It all started with a lie. I told my friends and family I was getting a connecting flight in Greece for my flight to Indonesia. That’s because the thought of telling my mother her little, white, Jewish-American daughter had a 50 minute layover in Saudi Arabia made my hands clammy. The image of me in the middle of the line to get my boarding pass reminded me of the Sesame Street song about how “one of these things don’t belong with the other.”
Apparently the other passengers were all on island time because everyone moved like sloths as they got through customs and onto the plane in Stockholm, Sweden. I looked down at my phone, and I felt my heart drop as I realized we were 20 minutes behind and still hadn’t taken off. My 50 minute window to switch planes was dwindling.
Fast forward 8 hours later and I had 15 minutes to get my paranoid ass across the airport to my connecting flight. I felt like an anime character with those dramatic lines flying behind me as I ran down the halls with sweat dripping down my back. I caught up to a driver in a transport cart giving a lift to two woman covered head to toe. I gripped on to the cart like someone was trying to pull the last piece of candy out of my hand. Though my blood pressure was running high from stress, I felt like VIP as I zoomed passed the gates and appreciated the breeze.
With no time to spare, I got onto my flight to continue my 19-hour journey, without one minute of sleep. Thankfully, I passed out for 30 minutes in the taxi to Ubud,Bali.
It was hard to close my eyes when everything around me was so foreign. Intricate statues and temples surrounded me, and I wanted to keep every stray dog that I saw through the car window. Still, my eyes couldn’t stay open.
As I walked through the doorway of my quaint hostel, I imagine it looked nothing short of a regrettable walk-of-shame scene. Even so, I was instantly a hit with the workers at my hostel for being so friendly. Within the first 15 minutes I had my picture taken with them, and on request, gave one of them my email to stay connected.
Even though I looked like a train wreck, I started chatting with a guy who had eyes so blue it would make any heart melt. We immediately shared stories about our lives and journey. I was relatively convinced something more would come of it until I heard him say “My girlfriend…” 30 minutes into the conversation.
After that let down, I went to town by myself in the hopes to replace my flip flops that had broken in Sweden the day before. My eyes also carefully inspected every restaurant. I was so hungry, I was ready to eat the first thing that I knew wouldn’t poison me. A sign that said “vegan” was my sign to eat there. I had Indian food at a restaurant with the sweetest workers. Maybe they’re all sweet in Bali. I haven’t been here long enough to know.
I consider myself a loner. I like being alone. Yet while I was eating, I felt lonely. I gave myself time for some self reflection and appreciation for the experience.
I got distracted, and instead of buying shoes after, I got an $8 hour long massage. She told me to take everything off but my underwear which is when it hit me. I haven’t been much of an underwear-er as of late. I asked her if nothing was okay. She didn’t seem to understand, so she was in for a surprise…so I thought. Turns out, I was the one surprised. Her hands went places few do, and she saw more than I realized I was signing up for. Regardless, it was worth every penny and then some!
The sun was setting, so I made my way back to my hostel. I crossed my fingers in the hopes a motorbike wouldn’t run me over in the dark. When I returned, I connected with new people and continued befriending the dreamy blue-eyed dude regardless of him being off-limits eye-candy only.
Now I’m here. Here, the outside air smells rich of soil. Almost like you get closer to Mother Earth with each inhale. Indoors however, I keep getting whiffs of a clean yet unfamiliar scent that I’m still trying to put my finger on. The temples make my jaw drop and the unfamiliarity of it all makes me both appreciate and simultaneously question who I am.
Ahh fuck, a mosquito just flew in my face though. I tried to kill it, and now I’m listening to the adorable Italian girl who sleeps above me spray mosquito repellent. One day in and one day I will never forget.