(the very end of March 2017)
I arrive in Bali close to midnight. With India in my mind and a weary, watery awareness, I am nearly blinded by the beautiful architecture of the arrivals terminal as I step into the night.
My memory is a faded blur of neon lights along twists and turns in the road, the golden warmth of a hotel check-in counter, the elegant decor of my suite, and a magnificent expanse of pillows and sheets. Everything is black, and then I wake the next morning well into the sun’s journey overhead.
I lay in bed for a while, eyes to the ceiling, travel-stunned. Slowly, like a creature coming back to life, I tiptoe to the mirror to wipe away smudged eyeliner, to look at the image in front of me. Between the whirlwind of my time in Rwanda and home, something has changed. I feel shaken up, like rain has fallen into a river and stirred up all sorts of fragments of chaotic emotion.
I don’t eat very much today. I’m sorry to say it, dear readers, but the next few days will be a moment of relapse, a slip on the lines pulling me up the mountain. This will be a challenging time in which I need to look backwards in order to moves forwards.
My body aches from the travel, from hours on a plane with a compromised immune system. My emotional identity, fragile and volcanic as it already is, has gone through a recent transplant. I am dazed, to say the least, and the skeleton of my being feels tired.
The day drifts away. I order some tea and fruit. Everything tastes like flowers. Sometimes, when the cool cave of my bedroom becomes too much, I creep outside onto the ornate balcony. Orchids trail around me, palm trees sway. The pool in the courtyard looks inviting, but I always find myself retreating inwards.
Everything is so beautiful, even in the confines of my room. I already see an essence of Bali’s artistic spirit in the latticed carvings on the wood, the stylized metal wall hangings, and the boxy, yet delicate, layout of the room. Everything whispers of orchids.
I go to bed that first night with the sound of thunder in my ears. I open the heavy wooden doors to my balcony, and the wind whips in. Lightning streaks across the sky as the rain shudders over the earth, and I find myself crying. The skies are deja-vu, an unexpected reminder of an recent night spent enlivened under a thunderstorm of Kenya. I am confused.
These are the invisible days. Only once do I venture out to the streets of Kuta, walking to a mall. It is busy, and humid, and sticky. The streets are neat (at least neater than Kenya and India), and lined with restaurants and spas, or the glamorous gates of resorts. I am in Kuta, where tourists come for luxurious vacations.
I buy some dried fruit, earbuds, and a few little things. The sensory impressions that first introduce me to a place are working hard. I pick up on the aesthetic cues of Bali, the leather jackets, the hot rays of the sun, handbags hanging over the dull shine of the floors, the glimmer of a red or blue motorcycle, the hundred shades of ember roof tiles.
I sleep hard and fast my last night here, in Kuta. The manager, warm and smiling, says goodbye to me in the morning, and with I start I realize she is really the only person I’ve talked to in the past three days.
Then I am on my way to the airport. I roll my suitcase down to where I will be picked up for the next part of my journey: three-hundred hours of yoga teacher training in Ubud.
I have no idea of what I’m about to face.