Volcanic Nightmare

I sat in a stiff wooden chair, laid my head in my lap and wept quietly. The tears raged out of me with a vengeance and I couldn’t pretend things were ok anymore. “I can’t lose him,” were the words that rang over and over in my head as I prayed for help to every god and dead relative I could think of, even my beloved little grey haired cat Shadow. The appearance of the room somehow made it all worse, resembling the setting of a Sam Sheppard play, it’s dingy drabness helped to make the nightmare that much more real. We had travelled there to see a volcano we would never get the chance to see, already sleep and nutrient deprived I was dealing with this situation worse than I would have had I been 100%. He lay motionless, hair soaking wet with sweat, droplets dripping down his whole body as fast as water from a shower head. “You’re going to be ok, you’re getting better,” I said. Trying to convince him as much as I was trying to convince myself. Feelings of helplessness and loss of control shot through me like lightning bolts as I used every last ounce of energy to hold it together and think of what to do. Constant cold compresses to head and feet as I fought the fire that fought back from within him. “Please drink some more water and juice,” I pleaded. Worried he was dehydrated, worried he would throw up, worried there wouldn’t be a store open when he would be well enough for me to leave again. Part of me   knew he needed rest, the other part wanted to take his temperature every fifteen minutes. Our days were ruled by the numbers on the thermometer, 100 and lower meant a few moments of peace, 102 and higher meant racked nerves and jumping in a cold shower as quickly as possible. The situation wouldn’t have felt so dire if we weren’t what felt like at the edge of the earth or the middle of nowhere. No hospital, no doctors whose expertise I would trust, no security just sheer cold cruel terror. I tried to use any medical knowledge I acquired from having been a sick child, worked in hospitals and having one of the best nurses in the world as my mom. What does hell sound like to overly sensitive ears due to exhaustion and raw emotion? It sounds like a noisy hotel on a busy street with prayers in a foreign language being badly projected over a loud speaker, and fireworks going off at random distances. All this distracting me from what felt like the appropriate thing to do at the time, watch and listen for his breath. I couldn’t read or sleep so it felt like the right thing to do. I needed to be ready if there was a change. If things got worse, I would know right away so I could fix it. Could I? What would I do? Go out into the hall and scream for help? Would anyone come? Would anyone understand me? We needed to get out a.s.a.p. to somewhere bigger, somewhere that wouldn’t make this difficult situation feel even worse. He needed to get better first, so all I could do was wait. Wait and go onto the scary streets once again for more water and the Indonesian version of “Poweraid.” Walking down the street felt like stepping right into the middle of a circus where I seemed to be the starring act. The noise, heat and car exhaust was enough to bring me to my knees; I felt desperate and simply wanted it all to go away. The stares, pointing and laughter made me rush through the streets with my head down and eyes covered. “He needs me; I have to get back there,” were the thoughts that kept me going. The thoughts that kept my body moving as quickly as it could. All nightmares do eventually come to a very vivid end. Sometimes when you’re not actually asleep while having one, it’s hard to see the ray of light shining through somewhere far off in the distance. As I turned my head and glanced out the plane window the whole thing felt very unreal to me, the way the scenery always looks when you’re on a plane. As if it would disappear in a big puff of smoke if I laid my fingers on it a little too hard. Fast asleep next to me he was getting better and everything was going to be ok. When the plane landed in Singapore two tears of joy quietly streamed down my face.
“It’s finally over.”

F.

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Indonesian recap…

So we tried, we tried really hard to like Indonesia.  We gave it everything we had, we did everything right. We followed the rules, paid the fair even when we knew we were paying too much, we smiled when we needed to smile, and laughed in all of the right places.  But Indonesia just couldn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t come clean, its hands soiled from an economy based on what they would call, “Rich people”. Me and my white skin, me and my white skin, me and my white skin.  They would laugh at you right in your face. They would point as if they had never seen my kind before, whole families would stop dead in their tracks, mom lining all of her ducks in a row and pointing that long brown finger in our direction. What could she be telling them?  We weren’t the first white people there.  A group of men chatting in the shade, getting out of the mid-afternoon sun all of a sudden stopped what they were doing, turned their heads to look at me, then bellowed a kind laughter that made your stomach churn.  The instigator of it all then asked me if I wanted to rent a scooter from him as I passed by, as if by not knowing the language I had no idea what was going on.  How could this be?  I’ve been a few places in my life but I have never felt the sense of isolation I felt in Indonesia, as if we had done something wrong and now we were paying the price for it.  Bali could very well be the biggest fraud of them all, forget what you read in “Eat Pray Love”, unless you are actually rich Bali is just an island with a huge chip on its shoulder.  Now that’s not to say it was all bad, because it wasn’t .  We’ve seen some amazing sights along the way. Crystal clear blue water, coral reefs, fish of every color of the rainbow, the coveted sea turtle gracefully floating through the pull of the current, coconut groves and their magic shadows, spiders the size of your fist, a psilocybin sunset for the record books and some traditional Balinese dance worthy of the price of admission.  We learned a lot about ourselves, and what we need to be doing to make the rest of the journey work.  In the end it brought us closer together.

So that’s it Indonesia. Thanks for the 10 hour bus ride with no stops and no bathroom break, thanks for laughing at us and most of all thanks
for taking our money. It’s going to take a lot of it to fix what’s broken there.

B.

The clock is ticking. Twenty minutes to sum up Indonesia, here we go! Do we live in a society obsessed with cleanliness, disinfection and precaution? Are we constantly controlled by the worst scenario possible, do we live in fear of what could happen? Having just left a place where mothers ride motorbikes holding their newborns in their arms and seven-year olds are riding motorbikes on their own, these are the questions that riddle my mind. How much precaution is necessary and where does the line lead into paranoia of what could happen? There is a secret world that exists left unexplored, the only soundtrack being the peaceful sound of my in and exhaled breath. The sights, more than these human eyes can handle, species of colors rarely replicated in life. If you ever get the chance to go snorkelling, please do. You won’t be disappointed. It will give you a regenerated belief in the power and beauty of our world, period. Of this beautiful underwater world where everything is peaceful and perfect. A precious little oasis, for your eyes only to take in.  Those of us who consider ourselves activists in North America need to be moving our message elsewhere. The individuals who have not jumped on the recycling and anti-littering or animal rights bandwagon at home are immune to the message and are lost causes. We need to direct our energy to the places where this education has yet to be spread or is fresh news and try to provoke positive change here where it is most needed. How can we pretend we are helping when large sections of the world seem to have been left out of the loop? Nothing has been able to put a spell on me like the sound of powerful waves crashing magically on a sandy shore. I have seen crystal blue water that has healed me with its brilliance and for that I am grateful. Sometimes we live shrouded by our ignorance and seclusion. We think problems in the world are solved just because we aren’t directly affected by them wherever we are. WOMEN’s RIGHTS are something we still need to be talking about and is a topic that we seem to have moved away from a little too quickly. If there exists a place in the world where men are the only ones acknowledged, where women are second class citizens and speak without being heard, when the bill for a meal is automatically handed to a man assuming he is the one in control of the money, then we have not won the war and we desperately need to still be fighting. Indonesia more than anything reinforced my belief in opposites. There is no black without white, no beauty without ugliness, no good without bad. I’m happy to have relearned this important message.

F.

Toilet Envy

Crash into me. Come watch, I’m diving in head first. My feet
stomp on the unpaved road and with each step I move further and further away
from my fears and insecurities. Will I be able to handle what I find at the end
of this road? YES. The answer is yes. It might hurt, scare, shock or upset me,
but it’s good. Like a spoonful of mom’s medicine, it’s just good for you. So
you didn’t really think it would be all butterflies and rainbows did you?
(Sound of record scratching.) Indonesia has officially kicked me in the ass and
slapped me across the face. I’ve jumped in. I’m being strangled in fact by this
world I’m sometimes too intimidated to get to know. I have found out first hand
where the saying, “Full of shit” has come from. First moment of absolute bone
chilling culture shock, let me introduce you to the squat toilet. I’m not a diva;
I understand things are different in each part of the world, one of them being
the toilets. It’s just a matter of getting used to. Remembering my first
experience with what I now call lovingly, “The Squat” still makes me shudder.
Try to form an image using the words filthy, grimy, sweltering heat and then
add pitch darkness to the mix. All I’m thinking is don’t fall in and try not to
get any on yourself. I was somewhat successful. I’ve never wanted my very own
penis so much in my life! Dearest Comfort Inn from family vacations of my
childhood. How I miss you! Your cool, crisp rooms and pristinely clean white
sheets. Bathrooms you could eat off of and buckets overflowing with wonderful
ice you could actually drink. I will always remember you fondly. The refresh
button has been pressed. I am being reprogrammed like the newest 2012 cyborg
with the most gadgets. Everything that has been ingrained into my brain,
erased. All those years of watching ET! being told big boobs and tanned skin
were the “it” thing. The traditional Balinese outfits downplay curves and flatten
out women’s chests. Can you imagine? Your eye is drawn up to the woman’s face
and especially the eyes. As refreshing as a cool glass of water on a 40 degree
day. Men walking around in sarongs with flowers behind their ears, I love it!
The weirdest thing for me having been called, “Casper” since elementary school,
is that all the face creams for women are whitening creams?!  I’m not even going to go there. Who am I? I’m about the size of your hand and very squirmy. I have little beady eyes that I like to use to watch F. take a shower with. I love to torment F. by popping my little head out when she’s trying to sleep. B. describes me by saying,” It won’t hurt you” and “At least he eats the bugs!” Who am I? F.’s new arch enemy,
the GECKO.

F.

Lucid Dreams in Ubud.

We turned the corner. “It should be down there.  Wait a minute the book doesn’t say this is here.” Before we could figure out what had happened, the decrepit alleyway magically opened up to a palace from our dreams, it unfastened its golden doors and let us in.  The room was overflowing with this wonderful feeling of love.  A light appeared in the center of the golden space, it grew bigger and more soothing, entranced we fell to our knees.  It told us that everything was going to be alright, that our journey will have its ups and downs but our love will keep us from falling apart.  There was a deafening silence through the horns and motorbikes whizzing by all around, it allowed us, if only for a moment, to see clearly from our other eye.  “It’s here,” I said with a smile under my breath, “right here.”  But before I could say it out loud, the palace vanished without a trace and that warm glow that brought us to our knees transcended through us.  We looked at each other in disbelief.  From that moment we both knew this is where we needed to be, right here in the middle of this beautiful place, right here with each other and no one else.

B.