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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

Memoirs from Jogja

As we head to Flores, on this new stage of our journey, I can’t help but to mentally organize my experience in Jogja as framed pictures of specific fleeting moments. Maybe collecting those pictures makes it easier for me to digest how they make me feel. Or maybe I just want those moments to stick with me as I navigate life, in the form of images, that can pop up in my mind whenever I need them to.

Through the next following paragraphs, I will elaborate on the moments I mirror into imaginary pictures, hoping to create a subjective scenery in which the reader can resonate with my feelings of gratefulness, respect and humbleness towards my host family and Jogja as a city itself.

The clouds, always voluptuous, undulate along the beach blue sky. I find myself constantly gazing at them, absorbed in the tender movement of their migration caused by the wind. It seems as if someone had blown them on purpose, positioning them with maximum precision. They follow me everywhere. Through the windows while riding a taxi, above my house fence, beyond the hole in a wall, in the review mirror of motorbikes. I see them so much, worship them, dream about them, to the point that I even imagine them hidden very deep in my pants pockets.

Ibu Lia has the softest skin I have ever seen. Light brown, neutral pigment, almost the same color as dry clay. She spreads lime across her face every morning. She doesn’t eat much sugar. She wears no make up. Her short hair frames her tender face features and bone structure. She is not only beautiful, but also kind. Oh, so kind. I wonder if her personality, and not the lime, is what makes her skin and her soul that soft.

Nicho rested his hand on top of mine, when riding in the back of the car home. It was like holding a sea shell. Same weight. He left it there for continuous minutes. Our breathing suddenly synchronized. Like if both of us had been born for that moment. I felt like could protect my younger brother against anything. The wind crawled through the semi open window.

The sunset sky has not failed me a single day. Pastel Pink. Flamingo Pink. Peach Pink. Always pink…over the frequent  blue Jogja sky…intercepted by street cables that divide the scenery into small sections. Like a broken mirror.

I have said “mongos” (greetings in Javanese) more than a hundred times. Every time, it comes from my mouth more naturally, unconsciously even. The routine of walking by the same ally’s, the same windows, the same faces, once used to feel foreign to me and today feels deeply familiar. Intimate. I now know that I have been absorbed by the daily life’s of people who are the center of their own universe. My existence, and the intersection of others existences, linger together in the very same moment that Jogja becomes ours. At least for a second.