My Lonely Planet book tells me you are a hard city to love. I have to disagree.
I’ll admit, the first time we met I was skeptical. You made me all hot and sweaty, and not in a good way. You seemed crowded and busy and dangerous. Peace Corps wouldn’t even let me walk around you by myself. But still, I couldn’t stop thinking about you during our separation.
But then we were reunited after five months. My eyes had been opened. I rode my bike home with a big smile on my face knowing I would see you in a few short hours that September day. Since then, our love affair has bloomed.
Surabaya, you never judge me for wearing sleeveless tops, or knee-length dresses. I can be myself around you.
You feed me Mexican, Italian, Indian and Japanese food. You let me shop for salsa and cheese. You introduced me to my favorite watering hole where everybody knows my name, they serve the best cheeseburgers in town, and the live band always wants me to “sing one more” song with them.
When the AC gets to be too much, your free movie theater blankets keep me warm as I watch a blockbuster in a reclining leather seat in the fanciest movie theater I’ve ever been in. Your malls make me feel like an enthusiastic middle-schooler again, just wanting to hang out where it’s cool.
Your citizens don’t make me feel like an outsider. I can walk down the street without anyone yelling at me or asking me where I want to go. You make me feel at home.
And then there’s Juanda, your airport. It makes my heart beat fast. Going there means I’m about to go somewhere exciting, or loved ones are coming to see me. It’s too soon to contemplate the mixed emotions I will fee the day I go to your airport for the last time…
But for now, Surabaya, I will just say, thanks for being you. Never change.