In the season where family looms large, Keith and I decided to take some time for ourselves. The timeline was predictable: Months before we departed, I held fast to the vision of us living our best lives, unfurled underneath the Balinese sun, having thoughtful conversations, sipping libations from freshly cracked coconut shells. The weeks before our departure we were hunched into C curves over our computer keyboards, grouchy and determined to finish projects that had lingered undone for months. The day before we left, we weren’t speaking to one another at all. A heated argument over the correct number of eggs to purchase from the farmers market before leaving the country for two weeks indicated that there may be deeper issues in our marriage to resolve.
Not having the luxury of a therapist, we pushed on, mainly in silence until familial duty called: we had promised to make a video to send greetings to my uncle for his 80th birthday since we would miss it. That is why, hours before our departure, we found ourselves sullenly avoiding each other’s eyes as we took turns forming the letters of Happy Birthday using only our bodies as a friend filmed us. By the time I folded myself into an approximation of a “D", we were encouraging each other in our respective efforts. When I ended the session with a triumphant “Y" a fragile truce had begun to form.
After a 16 hour flight, where impeccably dressed flight attendants materialized as if by magic to give Keith name-brand chocolate bars (is that a thing?), and I, in an aisle seat vainly tried to have basic requests - a blanket, a meal - fulfilled, we arrived in Singapore. There we shopped a 24-hour department store (this should really be a thing) to replace Keith’s wardrobe that didn’t make it off the plane with us. The next morning, after having some of the BEST tea and pastries I have ever had, we arrived in Bali.
Rising with the sun in paradise, we had a swim in our pool, had a delicious breakfast, and decided to explore the beach. Armed with clear directions: go to the end of the road, turn right, walk for 5 minutes to arrive on the beach, turn left, and walk for 20 minutes, we were on to our next goal, lunch overlooking the ocean. 30 minutes later we arrived at the restaurant, having stopped to take obligatory photos at an I HEART Seseh (our new home) sign. Lunch was marred only by my following the suggestion of a friend who lived in Bali and ruining perfectly fine bottled water with drops of a homeopathic purifier that made the water taste like crushed grapefruit seeds. “I’ll drink it later”, Keith said, tucking it into our bag for the walk home.
Down the glinting black sand beach, we headed, wading through small rivers that originated on higher land and emptied into the sea. Up we climbed on slick rock clusters, dotted with seaweed and tide pools. Finally, we passed behind the Seseh sign and began looking in earnest for our landmarks to guide us home. Just around the corner, we were. Past this promontory. No, a little further. It was like being on the Sahara but with more (undrinkable) water… Past the temple. There they were! The carefully stacked blue boats we were looking for! Right after the low waterside hills where brown cows grazed. Cows? “I don’t remember the cows, do you?” Keith asked as the sun beat down on us relentlessly. And now, with the rising tide preventing us from walking even further in the wrong direction, I had to admit I didn’t. Exhausted and embarrassed, I dropped to the sand bracing myself for an expected comment. I didn’t have to wait long. “Even if we are lost, at least we are lost together” Keith smiled, sinking into the sand beside me.