On A Roll: Taking Notes on a Solo Stint in Bali

I’ve taken to writing travel notes this past year. They often last only a moment, a photograph of words. I try my best to be both brief and yet poignant. It is an exercise in writing, and for someone like myself, the best possible way to catalog memory and time. I have learned I see things differently as soon as I move out of a moment, and I am interested in both points of view.

I only took one roll of film in Bali. I foolishly thought I would be able to buy more film there, which turned out to be false. To pair with these images I have dug out my travel notes. More than anything I wrote during my six solo weeks in Bali, these notes feel truest. They sound true to me in my remembering of my time there, of the place, of the person I was being, and why I went in the first place. They are time all sliced up, not fragmented exactly, but rather more like slides… Moments cut down to a molecular language level so one might be able to understand them through a microscope.

My great accomplishment is learning to ride a scooter and striking out in the early morning to find breakfast. The whole place feels wet and dewy, still silent, save for a few scooters and women outside burning trash. I feel still even in my moving, afraid even in my comforts.

I do yoga every morning in a bungalow that overlooks the ocean. My mind tries to wander but I am always tugging it back into place. At the end of class we drink fresh coconuts, and I am sure I was created to feel exactly this way. Sometimes here, I tap into a luscious kind of joy that I have denied myself in the rest of my life.

The entire world here smells of incense, of a boy’s bedroom I knew in high school. Offerings are placed everywhere, thatched together palm leafs filled with dried flowers, candies, and breads. I just saw a flattened frog in the road and then a baby being held by one arm on a scooter as it rushed past me.

There seems to always be the sound of a rooster.

I have never truly been alone. I feel it everywhere. I feel lonely across my shoulder blades.

There are more colors of green here than we have language for.

I am always sweating, always dripping in something sweet, always tied up in the taste of something new.

Sometimes, all I can do is watch.

When you are alone for long enough, the dialogue with yourself becomes much louder. I have never appreciated myself as much as I do right now. I can’t imagine anyone else keeping my company for so long.

Why is it that as soon as we are settled we wish to feel unsettled, to rattle the sediment and change the waters? I feel at home in Ubud, which means it must be time to move on again.

One must always have the perfect playlist.

Time will slow for you if you continually push yourself to remain in the new, to be uncomfortable, to not know where you are going.

I gather a lot of people come here to do some healing. I can feel why that is now.

It is fascinating how a place can be so layered, so folded in on itself. It’s a mystical otherworld of ceremonies and gongs in the distance, of moss-covered statues and old women, all folded into and against the tourists and the motorbikes.

I suppose this is amazing of me. We rarely congratulate ourselves enough simply for pushing through that which we must push through.

I have never seen people spend so much of their lives in devotion. It’s humbling. The woman I am staying with spends every morning making offerings, palm leaves and bits of rice, incense burning. They line the streets and pile up on the temple steps. Flowers the color of tumeric everywhere.

Be still more often.

At night there are celebrations in the streets, a full moon festival that lasts for five days. There is always the sounds of bells somewhere in the distance, and a man’s voice at a fire lit puppet show, and women in lace tops carry elaborate castles of offerings their head with perfect grace like they’ve been practicing all their lives. I eat coconut chocolate ice-cream, and I don’t dream, and I wake up at six every morning to live it again.

Even the nights are hot.

I am exactly the sort of person I always hoped to become.

A long time ago when I thought up this trip it was to get to over someone. But, that feels so far away now and not all why I am here. That longing feels bleached out of me and in it’s place the most delicious kind of wonder at being alive that one could hope for. That, and I am always sweating.

L’Agent Goodies…