My attitude towards my days off has undergone a big change since mid-September. That was when our numbers at the Jakarta centre shrunk to 2. Up to that point, taking my 4 days off to go off on a jaunt to some new part of Indonesia was a given. Flying off to another island to see the sights had become standard and I planned my days off with the goal of seeing all the sights while getting in some clean-hotel-room-comfy-bed time. Those were my goals.
The mid-September shrinkage brought with it the conviction that taking 4 consecutive days off was no longer a viable option. I mean, I could do it but I didn’t feel that it was reasonable. Mondays and Thursdays are the busiest days at the centre, with classes beginning at 9 am and going until 8 pm (not non-stop, but still). I don’t think it’s OK to leave one person in charge on the busiest days of the week, and there’s no way to take 4 consecutive days off without including a Monday or a Thursday. So my colleague and I agreed to do no more than 3 days off at a time, from Friday to Sunday. That way, we each only had to cover 1 or 2 classes for each other, while carrying our usual workloads.
With the reduction in consecutive days off came my change in attitude. It made no sense to take 3 days off just to spend 1 day flying off to some place, 1 day cramming in all the sights and 1 day flying back. This is how I came to the decision to keep my most recent weekends off in Indonesia local to the island of Java, travelling to places that are only a few hours away by train. By this time, I was also templed out – I had zero interest in seeing another temple. My goal for my weekends off no longer centred around seeing all the sights from my base of a clean and comfortable hotel room. My goal became getting away from Jakarta, the centre and people for 72 hours, and relaxing from my base of a clean and comfortable hotel room. That was it. I didn’t care to see everything in the vicinity. I only wanted to get away for a few days of rest and solitude.
And so it was that on the last Sunday of October (my mom’s birthday – happy birthday again, mom!) I awoke from my second and final night in Cirebon. I had slept for only about 6 hours but, having slept for 10 solid hours the night before, I should have expected that. Still, I managed to stay in bed for 1 hour more, drifting somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. At around 4:30 am I gave up on getting back into a proper sleep, roused myself and did my devotions, then washed my hair and went to mediocre breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. I took my laptop with me so that I could write and eat at a leisurely pace, since they served breakfast until 10 am.
Just before 10 am, I retreated to my room after arranging my ride back to the train station for that afternoon. I wrote some more, packed my things, caught up with my family, and relaxed for a bit, then checked out of my room at 1 pm (I really should have been out of there by noon but they graciously allowed me another hour). I left my backpack with the front desk and wandered down the road to find some lunch. I could have left Cirebon earlier but I had booked myself on the 4 pm train back to Jakarta because I didn’t want to get back to the centre too early. I wanted to get there in time to say hi to everybody and lock myself away in my room to finish my weekend of peace and solitude.
I had my hotel shuttle drop me at the train station at around 3 pm, then I bought a couple of treats for the journey at the Alfamart there. Lucky thing I did. My 3-hour train ride back to Jakarta turned into a 9-hour debacle of stopping in every station we passed for an hour or more. I have no idea what was happening because every announcement was made in Indonesian. Still, I kept calm and patient, read, Whatsapp’d with my sister and just generally tried to keep my cool. I also spent some time mentally getting ready for the week ahead, which I expected to be pretty intense based on all the Whatsapp’ing that had transpired the evening before (more on that in my next post, I promise). I had started out the journey with my usual happiness to be on the train but the joy of the journey wasn’t with me that night because it just got wearisome sitting on a mostly stationery train.
Still, despite the less than stellar journey back to Jakarta, Cirebon had helped me to fulfil my weekend goals. My time there had been short and simple, but I had gotten exactly what I wanted – solitude, relaxation and uninterrupted time to write, all in a clean and comfortable environment.
One more long weekend down. How many more to go?