I was torn.
The part of me that loves nature, pursues independence, and thrives on fresh air and country road driving didn’t want to go back to Jakarta. My family wasn’t in Jakarta. My books weren’t in Jakarta. My childhood wasn’t in Jakarta.
And then, the other half of me… well, every moment I was at home, I felt more and more distanced from my expat existance in Indonesia. Regardless, I cognitively knew there were things that I loved about Indonesia. My co-workers, my students, my apartment and it’s view of the city.
I think about the idea of home a lot. I know that it is normal to think about home and to feel displaced for a while, but I think that I may ruminate over the idea more than normal. My home, tucked away in between green pastures and a soybean field, set just in front of the woods… when people say home, that’s what I picture. It’s an image loaded with emotion, fueled by nostalgia and the fear of loss. It was harder to leave this year than last.
As Teresa and I descended into Jakarta, it was sunset. As we sliced through the layers of clouds, I watched the sun touch the tops of the clouds and then fade into the haze that marks the smog blanketing of my dirty city that is also, somehow, my home.
At the airport, I knew where the taxi stand was: does that make Jakarta my home?
I told the taxi driver where I wanted to go using bahasa Indonesia: does that make Jakarta my home?
Janna was in the lobby when I arrived and gave me a hug. She helped me wheel my bags into my apartment, and as I turned on lights and aircon units, I felt a sense of ease.
There was no food in my fridge, but I knew where to buy all of the things I needed: does that make Jakarta my home?
The barista knew my name, and asked me how my summer was in America: does that make Jakarta my home?
My new classroom isn’t set up, but Kendal and Tyler stopped by and danced in the empty space of the floor. Joel came in and we talked about America. Madi and I sat around the only table set up in my classroom, and planned for this year’s Grade 9 English class with the newest addition to our department. Do these experiences make Jakarta my home?
There are a lot of ways to make a place feel “homey” and to create warmth and familiarity in a space that is new. However, that is not what makes a place a home. There is no formula, no boxes to check in the creation, and no way to force its occurence.
Jakarta is my home. Like a lot of things in this life, it is temporary: a small, transient piece of the Where-Is-Home puzzle that will continue to be pieced together for the rest of my life.
So right now, home is twelve stories up, around the corner and to the right.