“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” ~ Orson Welles

I sleep in the oddest places; like the living room couch, the floor beside my bed, and Meulaboh (with all other attributes in mind, being Saudi and well off and high-maintenance, this IS considered an odd place).

I sleep in the oddest fashion. The bedroom door open. The television blaring. The lights all turned on or completely turned off. And there are some weird sleeping settings that I shouldn’t mention here, considering the professional and personal life I’d put in demise if mentioned so publicly like this.

And I do sleep weird. I talk and balk and bark in my sleep. I practice karate in my sleep. And the dreams…oh, man, the dreams…

People were starting to give me the odd look for my public sleeping habits. So last night, I tried to sleep like a normal person. I had my warm milk. Closed the bedroom door. Said my prayers. And tucked my self in bed, under the blankets.

And stayed awake for hours until I had to go to work the morning after.

[The thing with intentionally trying to sleep is that we are also intentionally trying to trust the darkness of the unknown. The act of sleep is the act of letting go of your worries and fear and love and longing. Who – in their sane mind – would do that?]

I tell the people who wonder about my sleeping habits (I guess they’ve become bizarre enough to raise their own inquisitions), that I like to listen to the acoustics. Sleeping with the bedroom door wide open, sleeping in the middle of the big empty house, sleeping with the television and radio blaring, are just indications to how much I love to listen.

Listening provides control over what I know and don’t know happening around me.

Yeah, right.

I keep a tight grip around the acoustics that surround me only because I’m so scared that if I miss one note, one tinker, or one sigh, the rest of the world would move on without me.

I don’t know. Nowadays, the sounds that I hold my breath for are laden with so much bad news. The sound of the biometric door turning, the sound of the elevator arriving on my floor, the sound of the first greeting and salaam…they’re all just a way of releasing the false note:
  • Are you staying?
  • Are you going to hold me?
  • Am I not going to sleep alone again tonight?
  • Am I going to wake up with you on the other side of the bed?

[That’s why trying to sleep like a normal person, tucked in bed and under the blankets, got me insomnia. Because like hell do I trust the darkness and the unknown realms of sleep. Like hell do I feel all right sleeping alone.]

The best sleep I’ve ever had were the ones where I went to be and got up “not-alone”. Do you remember what those were like? When you stirred to consciousness with someone keeping the other side of the bed within your reach? When you woke up to a kiss on your nape, with a tightened hug, or a languid lovemaking to freshen you up?

More than missing going to bed with you, I miss waking up with you.

Don’t you?

I remember last year’s academy awards: In front of the conjugal bed, half dressed, already late for school (I was teaching then), and Reese Witherspoon was holding back tears and accepting a little gold statue.

Few minutes later, when I finally managed to turn the television off, feeling sleek and cool in my fresh clothes and Omnia BVLGARY floating around like fairy dust, the biometric door tinkered and slid, the cats bid me farewell, and I knocked on the neighbour’s door.

And he was there.

His face always lights up when he sees me in these hours.

I sat down by his table.

[There’s always that moment of measuring between us, wondering what one was going to say to the next. Whether or not it was safe enough to say anything at all.]

If things went well between us, just for this moment, we can both manage through the rest of the day fine.

Come to think about it, he committed himself to be there every morning, just for the five minutes of exchanged kindly words and pleasantries.

I have to give him that much.

…what’ve you been doing all night?…
…did you sleep well?…
…are you going to be alright?…
…what’re are you going to be doing today?…
…have you eaten anything?…
…can we have lunch together today?…
…have a nice day, you…
…(a careful kiss on the lips, a calculated embrace)…
…I love you…

I'm always, always grateful that I got out of this one in one piece.
I've been coming home too tired to write stories these days.

The airconditioner at the office is busted, and the logistic manager's out of ideas to fix it. With weather like Meulaboh (tropical, humid, sticky!), it's hard to keep one's spirits up for creativity, and by the end of the day, the only thing that I really wanna do is shower, open a can of beer and vegetate in front of the television until morning of the next day.

[You know exactly what kind of day I'm talking about]




On a higher note, since most of us at work seem to be so miserable from lack of technology-controlled environments, I've started this habit of asking people about some good news.

Any good news.

The sadder and more miserable you are is the more likely that I will ask for good news.


Here's a sample of answers that I've been getting:
"Telkomsel network is working again."

"My vacation is coming up."

"I finished work earlier than I expected."

"The floods in Jakarta is receding."

And my own answer was: "I had lunch with friends today."

Lovely, isn't it?

Positive questions lead to positive thinking. Doesn't always work automatically, but it sets your brain into a state of realistic hopefulness. Good things are always around, the trick is how we can notice them.
****
Oh, and there's a long weekend coming up. Since the Chinese New Year is going to be celebrated on the 18th of February, I'm gonna be out of work (most probably vegetating infront of the television) until next Tuesday.
No, wait...is that good news or bad news?
PS: Love is sent to the folks in Jeddah and Jakarta. I'm miserably, wretchedly, heartily missing you. Can't someone send me some Hummus or Albaik or something?


the ride from Medan to Meulaboh



the view on the way to Meulaboh



The residence...





 
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