Why We Race to The Moon and Beyond

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For the team behind Falcon Heavy
Thank you for giving humanity a great step forward

This is hell. If this is not hell, I don’t know what is.

We should have arrived at Aislinn’s cousin’s rehearsal dinner on time if I hadn’t begged Aislinn to accompany me watch the sun set at the hill nearby before heading there. The rehearsal is going to be held by the beach at 8 pm and now is 7 pm and we are nowhere near the beach at all.

Luck is not around us, I know that. We ran out of gas, right now, in the middle of the road surrounded by never ending rice fields. There is no one driving on this long road other than us. There is no street light at all. Phone signal? Oh you wish! We’re literally in the middle of nowhere! We have nobody to run to! We are surrounded by complete darkness with a faint hint of the moonlight!

“I’m so so so soooo sorry, Aislinn. Had I listened to you, we wouldn’t be stuck here. Had I listened to you, we could’ve had proper dinner for tonight,” I kneel in front of her who sits on the car hood. I bury my face on her lap, too ashamed to look at her face. “I know you love Sara so much and I’m sorry to make you miss her wedding rehearsal. I should be less selfish, I know that now.”

Aislinn doesn’t answer me right away. Instead, she runs her fingers through my hair and hugs me on my head. “I’m a little pissed, but I’m alright. Thank you for apologizing, I respect that,” she says as she caresses me, “Come here.”

She moves like an inch to make space for me. I come up and sit next to her. She reclines and I follow. She’s not hitting me at all, so I think it is safe to say that she’s not mad at me right now.

From below, I can see above us lie a thousand stars, tiny dim dots on the night sky. The moon stands alone, but being that way doesn’t stop it from being the biggest and the brightest among all. Yet Aislinn and I are still surrounded by darkness; the moon and its troops don’t help.

“Do you know that I am actually glad we can’t make it to the rehearsal dinner?” she says abruptly.

“Huh? I don’t know that you’re glad. Instead, I thought you’ll be mad if we don’t make it on time.”

“Mmm not really. I just want to be there for her, but I’m currently not in the mood to meet my whole relatives,” she sighs. “Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but I’m just not ready.”

“Not ready for what?”

“Not ready for their interrogative questions. As soon as we arrive there, distant relative will ask us where’s our child, why haven’t we had one, what are we up to right now, what have we achieved all these years, and else,” she rants, “I’m just so done with those kind of questions. They compare their happiness level to our lives and see at what stage are we in right now. If we’re below what they call as ‘the happy stage’, they’ll tell us what to do even if we’re not eager to reach it!”

“So, you’re fed up with what people think as life standards or basic life goals?”

“Yes, thank you very much for the conclusion!” she shouts. Nobody is around anyway, so that’s okay. “I hate it when they ask questions like that.. I hate it even more if what they ask is what I want and what I haven’t been able to achieve.”

I lie still next to her. She’s right. This world is full of people who compare one and another continuously, endlessly. They judge people’s life not based on what the person have achieved, they judge people by what they haven’t achieved.

“I haven’t done it to you, have I?” I asked. “I don’t wanna be hated by you. You’re the last person I want to hate me.”

She turns at me, her hazel eyes gleamed at me, “No, you haven’t. So far, you’re the person who encouraged me the most.”

Thank God.

“Peter, I think now I know why people are eager to start a new life outside Earth. Remember Aurora from the film Passengers? I think now I feel what she feels. Life on Earth is exhausting, and sometimes we just want to leave it all behind to live on the great unknown.”

“So, say you have a ticket to board on Aurora’s spaceship Avalon, will you still board and leave me here all alone?” I asks.

“No, NO, of course not! I’ll bring you with me, and if I can’t, I won’t go!” she pouted.

…so she chooses me above all possibility, above all chance for her own happiness? Does that mean I’m the one who give her the utmost joy? If she thinks so… I must offer her what she trusts me with.

“Say, Aislinn, after we attend Sara’s wedding tomorrow, after we land back home, will you go on an adventure with me? We can take a break from our jobs for six months and go travel to some places. I can’t promise you five-star hotels on our journey and I can’t promise you that we’ll travel the world right away, but I can promise you that we’ll be happy. We can taste the life we never have ’till now, and if we enjoy it, after some considerations in the future, maybe we’ll shift our life,” I say. “We can redefine happy. How? Do you want to give it a shot with me?”

She looks down, “Do I give you another problem to think of? I feel so selfish just by wanting that to happen.”

“No, you don’t! I think what you say is right! What’s the point of living in the city, chasing a decent life, and by decent is what I mean as what people think decent is, if we get stressed eventually? We need to spice our life up. What do you say?”

“If that doesn’t give us problem, then I think it’s a yes from me,” she says. “Thank you for bearing with me.”

“I have promised to live by you for the rest of my life, haven’t I?”

Above the car hood she then snugs to me. “You know what? Being here, stuck in the middle of nowhere with you is fun. I like this.”

“Tonight is not too hellish then?” I asks.

“Yeah. I think I need an escape from everyday routines every once in a while. And to think about it again, I think all the escape I need is you.”

“So, we’re each others’ spaceship?”

“Yeah, definitely.”

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Parts of Me Were Made by You

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“Hey, what are you thinking?” said the girl who wore long white dress with laces.

“Oh. Um… hey?” answered the girl who wore long black velvet dress. “Right before you came, I was thinking about how gorgeous this dress fits me.”

“You look so beautiful in that dress. I’ve always known that you would be beautiful if you made time to take care of yourself, but I’ve never thought that you will be this beautiful.”

The girl who wore long black velvet dress shrugged. Her palms were sweaty. “Thank you, I guess. Well, I won’t be this beautiful if you hadn’t give me this dress of yours. So, thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sister,” she said with her sweet signature smile. Not too broad, but enough to comfort the disturbed hearts of those who get the chance to witness it.

“I was also thinking about you, you know? I wasn’t expecting to receive this dress this soon. I wasn’t expecting at all.”

“Well, life is full of surprises, I think you already know.”

“Yeah, I do.” But this bitter surprise? I hate it.

“Besides about this dress-and my other fashion items that no longer suits me-I gave you, what thing about me are you thinking of?”

“I was also thinking about your profession. I believe that you’re going to be one hell of a human’s-mind-and-heart healer. You’re so kind and sincere, I believe lots of people will be delighted to have someone like you to talk to.”

“That’s very nice of you to say,” she blushed. “I’ve never known that you’re such a romantic person.”

“We don’t really know each other well, do we? I didn’t really recognize your age until today, I don’t know your future plans, I don’t know whether you have someone on your mind or not. I didn’t even know that you left home for that final test for months!”

“Fair, then,” she said with a nod of agreement. “But you know why I chose to devote my self in the field I studied, right?”

“Sure! I know your reason. I also know the reason why your blog’s background is black, and the origin of your blog’s name. Believe it or not, I still remember that you once want to live in Paris, Marseille, and Lyon.”

Her eyes brightened. “You do know me, after all!”

“Although we barely speak heart-to-heart, I’m your little sister, after all,” she let a downcast smile slipped through her lips.

“You are, and you will always be.”

They stared at each other for a moment. Both drowned in their own waves of emotion; joy, excitement, sorrow… all mixed in one and couldn’t be distinguished. Those emotions blended together and one couldn’t show up alone without bringing the others. They became a new kind of emotion nobody ever named.

The girl who wore long black velvet dress broke the silence. “I love you, you know. I adore you. I admire you. I’m grateful for having a great sister like you.” She started sobbing. “And I’m sorry that we rarely speak to each other, mostly because we rarely make time to meet each other. Sorry for being so distant. Sorry for taking you for granted all these years.”

“Why do you tell me all these now?”

“It’s better late than never. I know that this is very late, but I just wanted you to know.”

“Without you being this blue today, I already know. Thank you for giving me things I need instead of giving me things I want,” she said as she was about to leave. “Just promise me one thing, will you? Take care of yourself. Be bold. Say ‘I love you’ although it makes things awkward. I don’t want you to have this kind of conversation with other people. Let me be the last person you have this kind of conversation with.”

A pause. The girl who wore long black velvet dress couldn’t think of a proper goodbye since they had never had say a proper hello to each other. She hadn’t finished saying hello. And, so, she closed her eyes. She imagined reaching her sister in her arms, hugging her for the first and last time. I will, I promise. Thank you, I love you, and see you later, she whispered in her sister’s ear. She still hold her for another minute and when she was ready, she opened her eyes. Her sister had gone from her sight.

But never from her heart.

in memoriam, seven months later
so that it won’t happen again

and for those who I often talks to
I hope you all realize that I adore you
without me having to tell you

Kalau Hujan

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kalau hujan tak lagi ragu-ragu
jatuh sajalah di jalan setapak itu
basahi bebatuan yang kering
timpa ia dengan nada berdenting

kalau hujan telah bijaksana
hampiri pohon yang berbunga
barangkali ia masih tersenyum
menunggu hujan yang membuatnya ranum

kalau hujan tak perlu lagi menanti
segeralah ia bertamu pada bumi
sampaikan rindu yang telah tersimpan lama
bagi bunga yang berbahagia karenanya

**
Yogyakarta, 21 September 2016
sebuah puisi balasan terhadap “Hujan Bulan Juni” karya Sapardi Djoko Damono

Arranging A Bouquet

Processed with VSCO with e5 preset

“What is love to you?”

I once asked that question to Aislinn out of the blue several weeks before I proposed her. Her sudden facial expression was priceless: amazed yet somehow confused. I didn’t blame her as my question was kinda cheesy that day.

Aislinn put her favorite ice cream sundae down next to her and she gazed at the horizon. The thick and humid November wind blew her hair towards the land as we were sitting facing the sea. She went silent for a while, probably arranging words inside her head. And I was there, enjoying my vanilla ice cream sundae.

Several spoons of ice cream later, Aislinn answered my question. “Instead of giving you a detailed and structured definition of what love means to me, I’ll tell you a story. Well, not really a story, but you’ll get the point!”

“Okay.”

“So, I got this story from my first visit to a flower shop in the suburbs. You must notice that I had never bought a flower before because I didn’t really get the point of buying one. I mean, buying flowers are a waste of money although I’d love to get one,” she said. “Well, however, that evening was different. I had to visit my grandma at the hospital and it was raining cats and dogs that time. My family had already reached the hospital and I’m the one who was still outside. They forgot to bring something for grandma, and so they told me to buy a flower on the way there.”

“I found a small tidy flower shop on my way to the hospital. The place was so nice. Its wooden walls were painted sky blue and it smelled so good. I entered that shop to find an old man sitting on a tall wooden chair with his back hunched. By the time I entered that shop, he was arranging a bouquet-which I thought was for a wedding as it was so gigantic. He was so focused that I was pretty sure he didn’t notice me coming.”

“I approached him and asked him whether he could help me or not. I told him that I knew nothing about flowers and I really need his help to arrange one for grandma. He was really nice and gallant. Within a minute, he picked some pink roses. He asked me whether I’m okay with his choice or not. After I told him I’m totally fine with his choice, he headed back to his work desk.”

I’m not really sure where her story was going, but okay, for her, I’d love to stay longer even if it just for listening her silliest dorkiest stories.

“Before I saw him arranging a bouquet, I always thought that arranging a bouquet was a piece of cake. I thought that everyone can do it. I mean, what’s hard about picking a flower and sticking it together with a ribbon?” she said rhetorically. I could see her eyes was full of excitement like what a professional storyteller has. “But then, the magic happened. I saw him gently cutting thorns from those pink roses. He cut those thorns with full concentration. When he was done, he arranged those roses and cut the stems to adjust the height. He made the stem on the center of the bouquet a little longer so it appeared a little higher. He made sure the leaves that were left on the stem were still fresh and perfectly arranged. After he was done with the roses, he took a strap of pink ribbon and tied the roses with it. He looked at it for a while before giving the bouquet to me. That stare he gave to the flower was like the stare of a mother to her newborn baby, you know, so full of love.”

Aislinn’s tone was telling me that her story was over, yet I hadn’t understand the moral value of the story. “And so?” I asked.

“So, I finally realize that to love is like being a florist. You arrange things so beautifully. You take care of it with your heart. You put all your effort on that beautiful thing to maintain it. However, you must be ready to let it go. You cannot hold it forever. At a particular time you never know when, you must let it go,” she said.

“Does that mean that you’ll let go everyone you love?”

She frowned at me. “Of course not. I’m a selfish florist, I’ll keep those bouquets I have arranged by heart. I’ll be ready to let my bouquets go only when they died or are better off without me,” she answered. “Don’t get me wrong, I really love keeping bouquets. However, if I’m bad for it, I’ll let it go so it has a better caregiver.”

Probabilitas

Morning Coffee

Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Muda-mudi saling jatuh hati,
Yang tak tahu bagaimana untuk mengawali.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Manusia yang pernah saling cinta,
Namun pada waktu yang berbeda,
Hingga rasa itu sirna.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Pemimpi yang membuta dari realita,
Terus berharap bahwa di seberang ada gejolak yang sama.

Atau!
Bisa jadi kau adalah penyaji kopiku di pagi hari..
Dan aku adalah pengikat dasimu sebelum kau pergi..
Bisa jadi kita adalah sepasang insan surgawi.

Atau..
Bisa jadi kita adalah sandiwara terhebat karangan-Nya.

-CA