No matter how we choose to live, we all die at the end. Yes, we live, or we’re given the chance to, at least, but sometimes living is hard and complicated because of fear. For someone who spends all his pay checks for flight tickets, my most substantial fear was dying before visiting all countries and cities on my bucket list. Owing to that fear, I traveled ambitiously as if I was racing with death.
Whenever I was up in the air, I knew this heart of mine was made to travel.
One year ago today I returned from my 15-month world adventure. I moved around. From a couch in Gold Coast to a bunk bed in Sydney, from a hotel room in Auckland to a friend’s house in New York City. Every time my friends were on trips and wanted to send me postcards, they always asked for my address as they couldn’t keep up with my whereabouts. As of today, I even still use my hostel’s address in Melbourne as my card’s billing address.
“Forever traveling, never arriving,” said a drunk girl I acquainted on a wintry night in Stuttgart a few years back when she saw an airplane tattoo on my right wrist.
I smiled snobbishly when she said that, cause that was all I aspired in life. We all die at the end, who the hell needs a house full of furniture on our end days?
I, of course, am not the same person I was. I now can swim well, drive cars, love wasabi, and no longer think, feel, and sense the way I did before. I’m not even sure if I still want to travel. And I now fear of dying alone. A broader dream has emerged too: not only do I need a house full of furniture on my end day, I need a house that allows me to feel homesick after traveling for a while. Frankly I don’t know how homesick really feels. I need a building I’m proud to call home.
So I guess that’s why I never thought about buying a house in Indonesia, no matter how many times my mom urged me to do so. Cause I knew in this country, my house would just be a house. Whereas, I dream of a house full of heartbeats. Heartbeats of a dog or two. Of children. Of a husband.
But no man in Indonesia can ever have a husband, let alone a husband and kids, no matter how big of dreamers they are. When I started having those seeds of dream on my mind, I didn’t think I should cultivate them. Nurturing such dream would only cause a heartbreak, and I can’t bear the expense of another heartbreak. But the fear of dying alone, together with that dream, generated something even more forceful: courage.
Bravery, nerve, boldness, grit, whatever one calls the ability to do something that frightens one. Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. This, I believe, is time for my fear to meet its ending. No more homophobic/religious bullshit, no more dreams that cannot make true.
So I pick up the pieces of my heartbreak and shattered dreams, put them in a luggage, and in no time I’ll hop off my plane at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Ontario, with my winter coat and that courage. A courage to give myself a permission to live a big life, to step into who I’m meant to be, to stop playing small. To begin life anew elsewhere. My arrival in Canada will be the day I, as Mark Anthony once said (and I modified), discover that I’m fierce, and strong, and full of fire. And that not even me can hold myself back because my courage burns brighter than my fears.
Obviously when courage happens, doubt follows like an obsessed stalker. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m brave or just insane. I doubted if I should quit my promising career in Indonesia at the risk of never finding a good job in Canada. I doubted if I should leave a handful of friends I’ve got in Jakarta in exchange with zero person I know in the whole wide country. I doubted if I should put my mental health at stake to catch something uncertain. I doubted if Ottawa, the city I intend to reside in, would not crack me the way NYC did.
It was in my best friend’s living room when we drank gin & tonic at 2 a.m. and she’d say, “We’ve hit plenty of fucking walls in our lives. Our fathers left us, I was sexually assaulted, and you just hired a shrink. But you know what, we’re not stopping. I think maybe that’s our best quality: we just don’t stop.”
That bitch was right. Those walls made the soldiers out of us. Out of me. It’s true that no matter how we choose to live, we all die at the end. But I want to live a life worth remembering, even worth bragging. So when I look at the mirror I’d be able to say not only “Damn, I have a great ass,” but also “My life’s dope too.”
Courage, dream, fear, doubt. Every human being should have all four of them, but the first two must always win over the latter ones. Without a dream we’ll never start, but without a courage we’ll never finish. That’s what I’m gonna tell my future children, in our home.
After finding that damn home, the first thing I’m gonna do is probably call my bank in Australia to notify them I finally have an address that’s not a hostel. Then I’m gonna adopt a doodle or golden retriever, or both.
So I’m gonna heal. I’m gonna start again. This dream pulls me back together the way it cut me in half. It’ll make the man in doubt disappear. So if you ask me as a gay man what I came into this world to do, I as a gay man would say, I came to live out loud.
Pic taken by Asyifa H Putri at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA on Nov 23, 2016.