In the count-down to my final days of living in Indonesia, I am attempting to resist the urge to make anything precious. However, like a crabby old auntie who inevitably loves the puppy her family thinks will be good for her, here’s what I’m trying not to miss in advance:
- that warm blanket feeling of walking from crisp air conditioning into the humid air of every single day and night
- the impassioned and consistent calls to prayer at 4 a.m. and throughout the day. Our neighborhood in New Jersey had a noon siren, as what I can only imagine was a throw-back to small town life when everybody stopped for lunch at the same time. Yet, this call is nothing like that. I always have an instinctual American, “Are you kidding me?!” reaction at the brink of dawn, with my head on my pillow staring at the time.
- the stealthy mosquitos that bite and leave just as you begin to sense an itch and wonder, “Is this happening? Yeah, it’s happening!” as you are then forced to reach for the bug spray, always handy.
- taxis with unpredictable freshness levels from drivers on long shifts, unpredictable seat belt availability in the back seat, unpredictable amounts of change, unpredictable familiarity with the locations in the surrounding areas–but driven by men with the predictable questions of where you’re from or how long you’ve been living in Indonesia
- not ever going to or knowing where the post office is
But most of all, I am trying not to miss my pembantu–my helper–Atik. The idea of live-in help is absolutely laughable, pampered, indulgent in my middle class America.
Yet I can’t imagine living without her. I’m resisting the urge to tear up now. The list of things she does for me is too long to include here. Here are some random things that are so incredibly sweet:
- If I run out of wrapping paper just before a baby shower, she hops on a motorbike and gets some more–with Bugs Bunny on it.
- She most recently baked homemade pretzels, smashed some guacamame, and whirred up bean dip for colleagues and friends.
- She mends things that rip or tear or just do not fit right, or finds someone who will.
Humidity, mosquitos, early morning wake-ups . . . Atik. Indonesia has sunk into my pores. My mom has mentioned the possibility of my blood thinning due to the constant heat. That when I come back, it will be difficult to adjust.
When I left North America, I thought I would never let that happen since I truly love autumn and winter so much. But . . . it just might be inevitable.