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Posts Tagged ‘personal’

So, I am in between jobs, unemployed and have too much time on my hands. I have been hanging in this coffee shop at SMS, the Mall for far too many hours. Almost like a daily ritual, a retreat place for contemplating whether I should go the gym and have my workout; the gym is conveniently locating itself a few door down from the café, such a nuisance, or for continuing my cooling down period from the torturous workout from the gym over tall white – no sugar, in a large mug, one after another, contemplating something else which happen to cross my mind other than exercises, thanks goodness. I always have a book with me to read, sometimes with my laptop, accessing the free Wi-Fi, checking my emails, chatting and of course, my Facebook. When I’m with my laptop, I pretend that I am a famous writer tolling along with my latest novel, typing away while the world passes me by, hush now, I’m creating another master piece. When I get bored, I text, Noval the PT, tell him that I’m at the café (again) and whether he would like to come and join me for a cuppa. He understands me quite well now, just of course, he does pray to dear Gods, that I would be the only client that he has who is so damn lazy to exercise, what a black hole for the continuity of his monthly income. He even says that out loud to me once, “Hopefully, you are the only one with this habit,” while patting my shoulder repetitively, follows by, “Amen, Amen, Amen.”

I become a regular customer, just missing a membership card to this place. Lately, I even try to address the waiters with their names, which conveniently written in big letters on their nametags, pin strategically on their uniforms. I introduce myself once, to one of them. However, I guess, they can’t be bothered to remember my name. To them, I might just be one of those crazy women who are very fond of coffee with no sugar. Nevertheless, they always greet me with a big smile, “Hello again, the usual?” with an equally big smile, I would always reply, “Yes, thanks.”

Today, I probably make myself the newest entry into the wall of fame and gossip amongst the staff. Have I mention that I am between jobs, unemployed and have too much time on my hands? See, a few days ago, as usual, I was hanging at the mall. During one of my “normal” strides heading to the cafe, normal in my term – Ma always thinks that I walk too fast and in a panic mode –  I almost stop walking but didn’t, staring at this lone guy sitting at one of the tables of the café, he returned my stare and throw me a smile. I just looked at him and his smile but I know that my expression was a grim one. I didn’t feel any facial muscle pull forming something resembling a smile or a grin; I just kept on walking and by passed him on a way to nestle myself yet to the big red sofa, happy in finding it unoccupied.

Then the odd thing happened, I was restless, which I never experienced before while enjoying myself in this café. Over that lone stranger sitting at the table in front, why? Just because he was cute, bule (Caucasian) and he smiled at me? I didn’t do anything though, just tried to concentrate reading my book and glance at his back once in a while. Nevertheless, hold on, the saga continues. I went home and somehow couldn’t get the guy image out of my head, not intensively hanging in my head, he was, of course, just a passing thought which come and go ever so often. Guess what I did the following day, that’s right, I hang out at the café again and this time, yes, correct, waiting for that guy to show up.

I don’t know what is it, me and waiting, somehow, lately, all that I do is wait. Wait for a queue at the checkout counter at the supermarket, at the cinema ticket counter, wait for a turn for haircut, wait for a queue to ease at the ATM, wait for someone to finally dump me, wait for people to reply to my emails ‘begging’ them for work, wait for anything else which seem mundane and now wait for a perfect stranger, just because, he gave me a smile. I went home when the clock struck 9.50pm. Don’t want to be stranded here at the mall like the last time; I was in one of my writing frenzies, yes, you guess it, at the same café, listening to the live acoustic band as the inspirational background music. When I look up from my laptop, the waiters have started stacking the chairs around me, the band has sung its finale and the members were then sitting at the table near the stage talking amongst themselves and having their midnight snacks.

Time to go home, but when I reached the taxi stand, it was stranded. The security guard told me that all taxi normally leave the stand around 10pm or so. So, I was stranded at the almost empty mall. Camping at the mall? Didn’t sound like a very inviting idea. I called the taxi company twice and twice they told me to wait and they will try to dispatch one for me. I called for the third time, the battery left one tiny bar mark on my mobile, to panic or not to panic. “I would drive you home on my motorbike, if only I am not on duty,” the security guard told me. I thought, eh… I don’t think I would want you to drive me home, but then again, camping here or not camping here was the question. We started making small talks and he became more annoying with each minute of the conversation, then he started flirting, I could never stand people flirting with me much, something about it just make me cringe. In the middle of that critical moment, trying to decide whether I should just take the risk to walk home, which would be somewhat dangerous in this time of night, I saw, hallelujah, one adorable light blue taxi came to my rescue. Adorable, just because it saved the night for me. So now I know, my curfew would be 10pm. Unless, a friend or my sister with a car is my hanging out companion.

So, the lone cute bule stranger was nowhere to be seen. But alas, hold and behold, he is here now. As usual, I park myself at the red comfy sofa, nursing my tall white, the usual, no sugar, reading my book happily, when I look up, there he is, pulling himself a chair at a few table away in front of me. My heart start pounding, my face turn red, I yell to myself, inside my head of course, he is here! What next? In the effort to calm myself, I read 2 pages of the book that I am holding in my hand, this time, without being carry away to another time dimension of the story, of a woman’s quest in seeking for everything, I think, I am on a quest of my own now. So, think. What next, he is here! 2 pages and a half, I call one of the waiters and ask him for a pen. Hold your breath this is what I write down on the napkin, ask Kiki, the waiter, to pass on to the stranger, pointing at him, tell Kiki, “Could you please give this to that friend of mine over there, yes that bule,” pointing at him handing the note to Kiki.

Hello Stranger,

Would you like to have coffee with me? I’m paying. No, I’m not nuts.

Signed: The girl at the sofa.

Ps. If you say yes, could you please act like you know me, when you walk over here? (and draw a funny face as a closing remark, me on the napkin, not the stranger of course).

I watch Kiki passing on the napkin to him; watch him reading what is written on the napkin while he walks over to the guy. Watch the guy reading the napkin, I can only see the back of his head, but I am sure, he is on total bewilderment. I am in my own bewilderment too. This is a very odd, the strangest thing, a borderline lunatic act that I have ever done, ever, in my entire life.

Then, he turns around to look at me, flashes his smile to me, this time resembling a big grin, I hold up my coffee mug in cheer to him, flashes my own grin back at him.

You want to know what happen next? Hold on; let me tell you something else instead. This is I, after losing 7kgs of my fat. This is I, who now looks good in hot-pant and my T-shirt size has downsized from L to S. This is I, who is now getting use to carry a lady handbag instead of a backpack. Me, who is now getting use to carry a lipstick tube and a compact powder complete with little mirror in my lady handbag. Me, who is recently discovered the magic of pedicure and manicure. Sarah Boone, who is nowadays, can look at her reflection and tell herself quietly, saying,” You don’t look bad at all, missy. Quite presentable, I must say.” Yippie! My hairdo with its wavy natural look perm looks great too.

The napkin! Yes, the napkin finds its way back to my hands, Kiki hands it over to me with a twinkle eyes and a kind of smile that I can’t decode in an instance. On the flip side of the note that I write on a few minutes ago, here is what the cute bule stranger engraved his reply in Indonesian: “Maaf, sedang tunggu istri. Terima kasih ya!” – Sorry, waiting for the wife. Thank you eh!

I feel like laughing my head off. Between my embarrassment and indifference, I just sit there continue to read my book, in “earnest” sipping my coffee like nothing ever happen. Few minutes later, I find myself easing back in my original slumber, supported by the cushions all around me, folding my legs up on the sofa, kick off my comfortable yet chic platform sandals, light up a cig and inhale. Then, in between the story that my book serenades, a thought passes through my head, “Oh MY GOD! The waiters might think that I’m a hooker!”

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Ting!

A/s/l plz?

38/female/Indonesia. Urs?

You have a web cam?

Nope.

OK, ciao.

Ting!

Asl?

38/f/Indo

Do you have pics?

Check my profile.

……

Ting!

I saw your profile, you are very pretty. I like you feet.

Say what? Feet?

Yeah…. very sexy.

Oh, OK thanks, bye.

Ting!

Do you want to see mine? I got a web cam?

No thanks.

I am horny, how about you?

Sorry, not interested.

Hi!

Buzz…

(Me, clicking ignore button)

Ting!

Hi! I haven’t seen you on line for ages. How are you, baby? I miss you.

Oh hi, really? You actually miss me?

Yeah sure.

Bla bla bla ….

Another satisfying night on line? Not quite.

How could you actually miss someone that you never even meet and do not really had a truly meaningful conversation with? After all the small talks about nothing within a specific soul connecting topic, nothing in the level of sharing life stories, just mindless chatting about superficial mundane subjects, could you actually really miss the person? Or, is it just the matter of seeing a person that you had conversation with, any type of conversation with, on line? Knowing that if you are bored from surfing the net and hoping to find other more interesting on-liners, at least you have someone to type words to? Moreover, what is it about “baby” or “sweetie” or “honey” as a substitute greeting, as name is forgettable and difficult to keep track of? Unimportant, insignificant, like the person on the other side of the screen? Honey, you sure look beautiful! Maybe, miss, is actually a word been abused here. Do you miss snow, for example? You have seen the pictures, know about the funs associated with it, a bit history of the formation, very interested to see it with your own eyes one of these days, but you have been living in a tropical country most of your life? Possible? Maybe. Funny, I miss fondue, but seen it and taste it before. The same? Maybe.

What a small world indeed! True. Find your perfect match. Chat with anyone from all over the world. Your soul mate is out there. Be a premium member, post your picture(s);  increase your chance to be noticed.

Do I really want to chat with people all over the world to find a soul mate? Increase my chance to be noticed? Therefore, what then? Happily ever after? Do I need the emotional rush every time that virtual kiss from a good looking opposite sex waiting inbox? You got mail! Do I need that slight disappointment which only has a few days life span when emails or that yellow smiley face next to the name always seem to be in white? Why do I even bother? Why do I seek someone “real” on internet? Hello!?! Anyone? Brain left and grey substance stay at home? Anything more virtual than this? Star Trek – the next voyage.

Someone “real”, that’s actually a strange definition. Real in personality or real in flesh and blood? Those are the two things that could not be sent down the telephone line, could they? Someone to share thoughts with. The other person does not even have the chance to see how you really perform in daily basis. They could not find out if you are a loser in life. Or that time when you lost your cool and scream bloody murder. Or that you bloated like a blow fish in the name of stress and loneliness. Or that you burp or fart like everyone else, considering when it does happened in the privacy of your solitary confine it is human but when in public is a no no?

How could someone be “real” without entering your daily life? How can someone could be considered as your lifeline when you talk about the experience of sinking a week after you drown? How could someone ever actually give an objective opinion when things happen around you in a very complex tenure, which puzzled even yourself as the actor? The other person could always be there for you if you need someone to talk to, yes true, if the other person has a life worth living, glued to the screen always, it is not actually a good indication of one’s life quality, isn’t it?

The leap of technology. It’s a small world after all. The ultimate connection of all the lonely people all over the world. In the name of hope, fun, passing the time, widen ones social horizon, all boil down to one single thing, companion. The craving need to fill that empty space that “real” daily life could not provide.

Ting!

Hi this is Matt from Alaska, single, 40, glad I find you on line. I saw your profile and would really like to get to know you more. Do you have time to talk?

Hi Matt, sure.

So how are you? I see that you into old jazz songs, me too. Which one is your old time favorite?

Moonlight in Vermont. Yours?

Really? What a coincidence, mine too. Have you ever listen to the BB King’s version of it?

YES!!!! Nicely done with blues rhythm. Can’t believe you like that song too.

Bla bla bla

(3 hours later)

It’s been really nice talking to you. I hope we could do this sometime soon.

Ditto, Matt. Can’t believe we have been chatting for more than 3 hours.

Yes, time fly when you are having fun, right. You should get some sleep. It must be about 3 am there.

You’ve been updating the international time zone for my part of the world I see  : )

That’s why I want you to get some zzzzz….. It’s very late there. I’m glad that I caught you on line.

Me too. What time is it there?

Around 10 AM, Saturday morning.

Oh, you wake up very early on a Saturday. Daily habit?

The truth? I was awake too early on weekend and couldn’t get back to bed. So I thought that I log on to see if you are on line. And, what do you know. You are!

(Thinking … this guy is too good to be true, spooky ……… no wild Friday night with a hangover type too) Well, I’m glad that you didn’t decide to try harder to doze off again.

Yes, “what a difference a day makes” surely has a new meaning to me today

Natalie Cole’s version hhahhah (smiling from ear to ear)

(30 minutes phase of goodbye later)

So I see you next Saturday same time same place then.

I like that.

Sweet dreams, I’ll email you during the week.

Bye Matt, have a relaxing day and take care.

Nite nite Sarah, you take care too and I’ll see you in a while.

Still smiling from ear to ear. Logging off and shutting down windows. See you in a while? Eh, hold on. It’s just a matter of speech. There’s surely nothing to it. On line friendship, ok that’s not something that is too much to ask. “Real” companionship? Relationship? Marking a family tree together? Adding another surname behind my own? That’s absolutely ha ha. Different time zone, different sphere of the planet, different culture, different language – just imagine mom, she will be an all smiley face in-law with exotic foods on the table and never be a shopping partner to the in-law. Do I really want this mix? Why am I even thinking about this possibility? This is surely not a possibility anyhow. Give this Matt chap and me a few weeks. Then it’s only gonna be me and this “Mad” guy that I use to chat with. Hallelujah. God have mercy!

And sure enough, I have never seen that Matty guy online anymore…

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“If I were you, I would let him go. You’re better off finding someone who will adore and cherish you.” I read what Mandy wrote in her email to me again, keep repeating the same line, trying to get the message across. “What is the worst anyway? You will be single, you have been there before, and that wasn’t that bad, was it? It is ridiculous really, why it is such a big need we human have, to have someone to love and to feel liked and admired by others. You, for goodness, try to manage yourself and see yourself as “single woman” and seek a life that express that identity. Start by figuring out what is it that you love – truly love about yourself, then, my dearest, I have known you for years now; you will start to shine again.” Jane’s shooting voice is still ringing in my ears.

“Look. I still belief in what I have told you so many times before,” May cuts me in my mid-sentence while trying to pour my heart out again. “You can’t close yourself up, make friends, make new friends, go out, have fun, you can’t be putting all your eggs in one basket, date others, keep them around like an assortment of goodies, so to speak. A is good for when you need someone to go for a movie with. B is good for hunting for yummy foods at any new culinary delight corner of Jakarta. C is good for when you need that serious profound deep conversational partner. D is good for fixing your laptop. E is good for a bodyguard to attend weddings with and so on. You don’t have to be involved with a devotion of a heart and soul, have fun, keep it light. Do your weeding as you go along. If they decide to stay, throw them some bones, you yourself, do not have to decide on anything that you don’t want. If they come and go, you don’t actually care much, do you? I know you think that you love the guy, I know your one track mind, but being miserable and yet still think that you are in love and loved, is kind of nonsense, am I right?”

“You are strong,” May continues her paternalistic best friend lecture; I know she mean well, but she can drive me to slap her sometimes, not that I ever would do such a thing though, “I know you are. But since that Uni days of ours, you have changed and I am worry about you. You used to be so sure about yourself, why are you questioning everything now, why are you questioning YOU?”

“What a bastard!” grimaced Linda, 4 years younger than me, she is nothing like me in personality, but in anger, we are indeed showing the same family trait, “I feel like punching him on the face! Such a coward!” Angel, my other sister, she is 16 years younger than me, put her arm around my shoulder protectively, “Don’t worry too much, sis. Cry if you want. I got this!” pulling a brightly coloured candy stick from her huge cluttered bag and wave it around like a magic wand. I burst out laughing with tears still trickling down my cheek. Linda, uploaded to Facebook, captured the moment on mobile cam timely enough.

These are my support system, my circle of friends, mentors, and lifesavers. These people know me. These are the people that willing to share my life and I am theirs. I am thankful, for each and every one of them. These are the people that come and stay. In my life, they have never said, “Bye now, it’s time for us to say farewell.” With them, the road is never end.  These are the people that never let go of my hand.

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Can’t believe I have been in a relationship with another “false attempter” that life got to offer. They are just a few in any universal count, but significantly numerous in my lifetime a count of 15 or so years search. The seemingly good intenders, whether it was 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years of their lingering process, one by one they let go of my hand, the journey take a sudden halt, and once again I am here. Alone. Daze. Looking around me and ask unbelievably, “That’s it?” Nobody seems to be around anymore for me to even ask for any further questions, silence. It’s just me now. Someone has just letting go of my hand. Why? Someone has just freeze another chunk of my heart. I do wonder how big of a heart that I have to withstand all these frostbites; the past’s, the present’s and the future’s.

39 minutes 45 seconds and counting, uh ah uh ah uh ah. This is a rough day testing the endurance. My heart is sinking with every breath that I take. Flashes of memory pieces dive in and out on the big glass window. My body works on its own mechanical wonder and my brain seems to have even bigger boaster, fuel on emotional turmoil. In a race, somehow the later can’t ever seem to find its switch.

The traffic and buildings outside are glazing away; I’m standing alone on my familiar hill, high above looking over the raging ocean below. A single old wrinkled Banyan tree is standing against the wind, grasses green as any eye can see dotted with small yellow daisy ankle high soft on my bare foot. Blue sky slowly turning its skin to a darker shade, patches of clouds closing in on the bright sunlight, slowly turning into grey threatening rain on the horizon creeping ever so slow. I can see my hand, outreaching, trying to grab the passing wind, by some means it seems to have a life of its own. Separating from my body, which is numb in its existence, housing heartbeats that are out of rhythm. I am here, waiting, for something that never seem to materialize. A sense of loss, a sense of disappearing self, a sense of fatality, which rooted deep as deep as my understanding of being. I am here, piercing through the air over to the distance water. Hopes, dreams, those forbidden thoughts that are all suppressed in reality, grow wild with the daisies on this hill. I am here, free to scream and shout, free to let go, free to build, stone by stone, my castle, stone by stone, almost at the same rate as it was destructed, again and again. But, I am still here, standing, alone, the Banyan is still standing, the wind is still blowing, my hill is still here. I am ever lost, yet, I am here, holding on, taking root like the old Banyan.

Slowly, I’m melting further, a little girl sitting on the front door step, crying in silence, an old German shepherd close at her knees. She rest her weary soul on his head, her small arms enveloping him, drawing all the warm and comfort that her little heart can absorb. Brawling from the end of the back corridor, Ma and Pa, their voice rises in the heat of the afternoon sun. I am here, playing back the too familiar scenes, of both of them standing facing each other, armed with whatever domestic tools that they could find, funny, you would never imagine a bug pump-spray is designed handy for human defender or human offender tool. Ma is angry, tears are running down her face, her hair wild, her voice is wilder. Pa was caught ‘handling’ the maid. The maid is nowhere to be seen. Pa is furious, his strong arms flagging in threat, his face turn to Neanderthal expression, and his voice is even wilder than Ma’s. My stone step is the farthest spot that I can go, for now. It’s not safe, it doesn’t protect me, it doesn’t hide me, and it doesn’t take me away. I am waiting, waiting for the neighbor to open their window and see me here. I am waiting, waiting for the Mum next door to come and take me in her house. I am waiting, waiting for the Mum next door to hold me in her arms, and telling me that everything is going to be fine. I am waiting, waiting for the Mum next door to tell me how a brave pretty little girl I am, that a such as I am, doesn’t cry, God loves strong, brave pretty little girl, and I am one of these girls that God creates to be special, who find happiness and good fortune when she grows up, someday. I am this little girl, strong, brave, pretty, with kind heart and life will be kind.

I am a grown up now, and I am still waiting. I do not know whether I am still strong and brave; the Mum next door is long gone. No one is telling me I am a strong, brave, pretty, kind and that life is just going to be fine. My brain is telling me I am strong, the mill is telling me that I am able to burn 159 calories so far. Uh ah uh ah uh and still counting up.

Slowly, a potato KiwiStag01 flies by approaching the big glass window, I look down at the mill’s placard trying to avoid his gaze. The writing is still in small print, only “Warning” in big enough letters. The stop sign circularly red is so attempting for me to press down. “Warning” I read again, I am still walking as fast as I can, swinging my arms back and forward, still trying to avoid his gaze. But, he taps on the glass and I have to look up. He says, “I’m happier without you than with you.” Smile indifferently while chewing on a chocolate chips cookie. “So, NO,” he stresses on the no, “I don’t want you in my life. Between the continuum of Love You and Love You Not, I am placing myself nearest to the Love You Not scale. I can’t see a future with the two of us in it. This is the end of the road. I am sorry that I hurt you, but I am not sorry for letting go.” He flutters his wings, and hover from side to side, looking at me like nothing happen, like it’s a matter of fact, like telling me the weather condition outside under the tropical sun is sunny, bright, 30 degree Celsius, mild wind. Then, he is gone. Gone from the window and gone in every sense of existence. He lets go of my hand, both in my vivid imagination, and in the reality of my every waking moment.

My legs turn weary, exhaustion creeps in, and my finger runs itself to the stop red button, while the warning sign seems to get bigger with each second past. I crash, in a pile on the mill, my head spinning, my heart racing, my sweats running down blending with my cascading tears. The line between my imagination and my vivid surrounding smudged collapsing into one another. I lost grip of myself, I lost grip of my sense of being. In a pile, I stay, shaking, wrapping my arms around my knees. My brain yells in protest, “Sarah! Sarah! Snap out of it! Sarah! Get a hold of yourself! Sarah! Now! Move on! Move on!” I am still here, in a pile on the mill. “Sarah… Sarah…” a strong hand on my shoulder shocks me back to the living, Noval, the Personal Trainer, “Are you ok?” asks him in alarm. “Yes … yes, I’m ok, just fainted for awhile there, I missed breakfast this morning, I’m ok now,” toweling my face to wipe away sweat and tears, I answer in small voice, probably non-coherent to him but that is the only thing that I can master now and try to stand up leaning on his arms. The wiggly hamster still crumples in pile, on the treadmill that I just step out from, still with tears cascading silently from her eyes, hugging her body close to herself.

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My mobile phone rings. “I love you, Sarah. I love you. I love you.” It’s MY POTATO. This is the first time that he ever calls me since that teary goodbye at Palmerston North’s airport. I have been waiting for so long to hear that 3 little words from him. Yet, when it finally happening, I am stunt, I am happy, of course, but stunt speechless. For once, I don’t have a quick witty come back for a reply. Should I say, thank you? Slowly, all senses come back to me and I feel like hugging everything in sight. He loves me. He loves me. He loves… eh… “I am not in love with you.” That was what he said once on that doomsday, on that last few weeks before my departure. Now, 9 months down the road and being so far apart from each other, he loves me? Is this possible? Is this real? Am I truly, loveable? Are we, truly, an US, a WE, a you-and-me thingy, a pair? 9 December 2008, mark that, mark that, MY POTATO LOVES ME.

Two months later, the postman delivers my overdue Christmas present. I find potato smiling at me on a play back VCD wishing me Merry Christmas and THAT section, “I love you Sarah, I love you, I love you … Merry Christmas.” THAT section has been replay again and again and again and again. I, me, the whole that I am, love you too. I’m in tears, I’m in laughter, and I’m in every stage of emotional turmoil that alleviates me. I love you, for the first time, these words ring crystal clear for me. This is not a movie, this not a romance novel, this is not a story someone’s told me about someone’s someone they know. This is me, my life, my story and I am loved, me, I, do love you.

My Facebook’s status changes from Single to In relationship with KiwiStag01, in relationship with KiwiStag01 … in relationship with. Me, in a relationship!

****

Back anticipating that “Cooling Down” flashes from the treadmill’s screen again today, uh ah uh ah uh ah, go away hamster! I am pissed today and I refuse to conjure your image. In my mind head, I can see her poke her wiggly butt in my direction and snort away holding her nose up high in the air after eyeing me evil.

“Am I correct to think that you would be a kind of guy that would not compromise if you think you are right and do not do anything wrong, no matter how I complain, explain, regardless of how I feel about it and so on and so forth, you will not budge and will never compromise and basically will just expect me to figure it out by myself and accept that you are right and I should just live with it or else?”

My anger fuelling this mill, I walk, faster and faster.

What is that sentence? I flash an angry look at that big wide window in front of me, I can see the picture of that nicely shaped lady with her cool smile, but what is that sentence? traeh regnorts dliuB. Bugger!! Who cares!

I grip the handle bar tighter and walk even faster increasing the speed on the machine. What are you smiling at lady? I growl at the lady picture. Walk even faster and squeezes close my eyes.

“Miss, you are making a very nice view for me from behind.” I snap open my eyes and aiming to kill looking for the source of that voice. Noval, the PT is standing next to me, smiling cheekily.

Before I can say anything, he reached over and reduce the timing on the mill to 3 minutes counting down, “Come on, let’s exercise, you don’t need to be on this for that long, 15 minutes warm-up is enough.”

“Oh,” I force out a smile at him in a haze. I guess, the anger has just cool a several notch down and I realise that my legs hurt from that entire anger fuelled walk.

I am going to call him later, I miss him, I need to talk to him. 3 days is a long enough suffering for me and I don’t really have the energy to maintain this anger anymore. About what, exactly, actually? I somehow forget what the cause of our fight was. I just miss my potato. I need to talk to him.

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“On behalf of everyone from the K Co-op, I would like to thank you for all your help, and most of all your friendship. We’ve grown close together, you are one of us, and you are family. This is not goodbye; this is just one of those phases of our journey. There is no word that I can use to express our gratitude here, without your guidance; we won’t be as what we are today.”

I look around me and try to absorb the entire warm glow from each and every one of these group of people, warm, simple, generous, kind, thoughtful, caring individuals, and trying hard not to break down in tears. This appreciation that they bestow on me is so much welcome, in a way, I feel so self-conscious, wrecking my brain trying to figure out what I have done to deserve such gratitude. Yet, my soul soar tonight, my heart takes wings and my smile almost crack open my jaw. I drank; I sip greedily as this is the highlight of my works. This is my achievement, this is my pride. This is the nectar of life that I store dearly safely tucked on that special corner of my being. This is the moment of reveries that I will be needing when life takes that wrong turn again and I am left alone again and lost, again. This is my string of pearls, this is my invisible tattoo, and this is the fountain where I draw my courage from to move on, to keep on trying, to put one step one after another. This is the core of my self-survival mechanism.

I have been working with these groups of people almost all the time in my career path. From one place to the other, this revealing kind of moments when others make me aware that I am needed and that I am useful, is what makes me grow and grow I did, am and will.

****

“Fasten your seatbelt, M’am.” Smile the stewardess while lightly tapping me on the shoulder waking me up from my day-dream. The plane from Medan to Jakarta is crowded as always, people from all sort of passage almost all with their heavy hand carry and wait until the plane landed, the conveyor bell will surely be full with rows and rows of big luggage, boxes big and small, all sort of odd packages and of course roll cakes’ boxes. Funny, from all of the culinary delights, why people decide on Medan’s roll cakes, it is a phenomenon on itself to me.

Glancing to my left, two heavy-set of men are sitting in row.  Enjoy my window seat you, think I while flash eyeing the guy next to the window. I don’t like the aisle seat, but then again, it is better than the middle seat. I surely wouldn’t want to be stuck between these two big birds. I never have any complain for leg room, short as mine, I can snugly fit in most places. But, in a small plane, economic seat, I need my elbow room, thank you very much. The sure bet will be window seat, or ok, fine aisle seat, at least I can lean to the side and take up as much elbow room as I can secure. “Sorry,” says a lady passing by struggling with her large handbag and a sizeable shopping bag on each arm. Did I mention that when sitting in aisle seat don’t start leaning to the side to take ownership of that comfy extra space before the plane took off? You will only annoy yourself and other passengers. Wait, sit straight, read your book or blank your mind, when airborne, then attack. I mean, take up that space.  Occasionally, you will annoy the air hostesses when they have to manoeuvre around your elbow, but then again you’re the paying passenger; take that privilege to be a jerk once in a while.

Closing my eyes and folding my arms close to me, trying to block away all the chatty people around me. Obviously also giving a clear sign to the guy next to me, to stop asking further questions than where are you going? Mister, we are sitting inside the same plane, my boarding ticket surely mentions Jakarta, and the same as yours I’m sure. Oh yeah, true, I can always be on my transit to Timbuktu. Breath, breath, relax, negative thought be gone. A baby cries somewhere and a child start nagging her mum for something. Lady, please whatever she wants, just give it to her. I open my eyes and glance across the aisle, an old lady smiles at me and offering me a piece of her snacks. I smile and politely shake my head, “No, thanks, M’am,” and quickly as politeness permit, which is by slowly moving my head to a straight neckline forming 90 degree alignment to my shoulder while maintaining that smile, I return to my catatonic position, she might want to know where I am going too. Beat me, where am I going, actually?

God in heaven, oh the mighty powerful being, who ever and where ever you are, this is my last work trip, soon I will be unemployed, please please please ensure that this period will be as smooth as possible. Please please please, let me be by my potato’s side when it is time for me to scan that newspapers again and browse the net for an inkling of any promising and suitable job. Please, hear me, please, by the way, you can send me one of your rainbows, I haven’t seen one lately. That is not too much to ask, right? Just a rainbow please, then I know you heard me and things will be just fine. Ok fine, next time soon eh? Today is just too bright and muggy, a rainbow is yes, indeed too much to ask for now.

Life is not simple, I know, injustice prevails most of the time. I have witness first hand, many of that. You would think that a fair trading system designed with disadvantages producers in mind, will do exactly that, correcting the bias trading system. But, think again, it is actually not how it is done in practice. Maybe I am being too harsh, but from this past 10 years, I am more convince that there is truly indeed that something is fundamentally not right. What exactly it is? The design of the system? The people operating the system? There are surely many variables that you can analyse for any given situation, but the rule of thumb will always differentiate the root to two broad categories, the system design or the people. These two are also interlinked; unqualified people will design an inadequate system. I am not talking about people credibility in the forms of hard-earned institution disperse papers or even about their long listed experiences, but their ability to see and walk in the shoes of the disadvantage. I am not talking about complete range of grand design from needs assessment to monitoring and evaluating and fancy long-winded academically written periodical reports plus a state of the art infrastructure, but a people system that evolve and adjust by, for and with the disadvantage.

An idealist, I am, yes. A hypocrite, I am, yes. Acknowledging that I have to enable myself to walk in their shoes and see life from their eyes, is something quite different when it comes down to action it all in. No matter how it is, I am always going to be the outsider, a visitor, who come for a visit, performing my tasks, pack up, leave and back to my own privilege life. My life will always be in contrast with theirs. My material advantage, my surrounding, and my support functions will always give me a better head start. In all honesty, I am the one who is soaking my life in them and taking advantage of their disadvantage. They are my job, my work, my career object; they are my source of income, but most of all they are the source of my sense of well-being. I might have contributed to their daily predicaments by just doing my job, I would never know for sure. My emotional attachment and dedication are seasonal, chain to my immediate present and involvement in any given task. When I pack my bag and move on, I leave their lives behind me, their lives carry on as always. I would like to think that I made a difference, tiny as it is, during my stay, deep down inside, I hope I have carry a bit of their weight.

See that big bright yellow double arches shaping M? You probably never consider it to be one of THE fancy places to eat. 14 of us do. We are a group of 15 women, young and old, 14 of us born and take up resident in a small village on a foothill of a mountain, 1 of us a temporal resident logging with one of the village leaders, ‘adopted’ as one of the ‘family’ members. This one is also the village leader, in a sense; she is the manager of the community centre. And yet, she is an outsider. The village is our eco-tourism project, the ladies are our village guides, trained to bring warm hospitality to the venturing guests. They are our ambassadors to the outside world looking in.

“Anyone fancy an ice cream?” I smile broadly, thinking that a trip to this mall will not be complete without ice cream. We are sitting in this standardise white, yellow and red world franchise setting, joining 6 of its red-white tables forming a long island of our own temporarily with two rows of yellow chairs. “So, ice cream everyone, I’m paying,” noticing intuitively that somehow my 14 companions have switch to a bit of awkward demeanour. Then, come shy nods around me, and the mist lifts and chatty chat of 14 women spring back to life.

“It’s our free time, if you want, you can have a look around at the shops, and I’ll wait for you here. Don’t worry, I won’t go anyway heheheheh. How about we meet here around 5pm, in an hour? Then we can all go back to the inn, rest a bit before dinner time.”

“Why don’t you come with us?”

“Nah, I’ll be fine here, I don’t like shopping, so ladies, go ahead.”

“I’ll stay with you then,” says some of the older women, “It’s been a long day, and it’s nice to sit here, in air-con room eating ice cream.”

“Hehheheh my thought exactly, Inaq (Madam or mother in Sasak, Lombok local dialect).”

All the younger ladies and some of the older after finishing their ice cream start going about in twos or threes. Me and few Inaqs, we enjoy our ice cream slowly and chat mundanely. In less than half an hour, the first trios come back in sight. “Eh? So soon?” I greet them back. “Ya, we miss you hahhahahah.” Then, soon the pairs and the small bands start appearing back. “Eh? So soon?” Parroting like a dumb bird, I say. Knowing smiles broke all around the occupied chairs now and I am kind of puzzled.

“Everything is so expensive, I saw this beautiful outfit for my son, but it is more than 100.000 Rupiah for a shirt.” All the other chime in and describing their same desire, a hat for a daughter, a toy for a son, a pair of slippers for grandma and so on, souvenirs for the love ones at home. I sit there stunt as if someone has just slap me hard one person at a time. I am sooooo… sorry… all kind of thoughts rush through my mind. Stupid person, inconsiderate person, the big words I heard playing in my head over and over again. I scan their faces, are they masters of camouflage? There are no sad lines on their face. Should I be relief? A big slap lands again on my left cheek, this time I know my brain is keeping me in check and remind me of something fundamental that I should have been aware of. I am sooo… sorry … my dear friends, I didn’t know, I should have been more sensitive.

The plane lands with a sharp jerk, shaking me back to the now.

“This is Jakarta, eh?” exclaims one of the big birds beside me while yawning a big yawn. “Eh… maybe Timbuktu, Pak… (Pak/Bapak – Sir in Indonesian)” I grin loonilly at him and walk away quickly with my sling bag.

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Piles of notes and all sorts of library books that I know I might not be reading them all stack the table and the space around my chair. I am sitting comfortably facing the lavishly green landscape a view from my bedroom window to the garden. It’s an early New Zealand summer day, the sun is bright and the wind is crisp. This is an ideal inspirational spot and yet instead of working on my thesis proposal and preparing for the mid-term exams, I am scanning the pages on my online dating website. Flicking from one picture to the next, I mentally tick mark each person, no, no, oh no, nah, ehm… maybe, no, no, wink or not wink, move on, no, no, no and on and on I flick one after the other.

Then, a mail arrived. Click on the inbox and start reading, Kiwistag01, ehm… what a confidence. He doesn’t sound bad, mentioning that he passed almost all 20 things that I listed in my profile and he would like to get to know me in person. Why not? Let’s reply, ask him to elaborate on each point, find out what he has got to say next.

“What are you doing?” After the period of exchanged emails, I am here to inform that Kiwistag01 and I have been exchanging instant messages on net and off net and phone calls.

“Studying, try to at least”

“It’s kind of late, working hard?”

“On and off, can’t seem to concentrate, been reading the same page over and over again.”

“You need a break, want me to come over and bring you coffee?”

“Now? It’s late, and what happen to our we’ll-meet-next-week plan? You promised me tea in a thermos, remember?”

“LOL, I know, but I want to meet you, I’m in the area. So, can I come?”

“Sure.”

That coffee delivery bought from the nearby petrol station turns out to be a labour-weekend-stay-over. Lead to me meeting his dog, office friends, the whole family, close friends, and me moving in and sharing his living space and daily life. In that span of close to 18 months time, I become we. He becomes we. But, love, is still yet factor in.

“Babe” I can hear his voice calling over the running water.

“In the shower,” I yell back, no need actually, as his head pops between the ajaring sliding door.

“I know.” Grinning sheepishly he closed back the door.

“Cheeky!” I yell again, continuing what I’m doing and wait, listen, a few minutes passes by, and there it is the familiar sound of that online computer game that I learn to hate.

Fresh from the shower, I walk over to his throne; give him a hug and a kiss.

Holding me close, “The raid will start soon,” says he.

“I know,” cupping my hands on his receding potato head, “hungry?”

“Yesss,” his smile broad flashing from underneath all those beard a set of crow feet framing his beaming eyes, and I forget that a few minute ago I want to smack him hard on the head.

“Dinner in 5,” peeling myself away from his embrace.

“No hurry, babe.”

Two plates, I am making dinner for two, he doesn’t like his vegetables, so I puree the carrots and finely blend in every veggie-like substances into the tomato sauce of this bolognaise. Three, I also have my own personal 4-legged dinner companion, PeeJay. She follows me around, sharing my dinner, facing the same direction that I am facing, the TV screen. While her master, my potato, facing the opposite direction of us, the computer screen.

It’s late; I am getting ready for bed after my last cig outside in the cold night air. Snugly tucked under the duvet, reading my book, potato comes and claims his side of the bed from PeeJay. Closing my book, wrestling with PeeJay to put my arms around potato, I whisper, “Tired?” Hugging me tight, he sighs,” Knackered.” I reach over to his side of the bed, find the light switch. Darkness falls upon us, silence, you can hear 3 hearts beat in its individual pace, then sleep comes and linger the whole night. It’s a normal happy day, of we, us, me, him and PeeJay.

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