Friday, 6 May 2011

a day around town

It always amazes me that by chance, I get to see Marvel movies. I sat through dastardly boring hours of Iron Man and Ghost Rider, cringed at Elektra's anticlimax ending, and decided to stop Daredevil DVD on the thirtieth minute. Marvel movies have that typical mind-blowing setting and effects but completely shallow story line with no character building. And the enemies are just too easy to defeat.

That is the case with Thor. Even with prime stars like Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgaard, Anthony Hopkins, and poor, poor Rene Ruso (her character is even less significant than Winona Ryder's in Star Trek), the movie sucked. It is an action movie, I know, but it is just... boring. Even the 3D effects didn't help. The only time my eyes were wide open was when Thor and one other guy showed some skin. Yum. But the guy who plays Thor looks like he'll do better modelling skimpy underwear.

However, I very much enjoyed my time with my friends here. The four of us, Leo & Gunwoo (two Korean guys), Wei Ni (Taiwanese girl), and I ventured out first to Cheesecake Factory to have a really late lunch. Then Leo drove us to a distant land called Daly City where we met Yoomin and his girlfriend Lorene (both Koreans) and John (Taiwanese) to watch Thor. It was already 9.30 PM when we got out of the theater and drove to a Korean restaurant called Coco Ban near the hostel for supper. I indulged, and I didn't mind, because I enjoyed being with them.

Honestly, I miss going out with my friends back in Jakarta. I miss driving at nights when the flickering colorful lights cover the ugliness of the city. I miss the blaringly loud music and the laughter and the ability of speaking in Indonesian, the way my Korean friends talked to each other and to the hunky waiter at Coco Ban. I miss having to count my money and not spending it easily.

Still, today has been very fruitful. I have friends to laugh with.

John sat next to me at Coco Ban. He just got back from the dentist, and in the USA, a trip to the dentist costs a fortune. So we talked a bit while he ate his rice cake soup and I my vegetarian fried noodle.

"When are you going back to Taiwan?"

"June. For a month. I am sort of avoiding to join the military," he answered.

"Even when you're going to undergraduate school here, you have to go join the military service?"

"Yes. Even if you're gone for more than ten years, when you go back, the government will ignore the fact that you've been gone, and you'll still have to be drafted."

"Will you go to war?" I asked with a rather nervous pitch.


I looked at him, at his smooth, boyish skin and his hair the color of dyed copper. He wanted to cut his hair Korean style, he said, but didn't want Americans to go near it, so he let it grow long; his bangs were covering his eyes. He's only 18 years old, nearly a decade younger than I am. He has his life ahead of him. I cringed at the thought of war.

I know how wars change people. There are homeless people in the area where I live in San Francisco. One of our classmates made a research and he found out that a portion of the homeless people were Vietnam veterans who returned to the USA with damaged mental conditions. The US Government decided to cut back funding to mental institutions some years ago. When the asylums closed down, the patients couldn't find anywhere else to live but the streets. These were the people who fought for the USA. These were the veterans who had to kill to live and suffered because of the guilt.

Under the somewhat dim lights of the restaurant, I saw Leo sitting across the table. He had served in the military for two years, but he didn't have to go to war. He didn't have to lose much of his innocence in glorified violence. I glanced back at John who was slurping his soup. He could only eat soft food, at least for the time being, until his teeth recovered.

"When is your next appointment with the dentist?" I asked.

"Monday. I spent USD 1,800 today."

My eyes were wide open, shocked to hear the staggering amount of money he had to pay for one visit.

"This soup is just rice with water," he complained.

"Like porridge," I agreed.

"I eat like a homeless person."

"No, John, a homeless person can do better," I said, and he laughed so hard that I started giggling.

The wind blew with so much gusto that night that it almost threw me off balance as we walked back to Leo's car. Even with a full stomach, I could feel the bitter cold seeping under my skin and frosting my tropical bones. I wondered if those homeless people I saw sleeping on the streets covered with layers of cloths were warmer than I was.

I wondered if I were ever going to be homeless, wandering around with nowhere to go. No soil to root my feet in. No roof to cover my head with.


  1. i miss you too.