Moments

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Moments:brief periods of time that can be remembered for five minutes, five years, or five hundred years, depending on their importance.

Growing up, I never thought much of moments. I had fun at my 10th birthday party, on all of those horseback rides through the rolling hills of Plymouth, and on the endless number of camping trips growing up. I will never forget them, but never did I sit down to write about them, strap a camera to my neck, or use them as inspiration for some sort of drawing or painting. I didn't know any differently then, but looking back, I wish I would have taken advantage of these moments.

When I was 11 years old, I traveled along the coast of both islands of New Zealand with my mom, great uncle, and great grandma. My mom was adamant about me keeping a travel journal, but after day three, I came up with every excuse in the book to get out of writing in it. At that age, there was no question that I would remember the trip without taking the time to write anything down. I had a mixed CD with Barbie Girl by Aqua in my portable CD player, why would I need anything else? If I have any regrets in my life, that would be one of them.

I found that same journal when I was going through my things back in August, before I said my goodbyes and took off for Chicago. Even reading those three days of writings brought back so many moments that I had forgotten of that time on the other side of the world. It left me sitting in my room smiling with, maybe, a tear in my eye.

I now find myself in Bali, Indonesia, and no, I have not kept a daily journal, but I have been drawing and noting  little moments that  stick out in my mind. I’ve decided to share some of them with you, just as they are written down in my black leather notebook, in black ink that is slightly smeared because it was conveniently soaked by an unexpected high tide. So here they are, brief and simple…

Hearing stories on the plane, from Stefan  (a man in his 70’s from Berlin who has been in constant travel since the age of seventeen). He did not tell us of places he’s been, but lessons he’s learned. His “life partner” of twenty-seven years is also a world traveler, and Bali was their chosen destination to meet up, after traveling separately for the last 11 months. He left us with the words, “Stay in trouble”.

The turbulence.

Spending twelve hours, overnight, in the Taipei, Taiwan airport (an airport that feels more like a giant playplace); freezing, starving, thirsty, and trying to fall asleep. I was curled up in a ball in a booth in the food court, with headphones in, waiting for any place that serves food, water, and coffee to open. When the hour came for restaurants to open, I ordered and was told the bill was TWD 279. Without knowing how much that was in USD, I handed over my credit card because my only concerns were eating and having something warm to hold. Kacie and I laughed about this later.

Admiring the view of the ocean, huts, and beautifully designed rooftops as we were landing in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

Stepping off the plane in Denpasar, as I felt beads of sweat dripping down my arms because I was still in my 35 hour travel attire of black leggings, a flannel, and Doc Martens. It was 90 degrees and 85% humidity.

Driving down dirt roads through rice fields, occasionally stopping for the cow in the middle of the road or the hundreds of motorbikes we were surrounded by.

Meeting Ninie for the first time. She was flying to Japan five hours later, and was rushing around the kitchen to finish baking five cakes and three large boxes of cookies, in her small convectional oven, for a local coffee shop. She gave us cookies to eat, and this marked day one of Ninie cooking for us and telling us to “FINISH IT”.

Waking up in the middle of the night, startled by the sound of people chanting in the field across the way, followed by the screeching sound made by geckos.

Driving a motorbike for the first time in a Third World country. Yes, it is just like the movies- terrifying and intimidating at first, and then suddenly fun, feeling like a video game.

Driving around for six hours, completely lost. For the record, all streets in Bali look exactly the same until you get your landmarks down.

Driving across the island to check on water filtration systems in remote villages, that my boss put into place. We were greeted by families who were overjoyed to be welcoming us into their homes. We all sat together in a small hut drinking coffee and eating cakes, chicken, rice, and candies they had made in a small kitchen close by.

Coming face to face with the other house guest, a five legged spider bigger than the size of my fist. This is reason I do not use the restroom downstairs.

Realizing Ninie’s two cats, Cat and Minou (meaning kitty in French), have the same personalities as Kacie and I.

Attending our first yoga class in Indonesia. The teacher was an old Balinese man. It was the best class I have ever attended, until Savasana, when he drew out his tone of his voice and told us to, “Relax...Feel your body...Feel your internal organs relax…”. By no surprise, I laughed the whole time.

Attending our second yoga class in Indonesia. I looked over to see the teacher using Kacie as a human ragdoll. She was lying on the ground, when he came over and grabbed her legs to cross them. Then he took her head and suddenly she was in a headstand.

Being attacked by thousands of flying ants in our living room, then running upstairs to be attacked by bats. Finally finding a way to leave the house and were charged by a herd of wild cows in our driveway.

Making our way to Ubud and seeing the endless green rice fields.

The many moments of deep conversation Kacie and I have on our motorbike. It seems that our most revealing thoughts happen while driving around Bali on that motorbike, and we always find ourselves yelling about them to each other, over the loud sounds of the streets.

Showing up a Deus Ex Machina on Halloween to be the only two dressed up. We were then taken to the back room by the manager to have our faces painted. After we were brought on stage in front of about one hundred people, to be announced as the winners of the costume contest.

Falling off the motorbike.

Taking the road less driven by Westerners, to find a remote beach. We were the only ones there besides fishermen and two locals doing some sort of healing ritual.

Passing by temples, seeing the beauty of them and the people inside, hearing the sounds of bells and chants.

Mistaking some sort of bacteria illness as Dengue Fever, and taking all sorts of natural Balinese remedies, given by Ninie, to cure it.

The four trips we had to take to the Immigration office, which is conveniently located just short of an hour from us.

Our many morning runs to the beach.

Realizing that this place really feels like home, which is not a feeling I get often.

Designing the Mercy Machines logo.

Sitting on the porch, working, at Deus Ex Machina, to witness the first rain of the rainy season. The Balinese people have been staring up at the blue skies for months, awaiting this moment, so it brought a feeling of happiness to everyone around.

Bali has been a place of healing for bothKacie and I; as they say, there is just something in the air here. I have had both highs and lows through work and personal things, but I find comfort in stopping, looking around, and taking in the individuals, culture, and promise I am surrounded with. So if I have any advice from this little island in the middle of the Bali Sea and Indian Ocean, it would be to get it on paper. All of it. 

Student BlogsAlexandria Duke