room #1 is now empty

but I got a new home

valentina citra
4 min readNov 30, 2023
taken from room #1 (writer’s personal doc)

“It’s weird to see room #1 is empty”

I read that in the middle of work. So many tabs opened and the piled up work to do, so I decided to scroll my phone. Then, I read that sentence written by my best friend who stays in room #3.

Jakarta's sky was in blue bright color with some clouds hanging. I wondered; is the sky in Semarang the same blue now? I couldn’t get the answer but the next thing that crossed my mind was that one of my best friends had already moved out of town. She left Semarang. She left room #1.

One of my favorite to do in the office is to look out the window. I love seeing the cars and motorcycles passing by from above. No thoughts, just mindlessly looking down.

Today, Jakarta’s sky is in a dark grey color. I hoped the rain wouldn’t come until I reach my place. Then I looked at the clock on my phone. 2 pm, three hours to go before my work for today ends. Suddenly I miss the time when I could hang out with my friends after our work ends.

I was on my way back to my place. It took almost an hour of bus ride due to the crazy traffic on Gatot Subroto street. I got lucky today since the bus came as soon as I arrived at the bus stop and it wasn’t crowded.

The sky was getting darker. In the street, I could see the trees’ branches and twigs waving. The wind was quite strong and chill. A cup of warm tea would be great, I thought. Again, I was hoping the rain wouldn’t come before I reached my place.

“It’s weird to see room #1 is empty”

That sentence came back to my mind again like the unwanted guest but somehow you don’t mind them coming. Then my mind wandered to room #1 where one of my best friends stayed and the other best friend was in room #3.

I still remember the first time I visited that room. It was clean, tidy, and comfortable with not so much stuff. Then weeks later, my other best friend moved into room #3 and that boarding house suddenly became my escape.

A lot of things happened in that room #1. Those sleepless nights where we smoked our cigs in front of the room and talked about a lot of stuff. The life crisis, our jobs, the latest office gossip, the funny videos they found on TikTok, the hot ‘teas’ on Twitter or X, our family, my dates, our plans to go on trips, etc.

We played the UNO card often enough in room #1. Sometimes we had some cheap alcohol accompany us when played UNO and we’d giggle a lot when someone was unable to do simple math because of the effect of the alcohol. When the night was too deep, I’d just crash in room #1.

Some birthday surprises also happened in room #1, including my birthday this year and theirs. Those weren’t grande birthday surprises. We’d just bought a cake and invited some friends. Then we’d keep the leftover cake in the refrigerator just to have it again in the morning as breakfast.

We spent 2023’s New Year’s Eve in room #1. We had a little feast at that time. We grilled a lot of meats and sausages with chaos in the communal kitchen and laughter in room #1. Of course with some alcohol and cigs too. Then we went upstairs to see the fireworks along with the city lights.

One day, my best friend who stayed in room #1 tried to cook a bowl of fried rice for our breakfast. It turned out bad since she didn’t use yesterday’s leftover rice. We laughed so hard but ate the weird fried rice anyway.

While so many laughs were shared in room #1, we also shared so many tears. There were times when life wasn’t okay for us and room #1 was the witness.

I remember the time when my friend cried and I was there, hugging her while stroking her hair and letting the silence wrap around us. I remember when I had my mental breakdown and I just came to room #1. When I had my worst heartbreak because of that one particular cowardly guy, I went to room #1 so often. The time when the voices in my head were too loud, I came to that boarding house too.

During my short visit to Semarang this November, I visited room #1. My friend changed the room’s layout but it was still the room that I knew, still the room that I felt comfortable. My best friend was there, greeting me with a smile and I felt welcomed.

A lot of things happened in room #1 and imagining that room is now empty or occupied by someone else, indeed it feels a bit weird. Even though when my friend left room #1 I got a new home in other city.



valentina citra

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