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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Applesauce and Cranberry Bread

My phone rang while I was on the bus home. It was my best friend. I frantically picked it up. He never called me at this hour, what on earth has happened?

"Hello?" I said in a panic voice.

"Hey," he said, "somebody wants to say something to you."

Next I heard was the sound of two kids on the speaker, one voice on top of the other, "Thank you, Ary," "Thank you for the applesauce,"

I started to giggle and then laughed with joy. The two kids giggled hearing me laughing so freely. They liked the applesauce I made and I got an affirmative "Yes" when I offered to make some more. Life can't be better.

The last two days I have been out of it. The world seemed to be a hostile place to live, with hatred and blindness all around. I spent two days in limbo trying to write my feelings and thoughts, but nothing came out.

A lot of things came out, actually. None that I see fit to published. None that I see can change the situation I'm living in. Human sucks. No matter how hard I try to sway them, human will always be a piece of sh*t.

And then they called. Suddenly life was not that bad anymore. Their honest gratitude for a very simple thing I make, the sheer happiness of my friend looking at how happy his kids are, make me suddenly feel whole again.

Isn't it a wonder how simple act of gratitude could turn your world inside out? How a simple thought of "Maybe they'll like this" can transpire into an intricate mandala where everything is beautifully connected?

Earlier this morning I got praises for my Cranberry Bread as well. Both my friend and my coworkers love it. Even the calorie-counting one ended up eating a whole portion and not just a bite.

The thing is, I wasn't looking for praises. Which makes the compliment feels even more amazing. I have cranberries and oranges and apples I need to use, so I made things that I think people would like. That's it.

The world is bad enough these days, and I strive to bring comfort and smile to people around me. It wont magically change the world, but at least it can give the briefest solace in the midst of storm.

Turns out I was saved too. Turns out if you give a little light to people around you it reverberates and light up the whole area, including yourself. And you never realize how much you need that light until you are basked in it.

"I want to teach them to be grateful for what people do for them,"
"But it wasn't much," I said.
"We still appreciate you."
"I hope they know how much I appreciate the phone call,"
"They do. They laugh when they hear you laughing."

On and on the line went on, and in front of me I no longer see the desolate waste land that I so dreaded. Instead, a ginormous colorful mandala crochet was upon my eyes. Each part knitted with different thread, representing different kindness and different love.

If this is not what life is all about, I don't know what else. If this is not a sliver of true happiness God had promised, I don't know what else. If this is not what hope is, I don't know what else.

I know one thing, though. I know tonight I will sleep peacefully. The darkness is gone for now. I am safe. Thank you all for the light you share.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

This Is Enough

I could feel the taut body beneath me, and his steady, rhythmic breathing. Even though he was fast asleep, his arms still locked tightly around me. My hands rested gently on his hip, my head on his chest, my feeling in bliss.

"You'll find love," they said. "You deserve love," they insist. "Just don't be alone for too long," they told me. But what is love? Do I really need it? Am I really going to risk my sanity once again? What's wrong with being alone?
There were times when it was the only thing I ever wanted in life. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be a special person to someone. I wanted a person who wants me, and only me. I wanted the butterfly in my stomach and the happily ever after.

I got what I wanted, along with the added psychological thriller and the dark, twisted comedy. Princess fairytale with a twist, so to speak. I've been there. It was maddening, it was beautiful, it was beyond perfect, right to the surprising end.

And I don't want to do that again. 

To confess love or affection towards me is akin to entering a contest for the princess' hand in old knight's tales. If you do not succeed or you are doing it halfheartedly, heads will roll. I will not accept anything less. 

Am I really worth the trouble? I don't know. Then again, it's not about how others feel about me, but about how I feel about myself. If nobody thinks I'm worth it, it's fine. I love my life right now and I have so many things to be grateful and happy about.

There were times when these words sound hollow and empty, when it was a poor excuse to hide the loneliness inside. There were times where sex is the only way I can get human contacts that I was craving for, the little bit of attention I so desperately wanted. 

Yet the world is not that scary anymore. Life has beaten me with an aluminum bat and I came back with an even bigger gun. This is the first time I feel whole, the first time I can look the world (and life) in the eyes and say with a smirk, 'Come at me, bro'.

He stirred in his sleep and hold me closer. The movie was still playing on the tv. I snuggled cozily. 

I know I am not completely healed. I know a single word of love and/or affection could send me reeling back into hopeless misery. The doubt, the distrust, the fear, the painful memory, these all will turn me into a savage monster and may God have mercy for anyone who happened to be there.

"There is someone out there who deserved you," my best friend said. "Well let him wait. Or lose my number. I am not interested," I replied with a wink. "You know you want it. You know it will make you happy. I want you to be happy," my best friend argued. I shrugged.

Maybe I want love after all. Maybe I still want my happily ever after. Maybe, when I am not broken anymore. Who knows, I might be un-broken again one of these days. I used to be so scared of life and world, and here I am living it to the fullest. And that's all that matter right now.

The voices are not always silent, though. A part of me gnarled ferociously at the thought of I'm not the only current lover he has. Yet a different part of me, the part that's busy planning all the board gaming, swing dancing, and doing other shenanigans was like, "That's perfect. Our social schedule is PACKED."

And she is right. It's not that I don't need love. It's that I am loving myself right now.

When the movie ended, I woke him up, call an Uber, and kissed him goodbye. As I stepped outside I was greeted by the nippy Los Angeles chill. It didn't bother me, as my body was still warm from the warmth of his body. I waved my Uber and walked with a smile. I am content. This is enough.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ayunan Di Puncak Bukit

Saya nggak suka hiking. Tahu diri banget akan kemampuan fisik yang payah, yang bakalan pas-pasan saat disuruh menjelajah alam terbuka. Saya juga nggak suka sendiri, apalagi di alam terbuka. Panikan kalau nggak ngeliat orang.

Tapi di hari setelah Natal saya malah pergi sendiri. Namanya Secret Swing. Jalannya sih aspal tapi masih pake acara mendaki bukit kecil berdebu sekitar 10 menit. Terjal pula, jadilah saya harus merangkak separuh jalan.

Saya bisa saja nggak pergi. Saya bisa saja menunggu orang yang mau saya ajak hiking bareng. Di kaki bukit mungil itu logika saya berontak. Bagaimana kalau ada macan gunung, ular berbisa, atau bahkan penjahat?

Tapi saya ingin pergi. Saya ingin bisa berkata "I did it. Gue berhasil." Jadilah saya menapak perlahan, berusaha nggak memikirkan apa yang terjadi kalau saya tergelincir. Satu kaki, lalu kaki lainnya, fokus selalu pada jalan dibawah kaki saya dan dimana saya akan menapak berikutnya.

Lalu saya sampai di Secret Swing ini. Hanya ada saya disana, gedung pencakar langit di downtown LA di kejauhan, dan kota serta pangkalan kereta yang membentang dibawah. Saya memberanikan diri naik ayunan yang terlihat rapuh itu. Satu foto saja untuk Instagram, batin saya.

Satu jam kemudian, saya masih berayun pelan, menikmati kesendirian saya. Udara dingin yang mencubit kulit saya menggoda saya untuk pergi, tapi kesenyapan itu begitu indah, begitu damai. Saya nggak ingin bersama orang lain saat itu. Saya hanya ingin bersama saya.

Cerita hiking saya adalah analogi perjalanan hidup saya, dan perjalanan hidup orang-orang lain yang mengalami kepedihan.
• Jangan pikirkan seberapa berat tantangannya, namun terus maju selangkah demi selangkah dan fokus pada langkah tersebut.
• Lakukan sesuatu yang membuat anda harus konsentrasi dan tak sempat lagi larut dalam duka, sesuatu yang membuat anda mampu merasa bangga dengan diri anda.
• Jangan menunggu orang lain. Seberapa banyak pun teman yang anda miliki, perjalanan hidup anda anda sendiri yang harus menjalani.
• Sendiri itu bukan akhir dunia. Sebaliknya, bila kita mampu merasa nyaman dengan diri kita, sendiri itu bisa asyik.
• Terkadang kita harus merangkak, berlumur debu, dan tergores atau bahkan terluka untuk meraih legitimasi diri. Nggak apa-apa. Maju terus.

Bukan berarti menafikan orang lain ya. Saya bisa seperti saya sekarang ini karena dukungan dari pembaca sekalian. Kalau bukan karena saya ingin menginspirasi pembaca saya, nggak repot-repot saya bertualang dan upload foto di Instagram. Kalian memberikan saya alasan untuk jadi lebih baik, dan saya amat bersyukur.

Tapi nggak banyak foto saya yang menangis dalam kepedihan. Nggak banyak cerita saya yang masih bertanya dengan pedih, "Kurang apa sih gue sampai dia pergi?". Nggak banyak curhat keparnoan saya yang menolak percaya lelaki lagi, atau punya pacar lagi. Dan semua ini harus saya jalani sendiri. Nggak ada yang bisa membantu saya menutup masa lalu saya.

Satu kaki menapak, lalu kaki lain. Tangan yang penuh debu dan duri tajam dari semak kering. Legging yang berlumuran debu coklat terang. Berusaha fokus pada pencapaian dan bukan apa yang terjadi bila saya gagal. Sedikit lagi, batin saya saat itu. Saya bisa. Saya pasti bisa. Saya harus bisa.

Di ayunan yang berayun perlahan di puncak bukit saya melihat kesempatan. Jalan tol yang terhampar panjang, gedung-gedung tinggi yang menatap angkuh. Kemana lagi langkah saya akan membawa saya? Yang saya tahu saya siap menjalaninya. Hidup saya masih panjang, dan begitu indah. Tuhan itu baik sekali lho.

Tambahan: Hampir 1.5 tahun saya dan pasangan berpisah, namun perjalanan 'move on' saya masih panjang. It's ok. Nggak apa-apa. Ini wajar. Bila anda masih atau baru memulai perjalanan ini, atau ingin menguatkan dan mengembangkan diri, cari buku saya "Dear Mantan Tersayang" di toko buku. Perjalanan ini penuh tantangan dan perlu waktu, namun walau anda harus mrnjalaninya sendiri, akan lebih ringan saat tahu anda tidak sendiri.

Terimakasih para pembaca sekalian. Semoga tahun 2018 anda menemukan kebahagiaan dan kekuatan anda. Salam penuh cinta dari Los Angeles.

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