how you doin’?

on living in the new city, well-being, and being more far from home

valentina citra
3 min readMar 23, 2024
Gatot Subroto avenue, South Jakarta (writer’s doc)

“How you doing?”

Now that I have lived in a new city for a half-year, that question sometimes comes to me. Mostly from my people—my long-distance friend, or my friend who lives in the same city as me but barely meets because we’re both adults who are busy earning money for living paycheck to paycheck.

And my answer to that question, mostly is, “Well, I’m good. How about you?”

That is not a lie or a sign that I get used to that habit of saying everything’s fine while actually, I’m falling apart. Sometimes, I told them that I was tired, or I wasn’t okay, or I missed them.

Sure, living in this city — Jakarta — is not easy sometimes. This city is freaking loud for me who prefers a quiet place. This city is draining my energy more than Semarang did thanks to the hustles.

To be mentally healthy living the daily life in Jakarta and the cities around it is such a challenge indeed.

I guess this is a love-hate

Despite the hustles, the deafening honks, the crazy traffic (especially during rush hour), the face of the city’s governor that is almost everywhere and unpleasing to see because it becomes a visual pollution to the city’s aesthetic, and the fucked up urban planning, somehow, someway, I start to love this city.

To look at the high buildings during my commute with the bus before it turns into densely populated housing while contemplating. To have one of the beautiful city lights. To never run out of interesting events on the weekend. To have a lot of museums, libraries, and art galleries to visit. To have a lot of concerts in a year. To have more choices when it comes to food. To have more third spaces to sit at or just read a book.

I feel like even though this city is taking too much of your energy, this city also gives you a lot of possibilities to recharge your energy. I found myself growing fond of this city — the hustles and the loneliness, the bright side, and the gloomy side.

Far from home

It’s been a half-year here and I haven’t come back to my hometown ever since. Pretty sure my mom always complains to me every time she calls me. She always asks the same thing, “When are you coming home? Why don’t you come home?”. Those questions become more frequent since Eid al-Fitr’ is getting near.

I would casually reply, “I’m broke, Mom.”

Well, let me blame the expensive fees of train tickets. Or airplane tickets. Or bus tickets. Hell, those tickets are more expensive compared to Malaysia meanwhile Malaysia has higher salaries than Indonesia.

Or maybe I just don’t want to come home yet. I don’t know.

Although I miss my mom’s cooking, the freshness of my hometown’s water, the slow-paced life there, and the antics of my siblings, I feel like I don’t want to come back home yet. And it’s not like I despise my home. I’ve made peace with that.

Then in a session with my psychologist, I talked about this. About me who is reluctant to go home but still struggling to befriend this city. She responded with a story about her friend. This friend’s situation is somewhat similar to mine; reluctant to go home and some other shit.

So when my psychologist asked them, “Why do you not come back home?”, the friend replied, “I don’t know, maybe I’ve found some peace in this bustling city.” and for a moment, I was stunned.

Maybe I feel the same way as that friend. Maybe I need to nurture my longing so it’ll grow until it suffocates me enough. Until then, I hope time will be kind to me and my family, along with my people.



valentina citra

a living mayhem with wandering mind | write in ina / eng | @aleviannt_