Friday, May 9, 2008

I Heart Starbucks (for sentimental reasons)

Somehow, Starbucks with its many stores have been some kind of private milestone to me – though milestone perhaps is a too strong word to be applied here. It’s because I remember things – special events and particular people – by associating them with any Starbucks store where the said events occurred.

It was a hot evening in June when I met Charles at Starbucks Plaza Semanggi.
He sipped on his cup of espresso while we talked practically about everything for hours, from the coming presidential election to Delon’s phenomenon on the first season of Indonesian Idol to a House of Sand and Fog, a critically-acclaimed film about the tragic life of an Iranian-migrant family living in the U.S. who tried to survive from bits and scraps.
That was when I fell in love with his pair of beautiful eyes and his brilliant mind, such an intelligent guy who at the age of 23, is pursuing his PhD degree on Southeast Asian politics. We met another couple of times, usually at the same Starbucks store until it’s time for him to go back to Australia.
It was in January, the night before my 25th birthday. Before he left, we hugged warmly in front of the same Starbucks that last night he was in town, while the sound-system from a nearby café blared Glenn Fredly’s Januari. Now come to think of it, such a strangely funny coincidence it was.

It was quite a cold November night when I met Renee for the last time at Starbucks CiWalk.
“I’m really sorry,” she said. “But my parents want me to continue my study in The Hague. My aunt has prepared all my needs there. She’s been living in Netherlands with her husband for almost five years now. Well, at least I’ll be safe in trusted hands.”
I remembered looking outside from the wide windows when she told me this, drops of rain blurred my view to the emptied car park.
“That’s alright. It’s for your own good,” I told her while reaching for her hands and holding them in mine, gave her my warmest smile and firmest assurance. “Beside, this is exactly what you’ve been dreaming of, isn’t it? And you surely wouldn’t want to refuse this scholarship. Better not to. You don’t know when you’re gonna get another offer.”
She smiled faintly. “Thanks. I really need your full support on this. I’m glad that you agreed with my decision.”
It has almost been a year now, she promised to return on this year’s Christmas holiday.

I was sipping my caramel frappuccino when Nino and Adrian, sitting side-by-side in front of me, their ice-blended coffees haven’t been touched, broke the surprising news, “We’re engaged now. You’re the first to know this.”
Surprised, I almost spilled out everything from inside my mouth as if I was swallowing some very hot beverage. Looking around us inside this Starbucks CiToS, somehow I found it as quite a relief that nobody seemed to listen to us.
“But …, how come? I mean, when? Would you tell your parents about this? Have you taken this into fully consideration? And would you guys get married? Where? In Finland? Norway? Or the Netherlands? I don’t think you guys ever will. I mean, geez …, that’s such a very big step!”
I have to pause a moment to take a deep breath. Somehow I just couldn’t refrained myself from asking and commenting on that surprising news.
Adrian gave a hearty laugh, “Relax, dude! It’s not that easy to get married with my boyfriend here, not even in those more liberal Europe countries. Beside, this is some kind of our act of passion. I love this amazing guy so much I don’t think I could live without him.”
I didn’t know what to say to them back then, so I just smiled. This happened last August, and it seemed that Nino and Adrian are the happiest dating couple I’ve known today.

I lost my Paris Hilton’s cellular-phone – the type she used in her debut feature film, House of Wax – on my way to meet William at Starbucks Taman Anggrek a week before last year’s Idul Fitri. It was my first experience on being a victim of J-town infamous criminal acts while traveling in a mean of mass-transportation, namely ‘Bis Patas AC’, and I still remember the anger I felt that day my hand shook while griping my iced cappuccino.

It was on Starbucks Trans TV when I first met Happy Salma in person and chatted a bit with her, an actress I respected for her admiration for Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s great works of writing. Most guys consider her sexiness as her most valuable quality, averting their mind from the fact that she actually has a smart brain to accompany her radiant sex appeal.

Starbucks Skyline Building is my top-priority choice for a meeting point when having late-night appointments. It was also the place where I accidentally dropped my tall-sized latte on my new chinos, and where my good friend Barry introduced me to his new girlfriend whom happened to be my first cousin’s ex-fiancé. Two such awkward moments I would really like to forget.

But my most favorite Starbucks store is the one at Sogo Plaza Senayan. It was where I spent hours chit-chatting with my best girl-friend Cindy, in our monthly ritual since the last quarter of 2004. We talked and laughed a lot, shared our moments of ups-and-downs (where she shown me her custom-made engagement ring by Tiffany, w-o-w!!), and promised to keep contact and still be good friends, like forever, even and especially after she left Indonesia for good.
By the time you read this, she’ll probably studying inside her classroom in campus, working her way for an MBA degree, or taking a good walk around her neighborhood, or entertaining some guests over dinner with her husband in their apartment in Gröningen.
I certainly missed spending times with Cindy and hoping that I will find someone new and as merry and enjoyable as her to accompany me in occupying the big bulky couch on the far side corner of that Starbucks store.

I don’t really care whether this story will win me any prize, since I just want to share what does Starbucks means to me, to the people who brought Starbucks into Indonesia, and into my life. And now that you’ve done reading, you know how I will cherish my bittersweet private memories with Starbucks, ... like, forever in my mind.

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