I’m writing this while sitting outside of my hotel room in Bandung, Indonesia, braving friggin’ mosquitoes just to write this entry. Tonight I feel peculiar. In fact, in a rare feat, my brain’s in full gear while traveling. This doesn’t happen often, not at all. I’m writing this here, now, because I desperately want to admit this out loud with an urgency I can’t put a name or finger on: time – timing? – is a funny thing. Strange, that.
Today I’m awash with memories from about ten years ago – my first visit to this particular Indonesian city, Bandung. More specifically, it’s the same city my parents spent 5-6 years here as undergrads back in the ’70s. How time flies; what a strange thing it is. I still can’t wrap my head around it. I remember very little about my first trip here, which is kind of funny because I have vivid memories of my visits to all the other Indonesian cities I visited during this period of my life – high school – so why is this one so persistently blank? Until… perhaps, until today.
I’m writing this because it’s strange, remembering that ten years ago when I first visited, I was merely a schoolgirl. Very little had happened to me; I’d been abroad before, but sparsely. I was still holding on to an 8-year old dream – I was still, at the time, working unbelievably hard to make it happen. I had innocence, tons of it. Teenage angst, even more so.
I remember it now, visiting Mum’s alma mater and meeting up with the university’s batch of Malaysian students at the time. I remember it now, my awkwardness and constant embarrassment at not being taken seriously because I was merely a schoolgirl. I remember it now, there was this guy – Chinese – who was probably their student leader. There was also this girl – Malay – who was probably their other student leader. I remember it now, I crushed on him; he was cute. I think she was his girlfriend. I remember foolishly thinking, oh it’s possible? I remember wanting to be taken seriously but college students, ah what do they know? They either acted like I didn’t exist or I was this wee little thing, “Oh the visiting Professor’s daughter!” I remember all the frustrating ways my bones and characteristics stuck out awkwardly, always at odd angles; how I was always too much or too little — such is how everyone remembers themselves in high school, after all.
I’m writing this now with a desperation, almost obsessive, to write this down simply because I’m awash with nostalgia and irony and a bucketful of mixed feelings. It’s been ten years, I remember it now. It’s been ten years and my god, how much things have changed. How much life took over and happened in that period. How much I’ve grown up since then. How much my parents have aged since that first visit of mine, how many friends they continue to lose in the inevitable life cycle.
It’s been ten years – wow. I’ve spent six definitive, memorable and meaningful years abroad. I’ve come home – for good – with two degrees, up to a masters. In environmental engineering, no less; who would’ve guessed? I’ve even been a college student – twice. Man, how I used to envy those students. I’ve gone abroad, one green grass after another. I’m headed out again in two weeks, in fact. No longer that little girl who thirsted for the greater world with little perspectives.
I’m no longer little, period.
I’m writing this simply because I can’t believe how much I’ve grown. Wow.
Time – timing? – is a funny thing and right now I’m writing this to say that everything feels so fuckin’ strange.