Well I am in Bali now. I packed up everything I own – all of which wouldn’t fill a Kangaroos pouch – and I’m here. What’s been on my mind since coming back, you ask? Well a lot of things. But mainly the cycle of an expat’s life. Stability. Fertility. And more.
It seems to me that there is a cycle of phases an expat or long term holiday-er seems to go through. In Bali in particular it goes along the lines of:
One: Wow, this is pretty. Welcome to Bali!
Two: Wow I am pretty. I love Bali!
Three: Wow I am the prettiest person in the whole world. Everyone loves Bali – and me!
Four: Oh no, they are prettier than me. Bali sucks.
Five: I am pretty on the inside and that’s all that counts. I’m sick of this island, I’m going to a new one.
Six: Get real! Get down! Bali is an island of Balance and moderation.
Bali is so fertile and I’m not just talking about the growth rate of the vegetation. I mean in personal growth, too. Someone recently explained to me, the concept of our emotions being much like the volcanoes that dominate not just Bali but of most of Indonesia. It is so fertile and intense that emotions, or lava are constantly rumbling and even being pushed to the surface, exploding all over everything and everyone around us. But what I took from this is that when lava flows from a volcano it reshapes the land around it, creating a new foundation. Make what you like of that, I say.
Stability seems to be, ironically, set in yolk. It moves in such a rubbery way without us even realising it and it only seems stable because we tell ourselves that. But everything has energy and everything is moving. Just like that house you built on that rice paddy before giving it the time to dry out it deserves. But who am I to talk about what’s right, about what is stable and about how to call something home? I am from the west where the idea of stability breeds insecurity, social security to the point where it sets dampers down on fertility.
Something like that anyway. So, it takes guts to let you in on this little poem I’ve written here; but, it is important to me because it reminds me of what I have learned about the many phases of living in Bali. But most of all, it taught me about a new “-ility” word: humility.
Girl walks in to a bar:
Mouldy ceiling, sticky floor
Broken mic, hormones galore
Fluro lights, smoky faces
Man in the corner dealing aces.
The darkness awakens you.
Now they know your name
You’ve played the game
You’ve built a bed in the sticky nest
The sticky mess
They’re barely dressed
Smell the sweat, cloud of smoke
Everyone’s drinking, everyone’s broke.
But in the bar see eye to eye
Nose to nose; they never close,
Wife doesn’t know
Bartenders wink, alco’s drink
Slow on repeat
About the loss, about the gain
About that girl, don’t remember her name
Cloud of smoke
Fogs your eyes
Mask the lies
Friends aren’t shy
Lounging in the dim lit corner
Lounging round without borders
Feeling warm, feeling home
The bartender’s friends are those alone
Take comfort in the nest, the sticky chest
Forget the rest.
Sun is rising music has choked
Leave your bill and grab your coat
Hugs to friends; their shift is over
Promise to return and do it all over.
Promise to dance
Promise to sing
Promise to ask how they’ve been
Promise with earnest
Promise for life
Promise the friendship isn’t just scotch on ice.
Bartender tells you your nipple is hanging out.
Girl walks out of a bar.
This poem was recited at both the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival last year, as well as at a poetry slam in Bar Luna. Hope you got a laugh out of it!