I have not seen my boyfriend for six months. We miss each other a lot so when an opportunity for him to come visit me opened up, we booked a plane ticket and then boom, five days later I was an ecstatic girlfriend waiting for her man to arrive at the airport. What can be more appealing than reuniting with the man I love? It happened so fast; it felt so beautiful to be around him again, it felt awesome waking up to his face and lie down on his tummy and it felt nice to have your bff beside you when you conquer new places, from the neighbourhood swimming pool to the wet market breakfast kiosks to some magical remote island you never thought existed.
I felt alive again when I saw him walking out the airport gate. From a crowd of hundreds of people, I just spotted him like that, in my mind, my peripheral vision – he was special – I know that that person was him and there was no mistake in that walk, that head, that man, that smile – and to settle right back in his arms was like going home.
And we went home. Here are some reflections and lessons gleaned on our summer experience (based on my perspective):
Traffic isn’t so bad when you go home with someone you love
I learned that it can actually be fun! Spotting weird plate numbers, comparing number plates from various countries we have been to, catching brand new trucks covered in plastic wrap being driven in hordes along the highway – you notice everything and those little things are instantly interesting.
Sharing space is easy with the right person
I shared space with a Chinese woman for a month and a half and it wasn’t easy. I begged my boss and my HR to kick her out. With A, we just rolled into a new lifestyle – new as in rapid change in household roles and space – very easily. I did not feel ill at ease, I was so comfortable around him, it felt LIKE GOING HOME, which is a nice feeling to have when living in a strange place.
Household chores can be a dream
I just have to come to terms with the fact that I can never have skills as that of my yaya (maid) back home. I tried hard, especially this past year when my school rented a house for me, and it was a proper house. I tried to be a domestic goddess, and if I were to rate myself I’d be 5/10 in terms of cleaning the house and keeping it organised. It took effort and having dry skin due to washing dishes. But with A around, I honestly don’t mind. When you have someone who’s grateful and appreciative towards the effort you put in, you don’t mind at all. In fact, you’re motivated to do chores as when you’re alone, you kind of settle to the “it’s just me anyway” and not tidy up. Well, I never ironed my tshirts and shorts until he arrived. #SlobIsGone
Doing mundane stuff is easier, and much more fun
I’ll be honest here. Having him around to show off is great because I feel – as a woman in a very patriarchal, macho society – protected. And because I don’t feel THAT vulnerable, I can relax. A walk to the shop is also much more interesting: the first night he got here, we bought milk for cats and fed them – that’s a life-long memory and I couldn’t have done it alone! I also feel proud just having a guapo boy beside me all the time, haha.
Again, in a patriarchal, macho society, when I am alone, I do feel judged sometimes: I mean one time when I went to the hospital alone, the receptionist asked me where my husband is. So having him around is just a blessing. Oh and I am not one of those women “feminists” who constantly scream equality and so I don’t mind that they always offer the menu to “Mister” and not to “Miss”. Bring it.
Everything is brighter
I know this is personal and has a lot to do with biochemistry and dopamine levels but I’ve said it time and time again: It’s brighter with him around. Bed picnics, watching incomprehensible True Detective reruns, taking pictures of the moon, making scheduled posts online has been a bright and sunny experience for me and what’s the difference? His sunny energy.
Even food is tastier
I have never eaten in a wet market food stall ever and I did with A around. It did not feel any different to eating by a sidewalk in Thailand but for some reason, eating in a shack here feels more dangerous (maybe because of my previous allergy experience?) and having him beside me is comforting, resulting in a great experience. I also cook, and I am confident to say that I can cook pretty okay compared to my home-organising skills – and I can tell you that my cooking greatly improved with him around because he inspires me.
You appreciate more
Separation anxiety is something I still have to work on as an adult. I am not good at goodbyes. Having some time with my man romantically (we always have time for each other everyday but real cuddles are a luxury) to come at a whirlwind and feel loved, and to feel that I belong is a very powerful experience for me at this point in my life. Everything felt so comfortable, easy and happy that when the inevitable end of the holidays come, I can tell myself that hey, I am grateful that I have someone who makes goodbyes hard. So yeah, having separation anxiety makes me grateful: for him, for this opportunity and for this kind of love.
You know yourself better
People say you have to be alone to know yourself. I believe that. On the other hand, I think you have to have company to know yourself too, especially on how you behave around people; and because I have been alone for a long time and generally have a habit of giving zero-fucks to the people around me (how can I when I can’t understand the language 75% of the time? #LameExcuse). Well having my man around me made me realise that I can be very giving and I didn’t know that beforehand because I never had a chance to. He gave me a chance to be me, the real me, because I think when you’re alone, you tend to be selfish. And let’s face it, no man is an island and if you are still going to be a selfish prick even when you have the best person in your life, then that’s different. Knowing that I am a better person around him is a very satisfying experience for me. I know that I’m not a bad person!
You discover new stuff
It’s always a school day with A. For the first time in my life, I had butter on my crackers and it was life-changing. We were having our bed picnic and we had crackers on the plate. On my side of the was the jar of peanut butter and on his side of the bed was butter. We ended up having butter on crackers in the end. He taught me how to make the best mushrooms on the planet. He taught me how to make the best eggs on the galaxy. He showed me how to make friends to a parrot. How does he do it? Love. I know it sounds too Paolo Coelho-ish but it’s true. Love is the secret to better things. When you’re honest, when you carefully craft something to make the recipient happy to get it, that’s love. Love is the secret to developing the best technique in making mushrooms and eggs because you want to make the one who eats it happy – thus you get love. The devotion and attention he gives to the parrot – Percy (the parrot, as we named him) enjoys it and thus he enjoys it too. I never thought of it that way before and I am glad I do now.
Home isn’t geographical
When you are uprooted from your hometown and you return to it after sometime, you get disappointed because it doesn’t seem the same anymore. The truth is, you’re not the same anymore. So you search for your new home, your happy place, your comfort zone. After moving from different cities and countries, all I can say is, he is my home and I know that because I feel at home ANYWHERE as long as I am with him: Hatyai is home with him, Koh Chang is too. The feeling of unease I had with Jakarta is because I know I don’t belong here but when he got here, it suddenly felt like Jakarta was home. It is strange but it is true. I know I sound like a dependent person but I guess I come from a place where being alien is the norm and being alien is an alien feeling to social beings like us, and it just feels good to know you finally belong again, to a person you respect, value and one who protects you.
This article started as a review of the resort we have been in and that was a magical experience. Slowly it evolved to this list, which I think is more meaningful to me because it’s an experience that opened my eyes to what really matters in life and to me. I am truly grateful to have this experience as I know it’s unique and special, and I will carry it, lessons and all, throughout my journey in this lifetime. I am extremely lucky to have Ash in my life, for me to experience love and life like this. My lessons are mine, yes, but I believe love is universal for everyone to understand the ride.