At My Fingertips began as an exploration of the contrasting cultures in New York City and Jakarta from a twentysomethings point of view. As a newly minted twenty year old, I began realizing the major differences between the lives of young New Yorkers and Jakartans. For instance, by senior year, many of my friends at Sarah Lawrence freak out about the future. Perhaps, this reinforces the stereotype that Americans are much more detached when it comes to raising twentysomethings, such as not expecting any of their young adult children to move back into his/her parents' house. On the other hand, many Jakartans also feel the same way, no one is expected to leave his/her parents' house before marriage.
These slight variations, I believe, influence the social dynamic between young adults in New York and Jakarta. One's trajectories change when he/she joins one group or the other. Instead of going on and on about the contrasts between these two pools, I decided to write a novel chronicling a young Jakartans life between the Big Apple and her hometown.
At My Fingertips
I love the hot steam. Somehow, searing hot water is the only way I would feel clean. As I step out of the shower I realize that no one is around. Without Jack or Guntur around, I am suddenly free to act as I please. It’s been eons since I’ve had the apartment to myself. I walk out of the bathroom with nothing but the towel atop my head. The sweltering heat of the summer condones my odd behavior.
As I sit on the windowsill, with my back facing the streets, I thank the universe for placing me in New York City at this specific time. This bustling city promotes liberation and freedom, which, to me, were unavailable in Jakarta. When I came home, a few years back, I faced a world of rules. New to the adult world, I discovered a list of unwritten instructions on how to behave, appear and speak. Coming from a clothing optional liberal arts college in the U.S., I knew that I had to compromise, somehow. And I did, quite well actually, until I didn’t.
I take a deep breathe and exhale, hoping that all of the memories would dispense itself through the air that exits my nostrils and gaping lips. Everything is back in order. I am in New York and I am free to do whatever I like, even if that means walking around my apartment in the buff. Out of the blue, I hear the doorbell rings.
“Wait a second!” I yell, grabbing a bathrobe, before opening the door to find an inflated policeman.
“Are you the woman that sat by the window facing the street a few minutes ago?”
“Mm, yes. What is this about?”
“Do you know that there are families with children living in this area?”
“Yes, I’ve lived here for two years”
“Well, this is a warning, please do not expose yourself, especially when you are fully aware that your window is directly facing the streets. Next time, you will have to go to court. But for now, I’m going to be lenient and leave you with a warning.”
“Thank you, officer”
I close the door and close the blinds. Maybe, freedom and liberty are mere fallacies.
*Author has the rights to publish the photo above