“Another winter day
Has come and gone away
In even Paris and Rome
And I wanna go home
Let me go home” – Home, Michael Buble
People adapt. It’s just the law. Therefore, after six years living abroad, I thought I will get used to being far away from home and would have a new home by now. The truth is, although I have a new place I can refer as home, homesick feeling will always be there. It never gets easier. If any, it gets harder. The missing out feeling, the connection with families and old friends, the fact that you grow apart with some people who used to be very close, the can’t attend all important events of your loved ones… It just never gets easier. Never ever.
When I left the country, I promised myself and my parents that I will always meet them at least once a year. It’s either we go somewhere together, I visit my hometown, or they come to where I live at the time – we promise to meet on a regular basis. It went great so far until 2020: the pandemic era.
This is like a nightmare comes true. My biggest fear of living so far away is that I won’t be able to come home when needed, for example – sick relatives or some other urgent matters. At the back of my mind, I always have this fear of ‘what if our countries are at war and I can’t visit…‘ or ‘what if something really bad happens and it takes me at least 24h to reach home…’. And thanks to 2020, this fear turns into reality. Although nothing bad happens with my family nor relatives, I can’t meet my family at home and it has been more than a year. This covid-19 situation has been particularly hard for my homesickness.
In the early times of Covid-19, I was very anxious and scared. It’s getting better now – thanks to acceptance. I learnt that going home would be a selfish act on behalf of myself as I might contaminate my parents. It may also cause some problems on departure and arrivals: quarantine, country lock down, etc. Therefore, I have been trying to overcome this homesickness in some different ways.
To start, I have a more regular video call with family and friends. I know this is not a rocket science and should be done anyway in any case – but hey – I’m human and sometimes I get lazy too. The fact that no one can meet in person reminds my friends in Jakarta to invite me whenever there’s an (online) meetup. Since they have to move in-person meetup to a virtual meetup, there is no reason why I can’t join, right? I managed to have several virtual hangouts with groups of friends since lock down. I also had a family conference call! My parents agreed to learn how to do conference call as they could not meet any of their child in person. This is such a bless. If it’s not because of lock down, I usually only do an individual call.
Doing video calls fills in my needs to bound and be part of my dearests’ life. It also allows me to speak in my language, which brings me joy. Funny how you never realised how fun it is to just talk without much thinking first.
Having my psychological needs fulfilled, I start to search for my physical needs: Indonesian food. Most restaurants are closed in London so I still can’t get my favorite comfort food from a family run restaurant called Tukdin. I usually come to their place to get mie goreng mamak when I miss fried noodle. It’s one of the best Indonesian/Malaysian fried noodles I’ve ever had.
Luckily, I found an Indonesian restaurant who do pick-up on Saturdays. It’s called Warung Pino and they have mie ayam, sate ayam, and rendang. Gosh! As someone who loves food, having something you’ve been missing helped to ease the pain.
Out of desperation, I even tried to make ayam goreng kuning (tumeric fried chicken) at home. It was my first trial and I was so happy with it. I don’t think it was because of the taste. I think it’s just reminded me of my childhood when my mom used to cook this for us. It’s amazing how emotional memory plays a huge part in our judgement.
I don’t know when this pandemic will be over or if it ever be over. I also don’t know if my homesickness will ever be easier – to be honest, I don’t think it will ever be. However, I learnt how to overcome it and I will hold on strong here until flight are open again and I can finally visit my family in Jakarta.