Last Times

Over the past few weeks, especially since my JEXIT Countdown started, I’ve found myself unexpectedly stumbling into moments of nostalgia.  At this point, I’m just a few days away from launch, so I’ve been engaging in a series of lasts for the past few weeks and sometimes I get a little sentimental about them.  I have a very strong awareness of every action possibly being my last here, because, with so many unvisited countries in the world, I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Indonesia.

The first last I had was my visa extension at the beginning of November.  I wanted to say thanks to the immigration lady who always served me there for her consistent service.  But I didn’t because her countenance doesn’t invite that kind of discourse.  Plus, I hadn’t tendered my resignation yet and I didn’t want her to mention to anyone else from this organisation that I had said I was leaving.  So I kept my mouth shut and just gave her an extra nice “thank you” when I got my passport back.  Even though this lady was never friendly, she was always helpful and I appreciated that, especially after my Aceh imigrasi experience and especially because helpfulness in any government official anywhere in the world is (perhaps unfairly) surprising to me.

Then there was the last weekend I spent at The Jamaican’s house, just 2 weekends ago.  I stayed Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night, leaving early on Monday to get back to the centre for my morning classes.  There, I comfortably convalesced through part of my (hopefully) last illness (not sentimental about that part).  As I rode away from his house and through his neighbourhood for the last time on my Go-Jek, a feeling of nostalgia, almost sadness, washed over me as the fresh morning air blew in my face.  And I straight up felt a little sad when I petted his dog for the last time just before I left.  That dog really is nice – he gives good doggy love and makes me want one for myself…eventually.

Even something as simple as the last time I bought personal items like soap and mosquito repellent and toilet paper brought on the sentimentality.  I won’t miss the mosquitos, that’s for sure, but applying repellent at least twice daily has been a part of my daily grooming for almost a year.  Hmmm, come to think of it, maybe I don’t need to be sentimental over that, seeing as how Zika is still active in the Caribbean; repellent application might still be a part of my daily routine.

OK, moving on.


About 2.5 weeks before JEXIT…me and the regular 7-Eleven night/early morning manager, such a nice guy

I haven’t yet had my last visit to 7-Eleven, which was my saving grace for several months, their coffee getting me through the days when my motivation was at its lowest point.  When I didn’t feel like I had the will to work at all, their coffee gave me the jolt that I needed to get the job done anyway.  I suspect that my last visit will be on JEXIT morning, to get 1 last cup of cappuccino.  But the last couple of weeks have brought those bittersweet moments every now and again. I step into the store and I get a strong sense that next year this time I probably won’t even remember this little place that was an integral part of my daily routine for the 8 months that I lived in Jakarta.  And they likely won’t remember me either.  That’s a little bit sad.


The impromptu note my teenaged girls wrote me

I taught my last class with my teenagers last week  and it was surprisingly sentimental.  I told them that it was our last class together and that I would be leaving in a week.  They were unexpectedly stunned.  They’re teenagers so I expected them to play it cool and basically be like, “Yeah, whatever.”  Instead, 5 of the girls got together and wrote me a lovely note; when they gave it to me, we had a group hug and they all ended up in tears (I managed to keep mine in check – I’m not a cute crier).  A little later on when I dismissed the class, one of the boys, after salaming me as usual, quietly said, “Don’t forget me, miss.”  I hugged him and said I wouldn’t.  I won’t.

Over this, my last week here, there will be food lasts – last ayam bakar, last mie aceh, last sop buah.  There will be transport lasts – last Go-Jek ride and last cab ride with Toto, maybe a last Uber.  There will be last conversations – last “Hallllooooo, meeeeesssss!” from the Go-Jek guys at the corner, last talk with the local volunteers here, last chat with the neighbours.  So many lasts!  I’m planning to get through them tear-free.

So another lesson learned.  Although I’m not someone who really misses anyone or anything a whole lot, saying goodbye even to a temporary place can still be a little bit sad when you’ve done so much growing in that place.  I won’t miss Indonesia, I won’t miss Jakarta, I won’t miss anyone or anything here.  But it’s been a profound year of my life and the fact that I’m leaving here a far different person from when I arrived makes Indonesia pretty special to me.


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