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#8: Something's happening to me
This isn’t gonna be coherent (is any of these letters even ever that?), but I’ve missed writing here. Unfortunately, I’ve also been scared. The need to be coherent so as to not to be misunderstood scares me, even though nothing has ever happened in relation to my writing to make me feel that way. Anyway, either I’m feeling delirious or today is just one of those days where I miss it more than I’m afraid of it, so here we are. Thoughts to literal risk-loaded words (ooooo spooky~).
Before that, though, two things:
I changed the URL to this newsletter from partyofthree (dot) substack (dot) com to pagesnotfound (dot) substack (dot) com — just because it’s the most at-home I’ve ever felt with an online identity. 🤠
Also, in case you missed it, a few months ago I published a Zine with Cahyati Press. The zine is titled “Some Type of Love” and features poems from Rara and Farhanah, as well as five fragments on love (the only thing I feel comfortable writing about, it seems) by yours truly. I loved working on it, I love having written, and I love Avi & Katy for allowing me the space for it. If you’d like to purchase a copy, email me by replying to this letter!
Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine this was 2021. I am driving down Semat Raya, down Canggu’s world-famous shortcut, coming out of it on the corner where Revolver Coffee sits. Driving pas Batubolong, through the Pererenan shortcut, always so afraid I’ll drive my bike into the walls. This part of “Canggu” is nice and quiet and bearable. There this coffee shop I used to go to really early in the morning, which is 7am, early by my standards, not so early for the surfers. There, I’m a morning person. I was working a job that was was dreadful and anxiety-inducing at the time and I found safety in getting to do things early, before those Slack notifications start coming in. Sometimes Avi would come by. Or Adam. Or Aidil.
I bumped into an acquaintance the other day at my neighborhood coffee shop, someone who had also been there and had stayed for about a year longer after I left. We both ask each other the customary “are you back in Jakarta for good?” that people who “were there” tend to ask when they bump into each other outside of the island. “I am!” I said, proceeding to ask her “Are you so sad to be back?” This particular acquaintance was the outdoorsy type, and she had seriously taken up surfing during her time there, properly maximizing the proximity to nature that living there provided. I was under the impression that, of all people, she would have found being back in the city appalling.
“Actually? Not really. It just feels like it’s time, don’t you think?” her tone so matter-of-fact it seemed she hadn’t had to think too hard to find a bright side to Jakarta.
It’s refreshing to hear people not hate on this city. Sometimes I need to hear the nice things to not feel crazy.
Something’s happening to me. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s good, but I know it isn’t bad. For almost two months now I’ve been consistently taking lemon shots + honey on an empty stomach first thing in the morning — something my mom has been telling me to do as far back as 2010. Several people have complimented me on my complexion/general facial skin condition and, although I honestly have no idea whether that had anything to do with the lemons, I’d tell them about it anyway just to find it out what it’s like to be the one walking around with unsolicited health tips to pull out of my pocket.. “I’ve been doing this thing every morning…” I feel as insufferable as I sound, 10/10 do not recommend.
I also got myself a walking pad the other day, which, to my surprise, I have managed to take out of the box (it was heavy!) and actually use (it is heavy!), more than once a week. Exercise-averse me. On a foldable treadmill. That I voluntarily spent actual hard-earned money on. And all of that on top of a spin class that I go to once a week after work.
Something happening to me. It’s like I’ve been more afraid of dying than usual, lately. Unusually afraid of missing out on life.
I’ve also been listening to Taylor Swift again (something is happening to me!). The last time I rode on the Swiftie train was circa 2014-2016, her 1989 era, when Snapchat was the “it” social media, when Jokowi was first elected president, when she had that fling with Tom Hiddleston, which eventually gave me the ick. I don’t think I’ve recovered from cringing so hard when those staged beach photos were published. You get the gist.
I’ve been revisiting the Fearless album in particular, with the first two songs playing on loop. At one of her Eras Tour shows a few weeks ago, Abigail, the high school best friend that Taylor mentions by name in the track “Fifteen” was present, watching from the VIP tent, and Taylor played the song as her surprise song of the night. Here’s a clip from that moment. The image of her singing along to shared experiences that are over a decade old sent me down a rabbit hole of my own experiences being 15 — a time that for some reason I rarely ever think about, so much so that I feel like I’ve forgotten most of it. Who reminisces about 2005 these days anyway? At 33, being 15 feels too long ago to be relevant, and listening to the song now is helping me access much-needed compassion for this oft-ignored version of myself.
Cause when you're fifteen,
Somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen
Feeling like there's nothing to figure out
Count to ten
Take it in
This is life before you know who you're gonna be
I mean — when I tell you I SOB TO THIS.
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