Because everything’s habitual now. I drive to ISI and walk around campus and talk to security guards and call them pak and I’m never worried because even though I’ve only been to this university once before I know I can find things if I ask and I know the road home. I got here and I can get back. I know where north is, even if I can’t see Merapi because of all the clouds. Merapi has become what Lake Ontario will always be—this force of nature in the north, anchoring me in place.
Because I know everything that’s going to happen. Saturday afternoon, I get an SMS about rehearsal that night. No one is going to show up and those who do are going to be late. I arrive late myself, but I’m still early. Only seven girls come, the seven of us under the lights, wooden bows in hand, the newly-sanded grips a little too large for our fists.
Because I know how to handle everything. I’m at my friend’s house and his great aunt is saying things in Javanese and of course I have no idea what but I know how to nod my head and smile in a way that makes it look like I understand. Then later the two of us actually have a conversation—are your parents okay with you being here? do you live alone? I understand her, for the most part, but she’s a new person so I’m not used to her accent and she’s not used to my lack of vocabulary and she’s mixing Javanese and Indonesian so that they run together and I can’t tell where one starts and the other ends. But when things get too confusing, I know I can turn to my friend and he’s right there to tell me the word and this is what it means to rely too much on someone.