I dreaded coming back to Indonesia, I’m ashamed to say. I spent the last few days of my vacation abroad surrounded by cranberry juice, a fast internet connection, English novels, and Monty Python episodes with my brothers. How could I leave all that? My heart sank at the thought of it.
When I first returned, on the day before New Year’s, I stayed with a friend, an embassy employee in Jakarta. Her place was, for me, a sort of halfway house: cranberry juice but no fast internet, English books but no loving family. I spent my time there sleeping (one night, for a record fifteen hours), reading books (seven novels in two days, my idea of heaven), and eating American snacks from the commissary.
I came back to Semarang on Wednesday night, on a ghetto little plane (insects crawling on my seat: seven) with a ticket I had purchased for twenty dollars the day before. I spent the flight planning my lessons for Thursday and Friday only to discover, when I landed to a flurry of text messages from my school, that the students had testing on Thursday and I didn’t have to teach. Fine, I thought, another day in the sun, reading novels and finishing my grad school reapplication. Friday morning, I woke up bright and early (or, at the very least, early, since the sun isn’t quite up at 5 A.M.) and headed in to school, only to find out that testing extended to Friday and therefore I still didn’t have to teach. No one told me because, as my favorite teacher put it, they missed me. It was rather sweet, really, except that it meant I wasted an entire week in Jakarta and Semarang that I could have spent in Bali. (I forgive them. See what I sucker I am for people who miss me?)
Now that I’m actually back, I am, to my surprise most of all, glad to be here. Between a church activity where I was greeted, loudly and enthusiastically, by the missionaries, the entire Relief Society, and the children to whom I teach piano lessons; time spent exchanging vacation stories with my favorite teachers; the new Decemberists CD to obsess over; a random school trip to Kudus, two hours away, simply to tell three middle schools there that we would like to visit later in the week; and the exciting discovery that I’m suffering several of the major symptoms of pinworms, I’ve realized I really do have a life here. It may be different, sometimes to the point of surreal, it may not be what I expected, it may not even be exactly what I want when I wake up every morning, but it is my life and I’m happy with it, parasites and all.