January 11, 2015

Bali, November

«Taxi, angel ?»

It might sound like nothing, but oh, this is sweet music to my ears. A music that echoes the harmony of sounds already filling Ubud main street : gamelan melodies, bells and chimes, an endless chaos of voices that are both strange and familiar. I sit down on the motorcycle, grab the handle behind my back with one hand, with the other, pat the shoulder of my driver telling him my adress - and we're off. Driving down the streets of Ubud, wind in my hair, the slow rain softly pouring down on us, I could live forever like this. This is my happy place. It's november and I am back in Indonesia.

This month is a tough one to put into words. I'm afraid these pictures won't make it justice either - I apologize. How do I describe a period of absolute, terrifying shift ? I'm always changing, always evolving while I travel, but this month has been the most intense one so far regarding my ability to adapt to my own changes. These days, I am a storm in disguise. I'm all in or all out. I neglect my journal for ten days or spend the night writing by the moonlight. I am dancing in the street or crying in the shower. It frightens me, but I like this process. I feel like I'm unraveling, rising, awakening. I feel like the most fragile and most powerful being, and I know I have to trust that power. It keeps me moving.

It's a rollercoaster, this trip. In the past few weeks, here is where and how you could have found me : getting into a car with a local for a night ride to Ubud ; climbing Mount Batur at sunrise ; getting lost in the balinese countryside with my friend ; eating the most delicious raw food in cafés around town ; kissing a stranger on a moonlit ricefield ; getting mindblowingly drunk/high on Gili T ; waking up at 4 am with the muezzin, lying very still with the whole room was still spinning ; practicing knive skills in a village ; chanting in a circle with yogis ; dancing until the ground was covered in our sweat. Yes, it's been wild, from start to finish. It's been painful, too. For the first time, it felt like I wanted to go home. I remember it well : my first night on Gili T, sitting on the beach, trying to find comfort in the thousand tiny lights the plancton leaves on the black shining sand with each wave, but crying, crying like a child, my head between my knees, because I felt so alone.

I keep on saying goodbyes to more people. My hugs are getting longer, sweeter, more genuine. Often, I'll raise my lips to their ear and whisper sweet nothings as we part. I find myself stroking their hair, kissing their cheek, holding their neck between my fingers. I find them responding to my embrace and lingering in my arms. Oh, give me one more minute of this love, one more delicious, unrefined moment with them. Every one of them heals a different part of me, answers a different question. I can't even write those words without tearing up, because really, they are so beautiful. I am so blessed to have them, even for the shortest time.

The evening before leaving Bali, I walk out of my hostel and through the back streets to my secret ricefield. I stand in front of it and the thunder rolls, bringing the monsoon rain like every night. My black dress is sticking to my bones and my hair is dripping down my back. I raise my arms into the sky and let the rain fall on my face, in my open eyes. And I just start to dance. When I told my friend about this shift I'm feeling, she suggested that I write down simple, key words to describe what I feel, or how the day went. The only word that comes to my mind is this one, in balinese : Indah. Deep, changing, essential beauty.

These pictures were taken in Ubud and Gili Trawangan.

Evening tulsi tea.

A procession passing through.

Ricefield before the rain.

My friend in the water.

Ginger flower in the markets.

Making offerings for the temple.

One morning we wake up and the street is filled with cries of sorrow – this place has gone to ashes in minutes.

Coming back from the temple.

Teachers after a breath class. So much kindness radiating from them.

One of the many salads we had at the local café.

Sweet grandmother.

Night market on Gili T.

A blurry memory.

Getting lost in the hills with a new friend.

Weary feet.

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