a tale of two homes

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


I landed in Melbourne at 7:30 in the morning, on a Tuesday. The flight was filled by groups large and small—families arriving home, backpackers with fresh leg tattoos, and young students hauling bags of musical instruments.

We all made our way out of the plane and into the airport. As I was walking in, one of the young boys trailing behind me was especially thrilled. "Home sweet home!" he excitedly declared, to his siblings who were walking beside him.

A small part of me envied him, with the skip in his step and his gleeful demeanour. I envied the boy, for reasons I wouldn't dare admit—I envied how he had one home to come back to, instead of two, simultaneously.

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There is a country tucked beneath the South Eastern region of Asia. A massive archipelago, with messy cities, and even messier people. It nestles between two oceans, two continents, on the Earth's equator, upon a disarray of tectonic plates. I guess you can say we like to live rather dangerously.

Indonesia is home to many paradoxical things—politicians and poverty, villages and volcanoes, culture and corruption. And among these things is me, along with millions of other citizens. I've always found it a much too chaotic place to proudly claim as a motherland. Indonesia is home, but also many things besides it.

A nation that stumbled into independence, refusing to wait for diplomatic permission. A nation so large and populated, it always turns so noisy and unkempt. A nation with spices so prominent, the Europeans once sailed that far to take them. A nation with beautiful, breathtaking landscapes; mountains so majestic it's like God took extra care.

Within the nation's borders are roughly 18,000 islands, and upon one of which is a city. Inside this city, there is a house. It's a house a family moved into, carrying hopes, dreams, and a little baby girl. This was nineteen years ago. Much of this story has changed profoundly.

The same woman now still inhabits it. A tall lady, who sews clothes and reads books, living with her husband, a hard-working man of very little words. An entrance of wooden double doors, and a backyard view that gives them the sunset. An old piano, left many months untouched, and Venetian blinds that make way for morning sunlight. 

There is a house that I had left, on the far west side of town. A house in which I would always find comfort, shaped by the sheer familiarity everything in it holds. The wooden double doors, and the backyard view that showed many sunsets. The old piano I have many months not touched. Venetian blinds always making way for morning sunlight.

One time as that morning light came, I was in the living room flipping through my family's photo albums. Page after page, my toddler self stared back at me like someone she barely recognised. Indeed, I'd spent the last 12 months in a foreign land, striding into a world of adulthood. And when one leaves, one comes back changed. I was not in the business of pretending that I hadn't.

Feeling like a guest in your own house is indeed a funny feeling. In one of my first days, we were cooking in the kitchen. Once finished, my mother told me to set the table. Doing as she instructed, I headed to the cabinets where we kept our dinnerware. I spent a minute or two looking around, confused on where to start. "What's the matter?" my mother asked. Embarrassed, I told her, "I forgot where we kept our dinner plates."

Living in Melbourne takes much effort and assembling, so it felt odd to once again have everything provided. Soon I realized there were far too many things about home I've always taken for granted; even the feeling of being fed and comforted almost felt new to me. I finally woke up to a warm "good morning", and not a silent little apartment. Dinner table conversations, and shared laughters on the bedroom floor. There was always someone to help when it was needed, there was a warm feeling of family I hadn't sensed in a very long time. So long that I felt unnatural within my first week. But soon after, it was like I'd never left.

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On my last night, I was on my bed staring at the ceiling. Being at home had made me a child again, and I was restless about leaving that role. There have been many moments in my life where I silently begged for time to stop. Truth be told, this was one of them.

However much or little time you spend, nothing truly prepares you for the time of leaving. But though it was nice to spend the past month sitting in my nest, I couldn't ignore the pair of wings I'd already grown.

I kept staring at the ceiling—I was no longer the child my bedroom walls still thought I was. If people suggest that growing up means getting less attached to where you came from, for me, it is painfully untrue. A part of me hopes it remains untrue, continuously. If I soar with new grown wings, may I never forget of where it was that I learned to fly.

I fell asleep with a heavy heart. The child in me was conflicted; sad about going, and anxious about what comes next. But maybe I didn't have to leave her behind just because I wanted to resume my growing up. Maybe she didn't have to feel abandoned, frightened by the world, alone in her wake.

Maybe this time I can take her hand, acknowledge her as part of me as I go on. Maybe now, she can journey with me.

Maybe it's time she finally sees, what it truly is like to soar.



There is a shoreside, busy metropolis, tucked beneath the southeastern part of Australia. It sits at the far end of the large and dry continent, making it prone to many hailing winds. 

"Four seasons in one day," its inhabitants say as a common phrase. Temperatures drop and rise rivetingly, as if both sun and snow wish to rightfully reign.

A lively hub of creative souls, all kinds of artists fill Melbourne's city streets. Jazz musicians and tap dancers. Young magicians and mural painters. Newly built skyscrapers sit side by side with decades-old establishments. There are coffee shops in hidden alleyways; stay in one long enough and you might sit next to a poet. 

Flocks of birds gather at city squares, while trams and bikes occupy busy roads. And Melbourne houses all kinds of different folks; an amalgamation of wandering souls. A clamorous group of people, from such various backgrounds and ethnicities. Bustling past one another, serving their own purposes, bearing their own stories as they brave the crowded city.

Melbourne is a mosaic of many different parts, impossible to define by just one trait. Among its inner suburbs is Carlton, a charming little area on the northern side of town. In earlier years, Jewish and Italian immigrants largely populated the district. Today, Carlton is home to picturesque parks, old-fashioned buildings, popular cafés, and plenty of fine trattorias.

Within the suburb, in one of its apartment buildings, sits my little corner of Melbourne; a small studio I currently call home, nearly 3000 miles away from my old. It settles on the side of a quiet intersection, neighbouring a library, a park, and a handful of boutiques and restaurants. A neighbourhood I enjoy exploring, especially in early mornings. In mornings, the light is still soft, and the cafés have just opened. Bread freshly baked, coffee freshly served, and chairs filled by the elderly, doing their daily crossword puzzles.

It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the space in which I live today. Nothing was familiar when I first moved in, but now I'd grown accustomed to its quaint little streets. 

There aren't any wooden double doors, but now my door neighbours several others; big city venturers like me, living just down the hallway. I'm far from having my massive backyard, where I once had rabbits and dogs, from where I'd always watch the sun set. But now sunset shows, through the warm ray of light it forms near my window. It slowly dissolves to mere shadow, and later dark, as another night falls.

I've been thinking about those Venetian blinds—I was firstly doubtful about my mother replacing our curtains. We've had the same ones since the house was first built, and I was always unsettled by the thought of my home being changed. Now, a year has passed, and the Venetian blinds function better than our curtains ever did. I suppose it taught me that new things should excite rather than scare me, and my home—well, my idea of home has changed expansively.

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Much else can change within a year, and I find it both daunting and exhilarating. I've persevered (I should say–barely) and I plan to continue to, in hope of what's ahead.

I crossed an ocean and found a home, but my heart's still anchored to the one I had left. I'd spent the past year trying to lift the ropes, but come to think of it, maybe anchors are actually quite necessary. Because when we grow up and our lives change so dramatically, there's an inner child experiencing all of that too. Therefore I'm reminded to assure her things are okay. Things are different, and real tumultuous, but still very much okay.

Three thousand miles away from the nest, but my heart is full, and no longer hollow. The people I've met, the things I've learned, none of these I would ever possibly trade.

New things still scare, rather than excite me, but my journey thus far has continued to prove me wrong. So now that I'm back, thinking I've left my "real" home, I remind myself, You are home. 

You've been home all along.

---

To Venetian blinds, and the things they can remind me of,











3 comments

  1. I think it is always difficult to live away from the originally roots.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I absolutely loved reading this piece. Love your writing and this journey is inspiring <3

    Hannah / Words & Latte

    ReplyDelete

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