

There are some weeks when I am diligently roll out my yoga mat late in the afternoon or following some strength training and boxing workouts on YouTube. There are some weekends when I go into the natural parks and have a 12-kilometre hike. But there are also many days when I just feel too tired, too heavy, or too sad to do such things.

However, I am trying to make movement a part of my daily life, and one way to do so is by incorporating mindfulness practice into it.

Let’s call it mindful movement.

Listening to my body

I know when I need to move because my body tells me so. When I wake up in the morning with a stiff shoulder. When I go about my days feeling lethargic. When I have spent 2 hours in front of the computer.

I think our body communicates with us every time. The urge to stretch your arms or legs after a long working day, for instance. I realised that if I listen to my body more, and do check-ins from time to time throughout the day, I can hear when it needs me to move. It could be to just stand up and do a stretch, to walk around the house picking up dirty laundry or to do some quick jumps in place to increase my heart rate. 

Finding what feels good

When I feel angry or agitated that I wish I could punch something, I will do some boxing exercises and channel my emotions through a 15-minute session of kicking and punching the air. When I feel solemn or cosy, I will go for a qi gong practice. When I feel good and energized, I’ll go for strength training. When I feel tired, I will go for a comforting and calming yin yoga session. When I feel like my head is full, I will go for a walk in the park or go swimming. When I feel sad and blue, I will put my wireless headphone on, turn on some of my favourite dance music, and do a silent disco in my room.

I find it important to find the right movement that corresponds to how I feel, my state of being, and my energy level.

When nothing feels good, I check if I am lacking nutrients. I take supplements sometimes, like B-12 vitamins and magnesium. When needed, you can check how you feel and shop for supplements to fulfil the nutrients you’re lacking.

Doing it my way

I know I’m not the kind of person who would commit to one type of exercise for a long time. I like to change things up a bit. I like to experiment. I know I like to exercise mostly alone or with the people I feel close to. I don’t find it comfortable to exercise surrounded by strangers. I don’t like it when someone shouts at me to ‘lift up my spirit’. I don’t enjoy competitiveness. I don’t like gyms with loud thumping and pumping music.

Knowing what I like or don’t like enables me to find the movement and exercise that works for me. I don’t need to be stressed out by doing exercises I don’t like in an environment that stresses me out.

Being aware of the present

I like to do my mindful movement in silence, without talking to anyone or watching something on Netflix. When I am walking outside, it’s nice to just walk and feel the ground beneath my feet, noticing the plants and wildflowers along the way, the smell of decaying woods, the chirping of the birds. When I am dancing, I just dance, feeling the beat of the music and move accordingly. When I swim, I just swim back and forth, feeling the way my body moves, that magical buoyance, the way the sunlight makes the lapping water sparkle, the faint smell of chlorine…

To me, it’s about being present with my body, with my movement, and my surroundings, to the point that I don’t really know what I’m doing anymore, I don’t think, I don’t command my body to do something… my body just moves, and my mind is still. Maybe it happens for only 2-3 minutes during the exercise—but that is enough time to feel the ‘euphoria’ of what I guess people often referred to as a “runner’s high”: when my mind is completely still and I feel like I am not moving, but I am the movement itself.

How about you? What’s your version of mindful movement?

hanny
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I recently have this fear: I would not have enough time to read all the books I want to read.

Every time I glance at the pile of to-be-read books on my shelf, I feel overwhelmed. Soon, there will be new books: new releases praised by BookTubers or shortlisted by Vulture or Esquire, new translations recommended by indie booksellers like POST or published by Marjin Kiri or Penerbit Haru.

How can I keep up?

And still, every time I go out, I browse the little free libraries around the city (most often the one at the corner, across the canal), hunting for surprises. Amsterdam had gifted me some excellent titles these past few months: Judy Blume’s In The Unlikely Event, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, Brady Udall’s The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint (which gave me Sherman Alexie’s vibe), and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park among others.

From time to time, I visit Scheltema’s web-listing of second-hand books (despite struggling with their website’s not-so-friendly UI/UX), trying to find out if someone has sold some of the books on my wish list.

I am still finding myself coming home to tiny bookshops or climbing the stairs of 5-storey bookstores when I have no idea where else to go. The sight of those shelves comforts me. The words hidden inside rows and rows of closed books promise me another story, another world, another reality.

When I was little, I lived vicariously through the books I read, mostly Enid Blyton’s and Hitchcock’s. When I read a novel, I was a student in a British boarding school; I had a summer picnic and stumbled upon mysteries to solve; I played lacrosse; I had new neighbours with tree houses; I was a girl with five siblings.

I could be anyone I wasn’t.
I could be anyone I’d like to be.

Over ten years ago, a friend of mine said that he wrote like crazy because he was afraid that one day, he couldn’t write anymore. At the moment, I couldn’t understand the sentiment, but as I grow older, I realized that I feel this way when it comes to reading.

The clock is ticking. I only have so much time, while there are still so many books I want to read. I can feel myself getting anxious when I think of how, for sure, I won’t be able to catch up.

I have a book-FOMO.
And I guess I’ll just have to live with it.

hanny
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I published this essay on this blog a few years ago. Today, I am republishing the revised version of this essay, edited by Jen Campbell.

Whenever it’s raining outside, my mind always goes to a bowl of instant noodles. A steaming plate of comfort topped with egg and fried shallots, drenched in my favorite savory soup, such as Chicken Curry or Special Chicken flavor, which I loved as a little girl.

Of course, these days various instant noodle brands have come up with all kinds of flavors I never could have imagined. But, like with most things, nothing beats the classics.

I guess it’s all about how the signature taste transports you back to the old days from the very first sip: to feast on memories; to slurp a piece of nostalgia; to savor a feeling of going back in time.

***

There was a period in my life when Mother and I moved in with my mother’s parents. Every evening, after the call for Maghrib prayer, Grandmother would disappear into the kitchen and prepare a bowl of instant noodles for Grandfather.

Grandfather always opted for the Chicken Curry flavor—and he wanted the noodles to be extra soft instead of al dente. His should be topped with egg, fried shallots, boiled choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), and a tablespoon of sweet soy sauce, all served—steaming—inside a white Chinese bowl with a red rooster painted on it.

Grandfather always had his bowls of instant noodles exactly like that, every single evening, at the same time. He would be having it in front of the TV in the living room, while watching the evening news or a soccer match. Before bringing the spoon to his mouth, whenever I was around, he always asked the exact same question: “You want this? This is delicious. You want this?”

I would shake my head and watch him in amusement as he savored his instant noodles with gusto, slurping the soup noisily. Seeing him made me believe that here, right in front of me, sat an old man who was having the best meal of his life. Sometimes, long after Grandfather finished his meal, a splinter of boiled egg yolk sat stuck in his white beard.

When (on very rare occasions) Grandmother made me a bowl of instant noodles, she would prepare it the way she prepared it for Grandfather. I didn’t like the bitter choy sum back then, but I liked the way the too-soft noodles made the soup seem way thicker, the way they absorbed the full flavor from the seasonings.

Grandmother continued to prepare a bowl of instant noodles for Grandfather every single evening, until one day she fell sick. She passed away a month later.

After Grandmother’s death, Grandfather still had his bowl of instant noodles every evening—only now, they were prepared by my mother. She took great care to emulate Grandmother’s noodles.

Grandfather would have his meal as usual, but he no longer asked me whether I’d like to have the noodles, too, and I suddenly lost interest in watching him finish his dinner. Maybe I was bored. Maybe I was simply growing up. Maybe the sight of Grandfather eating his instant noodles had stopped to excite me.

But then I realised it was because something was missing: his gusto.

I guess no one could prepare the perfect instant noodles for Grandfather but Grandmother.

My mother was a good cook, but even she couldn’t precisely copy Grandmother’s signature dish. Grandmother also knew the way Grandfather liked his sweet hot tea: the precise thickness of tea and sugar, as well as the exact level of warmth when it should be served.

A year after that, Grandfather passed away. And then no one in that house ate instant noodles anymore.

***

I am always fascinated by the fact that a bowl of instant noodles can develop its own taste. These noodles come in identical packaging, with identical seasonings, and identical instructions on how to prepare and serve them. Nevertheless, I have heard of people lining up in front of certain instant noodle street stalls, who are all selling the same brand, because ‘the noodle here is so delicious’.

I thought this would be something Grandfather would understand. Perhaps, in another life, Grandmother would have her own stall, and Grandfather would visit every day.

In Indonesia, especially in the big cities on Java island, instant noodle stalls can be found on almost every street corner. Many stay open until the small hours. One need only look for street stall signs proclaiming the word ‘Internet’.

A friend who visited from abroad pointed at those stalls one day, and asked me whether those were street-style internet cafes. I told him that it was a different kind of Internet. This ‘Internet’ stands for Indomie-Telur-Kornet (a brand of instant noodle, egg, and corned beef). It’s a bowl of comfort food for most Indonesians—especially for clubbers who roam the streets hungrily at 3 am after partying and drinking hard, trying to prevent hangovers before heading home and sleeping through the morning.

A local friend of mine would enthusiastically vouch for an instant noodle stall in another part of the town. It would take her 45 minutes to get there by car—an hour and a half if there was a traffic jam. But she would brave it all. She said this stall served the most delicious bowl of instant noodles she had ever tasted in her life.

Perhaps it was the way they prepared the noodle.

Or how long they boiled it.

Or whether they stirred the noodle or not.

Perhaps it’s due to when they added the seasoning.

Or the kind of eggs they used.

The amount of fresh bird eye chili they put in.

Whether they sprinkled fried shallots, or not.

It could be the brand of the corned beef and whether they served it from the can.

Whether they put in some leafy greens.

Whether they grated cheddar cheese.

Whether they added a sprinkle of salt or chicken stock.

Or maybe ‘delicious’ has nothing to do with the taste itself.

Maybe it has more to do with memories.

***

We moved out from my grandparent’s house into a rented one when I was ten. The house itself was really small. The kitchen was oddly located; it was right in front of the bathroom. But the house had a huge backyard.

Seeing it, as a little girl, I imagined us having a huge swimming pool. But my mother sensibly decided to use the space to grow peanuts.

I don’t know why she chose peanuts, but after spending a few hours under the sun in the backyard for a few months, she managed to grow 10-12 rows of of them. I might not have got my swimming pool, but Mother bought me a huge plastic bucket. On sunny days, she would fill it with cold water. I would soak myself happily; wearing my swimsuit, playing with a yellow rubber duck, while Mother worked on her peanuts.

During harvest time, we always had more nuts than we could consume, and my swimming bucket would be filled with them. You could say we were swimming in peanuts. Mother would boil several batches of peanuts for hours; I could smell them from the street. We would eat some of them, but ended up giving away most of them to our neighbors. She also made peanut cookies and peanut butter, but we kept those for ourselves.

When there were simply too many peanuts to handle, Mother would leave the peanut-filled swimming bucket outside our fence, so anyone could grab some.

Peanuts were meant for sunny days.

For rainy days, we had instant noodles.

Mother always scolded me for forgetting my umbrella—or for losing it. On some wet afternoons, when it rained heavily and I came home from school with a soaked uniform, my mother would tut at me for not having my umbrella, while—at the same time—preparing a bucket of warm water for a bath. Then she would send me to the bathroom, reminding me to wash my hair so I wouldn’t catch a cold.

By the time I finished bathing, Mother would have prepared my ‘rainy day’ meal on the dining table: a plate of warm pandan white rice with a bowl of steaming hot instant noodles; and some eggs—fried in margarine and sweet soy sauce. A glass of sweet hot tea would be ready on the side. At this stage, my mother would stop scolding me about the umbrella. She would tell me the stories of her day; or ask me to tell some stories of my day.

My mother could cook anything from rendang to gulai, from gudeg to siomay, and they were always delicious. But nothing reminded me more of the comfort of coming home than the signature smell of her simple rainy day meal: a warm plate of rice, a bowl of steaming hot instant noodle, egg fried in margarine and sweet soy sauce, that glass of sweet hot tea.

It is the smell I come home to—the taste of warmth I’ve come to long for.

***

After Mother’s passing, for the sake of living a healthier lifestyle, in the past few years, I have drastically reduced the frequency I consume instant noodles.

However, every time I come home from a long traveling journey, I still treat myself to a bowl of Chicken Curry or Special Chicken, and fry myself an egg in margarine—drizzled generously with sweet soy sauce.

For this reason, when I found an Asian supermarket in my first few weeks after moving to Amsterdam, I shrieked in ecstasy at founding the exact instant noodle brand of my country; my grandparents; my childhood; my memories.

Every few weeks now I treat myself to a packet of Chicken Curry instant noodle (finding the most bizarre excuses to validate this ‘treat’)—preparing it in a too-clean kitchen that still feels foreign to me, a kitchen that now smells of cheap margarine, fried egg, and caramelized soy sauce.

Because if coming home had a taste, to me, it would taste just like that.

hanny
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The place I like best in the world is the kitchen.

With this heart-robbing sentence, so begins the story of a young woman, Mikage Sakurai, as she’s dealing with love and loss while trying to find her place in the world.

After more than 10 years, the novel Kitchen by Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto is still one of my all-time personal favourites. I couldn’t remember how often have I taken this book out from the shelf and read it again cover to cover, I could almost remember most of the words by heart. The pages have started to yellow and worn out to the point that I started to think of getting myself another copy—just in case.

A SOVIET KITCHEN, MELON, & COGNAC.

That evening, we had just wrapped up our dinner in a local establishment in Kyiv, well-known for its varenyky; a kind of Ukrainian dumpling. I enjoyed mine with gusto (mushroom-filled and served with sour cream) while Ieugenia and Kyryl told me some stories about their childhood as they remember it when Ukraine was still a part of the Soviet Union.

It was drizzling outside when we stepped out, just as Kyryl had predicted in the afternoon. He had sniffed the air earlier as we were walking around Andriyivskyy—dubbed as Kyiv’s most charming street, and exclaimed: “It’s going to rain later on!”

He was right.

We huddled together in front of the establishment, thinking of what to do next. We didn’t feel like going out, but we were still eager to converse some more. So Kyryl said, “Let’s go to Ieugenia’s place, then. We can just hang out there. This way, you can also see the typical Soviet flat!”

The drizzle turned into the pouring rain, so Kyryl stopped a taxi. I sat at the back with Ieugenia, and off we went to a ‘typical Soviet flat’. According to the couple, old apartment buildings in Ukraine built during the Soviet era have identical rooms. “All the furniture, the desk, the chairs, the bed, the stove, the layout, everything is identical!” said Kyryl with much amusement as we climbed the stairs to Ieugenia’s flat.

When Ieugenia opened the front door, I gasped at the view of a ‘typical Soviet flat’ and gasped some more as she gave me a short tour. I felt like I had just transported back to my childhood home in the ’80s. All the furniture and the electronic appliances were the ones I recognized by heart from the times when I was still too short to touch the kitchen counter!

The tube television, the radio, the stove, the cupboard, the washing machine… I kept on pointing at them and laughed nostalgically: “I had one exactly like this when I was little! And this! And this!”

We spent the evening sitting in a ‘typical Soviet kitchen‘ that looked exactly like the kitchen in my childhood home where I could find my mother frying egg with margarine. The similarity was so striking, even to the table cloth.

Kyryl served cognac and cut some melons (“This is not something Ukrainian, to eat melons with cognac,” he laughed. “But this is the only thing we have lying around. And the melon is really good! So sweet!”). We sat there for hours, talking, while the government’s radio was playing some songs in the background.

The tint of its static sound reminded me of the days when I was 8 and found the short wave (SW) switch on my parent’s old radio. That day, all of a sudden, my room was filled with foreign languages: a different kind of strange sounds I didn’t truly comprehend. They came all the way from faraway places: Australia, Britain, Germany, China…

I listened to these radio broadcasts ceremoniously, as if it was my one-way ticket to get transported to another world: a magical one.

I was a kid who found the SW broadcast to be way more interesting than television. I sprawled myself on the floor, one ear glued to the speaker, listening to foreign people reading news in foreign languages from faraway countries. My mother was the one who told me that it was, indeed, just a news broadcast.

However, to me as a little girl, it was a promise. A promise that there was another kind of world out there, a world I felt so close and so attached to, as magical as those foreign voices wafted around my bedroom.

TRAVELING THE KITCHENS.

When I came to think about it, the SW radio broadcast was probably the first impulse I had as a little girl to dream about traveling. And when it comes to the kitchen, as a little girl I spent most of my time in it, watching my parents cook.

I squatted near the oil stove when my mother cooked a huge pan of chicken soto (clear herbal broth with turmeric and herbs) for the New Year, and enthusiastically took the small duty of brushing egg yolk on top of about-to-be-baked kaasstengels (Dutch-Indonesian cookie) as if it was a great responsibility. I hovered around my grandmother as she cooked instant noodles inside a dented pot (the bottom was blackened after years of use) for my grandfather. I adored the smell of the kitchen as my father made scrambled eggs with stinky beans and sweet soy sauce.

Later in life, as I traveled around either for business or pleasure, I found myself ‘adopted’ by a kitchen, again and again. It was in the kitchen that I could experience those moments when I was still technically a stranger but didn’t really feel or being treated like one.

A Filipino lady who lived in Kuala Lumpur took me to her kitchen and taught me how to cook chicken with potato, tomato, onion and cream.

In the remote island of Sawendui in Papua, I squatted in front of the communal outdoor kitchen, along with the dogs and a cat, while the village women cooked rice, mussels, and shrimp the men had just caught a few minutes earlier. In a transmigration village in Pontianak, I let my eyes got teary from the smoke as the village women cooked rice, vegetables, sambal (Indonesian hot relish), and salted fish over a wooden stove. They were chatting and laughing as they cooked, the sounds of pots and pans and plates as they bumped into one another were simply musical.

I loitered around Ian Curley from Conviction Kitchen in Jakarta as he prepared beef tartare and leek salads, and sat right in front of the kitchen during breakfast in Blixen, an artsy brasserie in Spitalfields, London, watching the Chef manned the kitchen staff in awe: reading orders aloud, giving instructions on what to prepare next, and inspecting each plate before it was served to the customers.

I assisted the making of ricotta dessert with honey, orange, and cinnamon for Christmas lunch in Albiate, Italy, shredding the zests of the fresh-picked oranges while the family’s black cat, Pepe, slept soundly under the kitchen table; then hovered over Elena (an Italian girl who speaks Mandarin) in another kitchen next door as she made red wine risotto. I borrowed the kitchen a few days after a visit to the Esselunga (supermarket) to make sambal goreng ati (liver, potato, and shrimp cooked in spicy coconut milk) for the family.

I spent a day smelling of coconut milk and garlic in a spacious kitchen in Amsterdam to make gado-gado (Indonesian vegetable salad with peanut sauce), rendang (slow-cooked meat in spicy coconut milk), tofu and eggplant gulai (Indonesian curry-like sauce), as well as mojito cheesecake for a New Year’s Eve dinner party.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW SOMEONE, SPEND TIME WITH THEM IN THE KITCHEN.

There’s always something magical and meditative about spending some time in the kitchen: either it’s for cooking dinner, preparing breakfast, baking cakes, brewing coffee, or simply watching someone getting busy around the kitchen counter.

The living room is too polite, the bedroom is too intimate, the terrace is too open, the bathroom is too weird, but when someone took you to their kitchen, you’ve somehow been taken in. You’ve crossed the line between a guest and a good friend.

It is in the kitchen that stories were being poured out over pans and pots and kettles and bowls; just like in the old days when women cooked together for a festivity and whispered their hearts’ secrets as they washed vegetables, peeled garlic and onions, boiled chicken broth, marinated fish in salt and tamarind, and scrubbed their turmeric-stained fingers with cucumber and key lime.

It is mostly in the kitchen, around the dining table, or over a kitchen counter, life-changing news was brought out to the open. It is in the kitchen, those family members who do not see or talk to one another as often as they like bumped into one another as they’re about to grab something from the refrigerator.

Because in the kitchen, even in such circumstances when nobody was talking, the silence itself tells a story. Just like the faint sound of the soup in a pan, discreetly boiling over a small fire.

Dream kitchens.

I will have countless ones, in my heart or in reality. Or in my travels. Alone, with a crowd of people, with one other person—in all the many places I will live. I know that there will be so many more. [Banana Yoshimoto]

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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.

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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).

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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.

beradadisini being home (stocksnap)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.

______
PS: If reading is one of your favorite down-time, you might want to check Bookmate–a mobile reading app where you could find tons of fiction and non-fiction books. If you’d like to try the premium access for free for a month, insert the code readwithhanny here. I have a shelf there storing some of my favorite books about writing, Writer’s Reads.
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Indonesian Coffee Culture

Indonesian Coffee Culture

My boyfriend found out that I have sinned. He watched me in mild horror as I disgracefully sipped my well-deserved cup of cappuccino, after attacking some slices of Quattro Formaggi for dinner. An Italian, he knows and adheres the commandments of Italian coffee culture by heart: that cappuccino, as well as other ‘milky’ coffee, can only be consumed in the morning, and never after a meal.

OK, so I have sinned. And from then on, I have sinned continuously by repeatedly breaking the commandments. What can I say? I just enjoy drinking coffee.

***

For some reason, coffee has never had that huge of an impact on me.

I never felt my heart beating faster after gulping down an espresso. I don’t feel suddenly awakened or energized after consuming it. I can drink coffee before bed and sleep soundly for the next 8 hours.

Maybe I am dysfunctional—or somehow, have developed an inherited immunity towards caffeine.

My parents used to be heavy coffee (kopi) drinkers. My memories of a good morning was to wake up to the heavy and acidic smell of kopi tubruk for my Father (tinted with cloves and tobacco from his kretek cigarette) and the sweet and milky kopi susu for my Mother.

It has become a signature morning smell I’ve grown up with. Something to let me know that everything is okay.

The smell of coffee in the morning means it’s a good morning: where I can find my parents in the kitchen, sitting together, talking over their hot cup of coffee—not fighting, or arguing, or a kid’s scariest nightmare: disappearing. Thirty years later, I still find it comforting to wake up to the smell of hot coffee in the morning.

The smell brightens up my day.

***

When I drank my first coffee, it was love at the first sip.

I have always asked Mother for coffee since I was probably 6 years old.

Every week, we would go to a coffee-smelling stall in Pasar Anyar local market where she bought a pack of freshly ground coffee wrapped in brown paper. It could be one of my favorite stalls in the market—apart from the stall where they sell the latest Japanese comics about ballerinas and the one selling MSG-loaded chips.

But every time I asked for coffee, Mother always said no.

“It’s not for children. It’s for adults. If children drink it, they become stupid,” she said while sipping hers.

I had no idea why Mother suddenly decided to let me drink half of her kopi susu when I was 13. Either she thought I was already an adult by simply being 13, or she didn’t mind if from this point forward I would be stupid.

However, I am forever thankful for the chance, the long awaited opportunity: my first encounter with adulthood.

I still remember the sweet and slightly bitter taste of it, the combination of my hometown’s most famous Liong Bulan coffee and condensed milk: the way it glided so smoothly on my palate, so thick and heavy yet smooth and creamy.

It was bliss.

And I have never stopped drinking coffee ever since.

***

I drank more coffee during the times when I religiously watched Gilmore Girls series aired on TV, never missed an episode.

The way mother and daughter started their morning with coffee and went about their days with more sounded like a heartwarming concept.

Plus, I have always rooted to be the straight-A bookworm daughter in the series: I wanted to be Rory. To be like her, I study (carrying my pen & binders everywhere), read books, and drink coffee.

You may have concluded by now that my teenage years were anything but rebellious.

***

Indonesia may be most well-known for what people dubbed as the most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak or Luwak coffee.

The ripest coffee cherries are eaten by an animal called Luwak (a civet/palm cat), and the undigested coffee seeds that come out from the Luwak’s feces are collected to be made into your steaming cup of Kopi Luwak.

However, if you’d like to try it, please take the time to find out the source of your Luwak coffee beans, or get certified ones. Due to the high demand for these expensive coffee beans, sadly, there have been many practices of people capturing civets for coffee farming under cruel caged conditions.

As I grow up and the chance to travel around Indonesia occurs, I have the opportunity to taste many kinds of Indonesian local coffee mix.

When visiting a remote village, stopping halfway for some rest in an unknown part of a town, or simply needing a down-time after a long journey, spending some time in a warung kopi—traditional coffee stall—is always a good idea.

Here, sitting on a bench from wooden planks or a set of colorful plastic chairs, you can always have a nice cup of hot coffee with snacks like sticky rice, steamed cassava, sponge cakes, and sweet or savory fries; while eavesdropping on the locals talking about politics and latest celebrity news.

If you enjoy drinking coffee (kopi), here are some Indonesian local coffee mix you may want to try:

Kopi Tubruk.

Coarse coffee grounds are mixed with sugar (sometimes palm sugar) and boiled water is poured over it. You’ll need to wait for the hot water to ‘cook’ the coffee. It is ready to drink when the floating coffee grounds have all settled to the bottom of the cup.

Kopi Susu (milk).

Kopi tubruk with condensed milk instead of sugar.

Kopi Jahe (ginger).

Adding hot ginger water to your coffee instead of plain water. You can also find some with crushed ginger (sometimes lightly grilled) dropped into the coffee.

Kopi Ijo (green).

In Tulungagung, you can find a greenish coffee with a smooth texture. The greenish coffee beans are roasted over firewood.

Kopi Talua or kopi telur (egg). 

Well-known in West Sumatera, it’s a mix of coffee, sweet condensed milk, egg yolk, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon to be shaken until it’s foamy. There will be 3 layers on your cup: the custardy mix at the bottom, the coffee itself in the middle, and the foam at the top.

Kopi Joss or kopi arang (charcoal). 

You can find this one along the railway station of Tugu in Yogyakarta. It starts with coffee powder and sugar, as usual, hot water being poured over it, then a red-hot piece of burning charcoal from the stove’s fire will follow suit. For Indonesians, the sizzling sound of the burning charcoal hitting the coffee would resemble something like: “Josssssss!” Hence, the name of the coffee.

Kopi Durian. 

Either you like it or hate it: a piece of meat from durian fruit is mixed and stirred in a cup of hot coffee, resulting in a sweet, thick, and creamy coffee drink. Can be found in Bengkulu, but you may want to skip it if you have high blood pressure!

Kopi Kothok.

Popular in the small towns along the north coast of Java, like Rembang, Blora, Pati, and Cepu, to name a few. The coffee beans are roasted with shredded coconut. Then, coffee powder and sugar are boiled together with water.

Indonesia produces between 650,000 to 750,000 tons of coffee beans a year and is the fourth-largest coffee producer after Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia. Italy, the world’€™s largest coffee consumer, has become the main export destination for our coffee growers.

Do you come from a country with a strong coffee culture? Are there any local or special coffee mix in your area I need to try? Or some commandments I need to know before my visit?

***

I still start my morning with a cup of coffee.

These days, it has become more of a ritual rather than a necessity. It just seems like the right smell to wake up to, the one that reminds me of good days, somewhere far away in my tightly-kept memories.

I choose coffee shops over tea parlors every time, stacking a dozen of Torabika Susu instant coffee powder when I travel, and—despite the disapproving look from my boyfriend—still order a cappuccino in the late afternoon, after a late meal.

When I am lost or stranded in a strange country, in an unfamiliar city, in an uncomfortable situation, I let myself be comforted by a smell of coffee: it could be black and strong, sweet and milky, light and chocolatey, and it doesn’t matter. I will follow it with my nose diligently, tracing the air for a sign of that earthy smell: a smell that keeps me rooted to the ground.

I know that I will always be in a safe territory the moment I step into a coffee shop, a coffee stall.

I know what to expect, what to smell, what to see, what to hear, and what to order. I know the cups—whether it’s plastic, carton, or ceramic—will snuggle perfectly inside my resting palms. I know that I wouldn’t need extra sugar. I know the coffee won’t burn my tongue if I let it sit for 2.5 minutes.

As its thick bittersweetness and slightly creamy texture bursts in my mouth, I sometimes wonder how drinking coffee makes me really feel—only to keep coming back to the same conclusion: that it makes me feel like an adult.

It can’t be so bad, being an adult, I tell myself if it can actually taste this good.

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Blog (1)

I WAS 17, typing away from my desktop computer in my room from 7 pm to 3 am, non-stop. The fan was blowing to keep the CPU from overheating. We didn’t have an air conditioning unit back then. I typed letters I would never send, grammatically incorrect short stories in English, angry poems, sad poems, almost-love poems, teenage novellas, and many unfinished novels I kept on revising.

I was 17. I was lonely and sad.

I felt unwanted, unattractive, and unaccepted in a world that didn’t really belong to me. I ran into my books (they make me laugh, they make me cry, but they never hurt me) and my writings (my most genuine company). But books, with stories written by someone else, were like the world I didn’t belong. They were out of my control. Writing, however, was the opposite.

And that was how, when I was 17, I learned about the balance of life.

I wrote about things I’d like to experience. About things, I couldn’t (or too afraid to) experience in real life. In the afternoon, he was a popular guy with a popular girlfriend, and I was the best friend who silently loved him. In the evening, I wrote about how the popular guy fell in love with his best friend, eventually. Realizing that she was the ‘perfect match’ all along. Finding out that his popular girlfriend had been cheating on him all along. But the best friend was already in love with a more popular guy who had been kind to her all along—who had silently loved her all along.

It was only in these stories that I became cute and beautiful, cool and confident, rebellious and couldn’t care less of what other people think of me.

But the morning always came, and I had to go to school.

***

I HATED high school because I wanted to learn, not being lectured.

I wondered if high school would be better if I chose social major instead of natural science. Unfortunately, at the time, I hadn’t had the courage to choose anything for myself. So I tried to skip as many classes as I could, legally: being too active in the student body so I needed to visit other schools and attended school meetings, signing up for debate team and English-speaking club so I needed to spend many days competing in different schools or campuses, offering myself to help the choir team if they didn’t have enough people to sing that day… anything, as long as I didn’t have to be in class.

In the afternoon, my math teacher called me stupid numerous times, scolded me because I often missed his class during the month of the debate championship. In the evening, I wrote about a math teacher who looked down on his student and bullied her all the time. At the end of the semester, the student won numerous awards in various poetry-reading competitions and she made the school famous.

The day I found the Internet in college, I started reading about stars and supernovas, black holes and mutations, literary critics and the beatniks, Freud and Jung. I couldn’t stop asking more and more questions about the things that had always intrigued me, because it seemed as if the search engine had the answers for them all.

And then I found out about blogging. Where I could just write and threw my words away to the world, for some complete strangers to stumble upon them accidentally. It was the days of Blogspot and Livejournal and Friendster blogs. WordPress came last.

The blogs were my ways of both reaching out and reaching in. And I never stopped ever since.

***

MY FRIEND once told me that my blog is reserved for those who are heartbroken.

Maybe because in the old days, I wrote about sad things. I was sad. I didn’t know happiness back then. It was such an abstract concept. Sadness fuelled my writing in such a way that got me somewhat addicted to it. I couldn’t write when I was happy. So I made myself sad, sometimes subconsciously, other times consciously.

But I was tired of being sad. The idea of a troubled and angry writer didn’t excite me anymore.

I used to daydream about being broke and living in a rundown flat without electricity; about working as a waitress in a small jazz club and writing under the candle light at night. I used to romanticise the idea about being a struggling miserable writer. It sounded like an indie movie.

Then Rory Gilmore came along. She made me thought about how I, secretly, have always wanted to be happy. And so I braced myself to cross over. To be happy; even if it meant I had to lose my writings.

It was true that I couldn’t really write for quite some time, but then I started learning to write as a happy person. I learned about it all over again. When I came to think about it, the blog was all about that: about me, learning to write—and about me, learning to understand myself.

***

I AM 33.

I remembered how in my early 20s I found my childhood friend and got reconnected with her when we stumbled upon each other’s blog. About when in my mid-20s, I giddily launched an idea for a social movement with my best friend in the blog, and kind people shared the post to the point that we got more support than we thought possible—that 8 years later, the movement is still running.

About how people I didn’t know reached out to me (or I reached out to them) from the blog, and we poured our hearts out as if we had known each other for years, and then we became friends.

I remembered how in my late 20s I got hosted in New Delhi, India, by an Indian blogger who knew me through the blog.

About how I shrieked and jumped around the room in happiness when my Santorini blogpost got featured by WordPress for the very first time—a few days before my birthday. About how I still shrieked and jumped around the room when some of them got featured again in different years: The Answer, My Saturday with Mishka, Why I’m Keeping My 100-List & The Things I’ve Crossed Off in 2015, and recently, The Short History of Instant Noodles.

I remembered when a month before my 33rd birthday, an editor from WordPress, Cheri Lucas, contacted me and asked if she could make a profile about my blog in the Discover section of WordPress.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI remembered how, in some of my lowest days, I found comments or messages from people I didn’t know in or through the blog; saying that they had gone through the things I went through, saying that they could relate to my stories, saying that they enjoyed being around and read along, and then my days became instantly better.

***

THE blog has been running for 10 years.

I didn’t remember it at first. WordPress reminded me when I woke up this morning. It’s been quite a journey.

Some of my friends decided to create a new blog after a few years. Some said that the old blog didn’t suit them anymore. That some of the things they posted years ago embarrassed them. I understood what they mean. I did feel a certain level of embarrassment when I flipped through my first few blog posts here, but I decided to keep them around.

Because they simply reminded me of who I was. About how my writings grew with me.

I once read that we tend not to notice how far we’ve come until we looked back to where we were 3 years ago, 7 years ago, 15 years ago, 25 years ago. For this reason, sometimes, I look back. It keeps me humble when I read my old posts once again and be reminded of where I came from. It keeps me optimistic to know how far I’ve come. It keeps me wondering about what I would see when I look back to this moment 10 years from now.

It reminds me that no matter how much I’ve been broken, I am still here.

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One day, you’ll understand that the highest compliment you could ever receive is having someone who is with you; instead of having someone who wants to be with you.

By then, you’ve learned the hard way: that promises are not that difficult to break, that people don’t always mean what they say, and that hearts will always change course. When the day comes, you’ll just get it: that the highest compliment you could ever receive has nothing to do with having someone who wants to spend the rest of his life with you. The highest compliment you could ever receive–on the contrary, has everything to do with having the one who is with you: right here, right now.

The most precious gift one can give you is time: the willingness to spend one’s time with you–conscious about the fact that one will never know how much time one has left in the world. What makes us think that we will always have more time? What makes us believe that there will come a perfect day when we will feel better and stronger and bolder… and only when the day comes, then we can offer more of ourselves and our love to the one that deserves it? How do we know that this perfect day will ever come? And even if this perfect day does come to us, what makes us think that the one we love will still be around?

One day, you’ll understand that I-miss-you is actually one of the saddest words one could ever say to you. You used to blush and giggle to the sight or sound of the three words until you started to hear the unspoken words accompanying the three. I-miss-you means I-want-to-be-with-you (but I’m not). I-miss-you means I-want-things-to-go-back-the-way-they-used-to-be (but they’re not). I-miss-you means I-want-us-to-be-together (but we’re not). Now you realize that there are conscious options in every I-miss-yous; conscious options not to do something about it but simply saying it–though we know that we may not have more time.

The best I-miss-you one could ever get is the I-miss-you that is never spoken. Because the one who wants to be with you is there with you; the one who wants things to go back the way they used to be is currently making an effort to do so, and the one who wants the two of you to be together is sitting by your side: holding you as if it’s the most pressing thing in the world one is supposed to do.

Someone who loves you doesn’t need to hear a promise of forever-ever-after. Someone who loves you is not waiting to finally end up with the best version of yourself. Someone who loves you is not looking forward to the day when you can offer what you think she deserves.

Someone who loves you simply wants to be with you–for who you are, with all your flaws and imperfections, right here, right now. Someone who loves you simply wants to hold your hand and look into your eyes in silence and kiss you and smile at you with all of her being and tell you how much she feels for you, right here, right now. Someone who loves you knows that we have no idea about how much time we have left in the world, and precisely because of that, someone who loves you makes a brave and conscious option to spend that time with none other but you: right here, right now.

So be here. So be there.

hanny
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Hanny illustrator
Hi. I'm HANNY
I am an Indonesian writer and an artist/illustrator based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.

hanny

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