I love music.
I have always loved music: I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read treble clef sheet music or find middle C on the piano.
I consume music much like I consume books. I come back to songs like I come back to chapters, to artists like authors.
There are some songs I can’t listen to while in Indonesia, because they hold too much emotion; listening to them would break me.
However, some songs have adapted to my new life in Jakarta, and one song in particular seems to relate to my present circumstance more than any other.
“Here comes a feeling you thought you’d forgotten
Chairs to sit and sidewalks to walk on
Ooh you had it but oh no you lost it
Lookin’ back you shouldn’t have fought it.”
(“Horchata” || Vampire Weekend)
Jakarta has no sidewalks. The temperatures are always high, and so is the smog level. The sun shines onto an urban jungle of drainage ditches and corrugated metal. But that is not how I grew up, not what I used to have.
I wouldn’t say that I fought against the niceties of American life, but I would say that I didn’t appreciate what I had in America.
I didn’t grow up with sidewalks, but I grew up with grass and trees. I don’t know where I would be established if I wasn’t living in Jakarta, but I think that if I was living in an urban area, I would be longing for forests and dirt roads, and if I was living in the country, I would be wishing I was closer to civilization. I know I will always feel torn between the two. It’s not that I am not enjoying life as an expat, or regretting my decision to move to Jakarta. That’s not it at all.
But as it stands now, all of the “forgotten” feelings are at the surface.
Home is magical. I think I actually forgot what it was like to breathe deeply, with your whole lungs. Stars, I remembered a bit better, because every once in a while you can see a star in Jakarta.
I forgot what it feels like to sing at the top of my lungs to the radio while driving down the road.
The feeling of being surrounded by people who have a knowledge of you developed through long acquaintance. The feeling of being in nature, the feeling of driving down a sand road, the feeling of stairs that creak beneath your feet in predictable places.
Oh I had it, but oh no I lost it.