I understood when I booked my ticket that returning to Indonesia would be a challenge, that having my family halfway across the world would take its toll psychologically and spiritually, that expressing an uncomfortable state of grief in a culture not my own would prove difficult. What I did not expect, however, is that these challenges would result in such irrepressible frustration on my end. I find annoyance in every little interruption to my day, in any potential deviation from the lesson or event that I had planned out. I become aggravated to the point of tears when my co-teachers fail to show up to class, despite the fact that since my very first day at school, they were about as present in the lesson as water-buffalo on Mars. I grow enraged in a tantrum-esque battle with my water-pump as my faucet once again fails to manufacture any indication of a liquid substance, producing instead only a taunting gurgling sound. I immaturely huff a sigh of nuisance and restrain myself from revealing one-specific finger in a particularly American gesture as the men on my street perform their usual jeers and signals as I walk home. In examining my anger, however, I have realized that all of these sources of frustration, whether it be my relationships at school, the crowded angkot rides home, or even general irritation with the hot weather itself, are consistent. They were present when I left Medan, and they are present when I arrived back- they remain unwavering. It is I that have changed. It is I that have let my negative ‘My-mom-died-and-then-my-dog-died-and-I-feel-like-I-am-losing-everything-I-love-and-now-I-am-halfway-across-the-world-What-the-heck-am-I-doing-with-myself-Now-I-am-questioning-the-meaning-of-life-and-existence-and-am-angry-with-whoever-is-creating-these-challenges-for-me-and-all-I-want-to-do-is-curl-up-in-a-ball-and-cry-and-eat-and-sleep-except-minus-the-eating-because-I-have-no-appetite’ attitude consume my identity. I have become enveloped in a dense cloud of gray and have let my challenges define my outlook on life. I have failed to remember that I have control, that I can choose to look for the positive, that I can find the glimmer in life despite the grayness that surrounds me. So, to remind myself that I am capable of finding the beauty and sparkle in my existence, and simply to spite the grimness that has consumed me this past month, I have decided to end this blog post with 5 things that I found special about today:
1) The blue sky. I know that for those living in America this may not seem like anything special, but for those of us residing in the smog-infested urban cities of overpopulated Indonesia, blue skies are a rare treat.
2) Coffee. I do not typically define myself as one who needs caffeine to get the ball rolling in the mornings, mostly because I generally wake up with more energy than the Tasmanian Devil, but the creamy little coffee-juice-boxes here have grown to become the highlight of my morning routine.
3) Friendship. Despite my tendency to erratically burst into tears at any given moment this past month, my friends have still decided that I am worth keeping around (or else, are doing a stellar job of stealthily, gradually purging my neurotic self from their lives. The trick is on you, suckers, ‘cause this frenetic gal is around to stay *crazy eyes*).
4) Ice cream. I have decided that if ice-cream cannot make me feel better, momentarily, at least, then nothing can. No matter how lacking my appetite has grown, I can always manage to scarf down some of this creamy deliciousness.
5) Writing. When I began this blog post, I was consumed with all of the frustrations of the day. ‘Oh my gosh, my water is not working AGAIN, and now my computer is broken, and why is this woman sitting on my lap in this angkot? Can’t she see that it’s full? And just where-oh-where-have-my-coteachers-gone-oh-where-oh-where-can-they-beeeeee? And no, I cannot lead this lesson by myself because I haven’t been here for a month and don’t even know what topic my students are on, and no, I will not, instead of giving a lesson, talk about my dead mom and her funeral in America, and no, I do not want you to ask the students if they have any questions about my loss, and why can you not see that my grief is not the opportune moment for an English lesson? And I wonder if this is what going crazy feels like, this acute sensation that the heavy feelings in your gut and the whirling thoughts in your mind are not your own, that someone much darker than you has temporarily misplaced them there, but now here they are, rooting, reaching, festering, and these mislaid thoughts of another slowly turn into your own actions and your own emotions, and you are left wondering where you stop and the other takes over. And now I am frustrated and I feel sick and I am crying in the front of my class and I look like an idiot and I feel like an idiot and I am an idiot because teaching is the only thing that brings me happiness and I can’t even do that correctly right now and the universe is conspiring against me and I am overwhelmed and I am still crying, and I want to go home, not to America home, but to my house in Medan home, because America is too far and I really just need some chocolate and a nap and WHY AM I STILL CRYING?, or, in the wise words of my best friend, WHY IS THERE FLUID LEAKING FROM MY EYES?’ But now that I have channeled all of these frustrations into a cohesive (but perhaps not-too-articulate-or-sane) source and they no longer exist as a mind-clutter akin to space junk, I feel more at peace. I have the regrettable belief that I will find these frustrations again, but I also have the not-so-regrettable sense of calm in knowing that I can overcome these aggravations to find the beauty in my life.