Happy Sunday everyone! Grab a wine and settle in. I’ll tell you a story.
While I was living in Bali I went through a marriage breakup and what would now be described as a mental breakdown due to loss of identity and lack of sense of belonging. To keep myself sane I started writing emails home to my closest friends. At the time I thought they were hilarious and I still think they are. But there’s an underlying tone that suggests I wasn’t okay and it wasn’t until my best friend rang me and asked if I was okay that I started taking my mental state seriously. At the time, I romanticised a Bridget Jonest-esque idea of myself as a way to hold on to any last bit of dignity I could. Then I just thought that since everything else had been thrown to the dog house, I may as well throw myself out too. These excerpts are the beginning of a journey that eventually led to self acceptance.
- You only have a motor bike and you go to the store after work to buy mushrooms for your spaghetti you want to make for dinner. Somehow when you reach the checkout, a cheap 2 litre cask of disgusting Balinese wine has ended up clutched under your arm. You get to your bike and realise that you don’t know how to take it home. So you’re in the car park, shoving mushrooms and onions into your laptop bag, a Kit Kat in your mouth, and after taking the sack out of the cardboard box you shove it and your potatoes into the tiny compartment underneath your seat on the bike. A Bule (whitey) man walks up to you and says, ‘yes that’s exactly what that compartments for – potatoes and wine.
- So you’re living in your two-bedroom apartment above an art gallery overlooking rice paddies. You spend most of your night on the phone drinking wine promising everyone that you’re about to cook spaghetti on your new stove in the kitchen you just spent copious amounts of money setting up but you have no fridge. You really wanted cheese with the spaghetti so you have bought a small packet of grated cheese so not to waste a block or to end up eating only the whole block of cheese for dinner.As the night passes, as the red wine gets drunk (haha) and as the credit slowly diminishes on your phone, the image of you sitting in the corner on the floor in tears crying over the one you left, the one you think you might love and over the one that doesn’t love you, eating the whole packet of cheese because you’re too drunk to cook and you bought a cheese grater for no reason, quickly begins to take over your mind.So you do it, you start dicing the mushrooms and onion, glugging down the wine whilst dancing along to the playlist on your computer. You want a smoke but you need to watch the stove so you light up in the kitchen. Next thing you know Celine Dion comes on and you realise that you are smoking, drinking hot Bali red wine dancing and singing to Celine Dion whilst cooking spaghetti-or some version of it in your kitchen. Finally you sit down to eat it and it is the best tasting spaghetti you’ve ever eaten in your life. Then you pass out asleep on your bed whilst watching Bridget Jones.
- Days later you are so sick you can hardly talk and hardly move. In and out of fever you realise you need Panadol and credit to call a doctor. You force yourself down the stairs to see the family who live in the art gallery below you. You beg them to go and get you Panadol and credit. The Ibu also miraculously brings you a bottle of some potion that will make you feel better. It tastes like water and you are thankful. That night after going to the doctor and getting told you have an acute throat infection, the desperation for having a ciggy kicks in and you light up anyway. You have no tastes buds and you need to eat to take your medicine so you eat a stick of broccoli. This is after evaluating the contents of your ‘esky’ because you don’t own a fridge. You know you will want to cook tomorrow so to save you doing the dirty job the next day you scrape, peel and cut off all of the rotten bits of your veggies so that tomorrow can be a new day. Then you fall asleep watching Bridget Jones.
- You know things will be ok in time because even though it seems more likely that you will die alone and be eaten by Alsatians because you own one, in reality you know after the break up that you probably wont be able to keep the Alsatian so things are really looking up for you in the whole ‘might die alone, eaten by Alsatians and no one knows’ area of your life.
- You’ve been under a lot of stress and you’ve just been to the doctors regarding all of the stress related issues and worst your period just came after only just having two weeks ago. You are tired after being tested at the doctors and after spending a lot of money at the shops. You try to catch a taxi home. The Balinese man approaches you and says ‘hey you want a taxi honey?’ For some reason, you are suddenly an expert in Indonesian and what comes out is something along the lines of ‘don’t call me honey and maybe I’ll take your taxi mate!’ You then spend the next ten minutes explaining to this Balinese man why he can’t call you honey because you feel it is your rightful duty but you don’t really give a shit anyway. At least some male is calling you honey at some point.
- You get home and realise that what you bought at the shops was an expensive amount of make up which is completely unnecessary in a country with a tropical climate as well as a series of romantic comedies including another copy of Bridget Jones.
- You refuse all help from people while you are sick because you need to do it on your own. You realise you are hungry and need to eat food to take your tablets which is the only reason you feel like you need to eat. The only items left after you’ve eaten your only orange, stick of broccoli and carrot, is a potato so you fry a potato up in oil and salt and eat it. You take your tablet and then spend the rest of the day on the toilet.
- You really want a shower, a nice hot shower to help clear your lungs of all of the muck and gunk that has built up in there from lack of love and too much partying. You turn the shower on and the head breaks off and a slow drizzle leaks out cold water. You get the shits and walk off leaving the hose in the bath tub. The bath slowly fills up and eventually the hot water kicks in too. It’s looking good actually, a bath is better than a shower you can lie down. Next thing you know, the Bapak from downstairs is knocking on your door and holding a spanner. You open the door in your towel and tell him to wait a minute. After getting dressed and meeting him at the door again and after he apologises to you for ten minutes, he tells you that the bath is leaking everywhere and he needs to superglue something to fix it.
- You try to make an effort to go back to work. You wash, dry and straighten your hair, put some nice clothes on and start to feel good. Then you realise that because of the type of sick you are, you’re not allowed to wear deodorant. You live in a tropical climate. You drive to work on your motorbike, get off and take your helmet off and your hair goes everywhere. You sit at work alone because while you were away sick all of your friends quit. You spend most of the day in café’s drinking juice and tea and smoking, unaware than you will soon catch an acute throat infection so you couldn’t kiss anyone if anyone wanted a pash-and-dash anyway. There are no benefits to having no voice in your voice box, it is not a husky, sexy voice in fact it is the complete opposite. You sound like a man. But the good side of things is that after the three doses of antibiotics you haven’t got thrush. Not that anyone would think you still have a vagina after hearing your voice. You try to turn the ‘closed’ sign that’s hanging from your neck like a cheap necklace, around to say open but its one of those trick ones that says closed on both sides.
- You get angry at the fact that when you type Celine Dion or Bridget Jones in this document spell-check tells you they should be capitals, but when you type your own name in, Tracie, it thinks you mean trace or trance.
- Everyone is going to lunch with a mutual friend and you’re not allowed to go because your ex is going. You tell everyone that you can’t go because you have big plans that day. Later that day you are sitting in the bath tub coughing your guts up from your acute throat infection whilst Bridget Jones is playing on your laptop which is sitting on the toilet next to the bath.
- You mum rings you from Australia, it’s an expensive call. She flatters you tells you she misses you, and that she loves your blog about Bali; she even printed it off and sent it to nan. Then at the end of the call, tells you that when you move home you have to live near her because you will need to look after her because she isn’t well. Suddenly your one year in Bali, the fact that you just left your husband, and the progression of your writing all comes to a stand off in your head and you think fuck it and chain smoke to the sound of the crickets and frogs, and it goes without saying, Bridget Jones playing in the background.
- The biggest achievement of your day is getting your water fountain refilled. And it was such a big effort. All you had to do was ask the Ibu and give her money, she takes the old one returns with a new one up the stairs and all and replaces it and wont take a tip. Meanwhile, you have had a progressive day because you’re sitting there watching Pretty Woman, wearing your new make up and a recent hair cut, but you’re not watching Bridget Jones.
- Your friends now call you TPL – an acronym for your first, maiden and married last names. This is because you deny being an EPL lady (Eat Pray Love) but somehow it keeps catching up with you. You’re not wearing floating cloth or anything, but you do ride around on a motorbike amongst rice paddies. Also there’s some confusion over you name with the whole impending divorce thing. So TPL it is.
- Finally things are looking up. You don’t feel so lonely anymore because you go to take a shower and realise that a family of cockroaches has moved in to your loofa.
- And that’s it. Thank god for those cockroaches or you may have lost the plot. The lowest form of animal or insect had become a comfort! Well never fear, you tell yourself because you know you have finally moved on now and your mental health has improved severely oh and, a bunch of geckos have moved in too!