I lighted on Bali as a stray eyelash falls to a downy cheek, lingering there awhile before being blown, wish laden, away. Bali is slow, soft and supple as worn leather, full of golden light and smiling grace. Arriving uncertain, unsure and yet familiar; I am filled with anticipation built over a year and a half, brimming behind bright, hot eyes and spilling over into smiles that are first hesitant and then beaming in delighted disbelief.
Bali embraces my restless heart within its own, carrying it carefully in emerald palms as I take bare footed baby-steps into the unknown down roads scattered with flowers and rice. I wander through this island of gods and smiles, feeling my skin loosen and my soul lighten, unburdened as preconception and judgement and ego are stripped from me in layers like clothes I have outgrown. They fall behind me and I walk on, featherlight and free with my eyes blinking wide open.
Everywhere there is water, glittering electric ocean, and I slip between its waves as you would a lover’s sheets. I fill my lungs with air and dive below the surface, outstretched fingers reaching for the coral bed, turning to look back at the surface of a different world split with columns of dancing light. Each night I sleep with the taste of salt on my lips and the smell of the ocean in my hair.
Everywhere there is beauty; perfectly imperfect simplicity. The dappled shade and sunlight flashing through closed eyelids as I drift on the back of a lazily swaying motorbike; the myriad scent of a thousand star shaped blooms carried effortlessly on the warm breeze. The cool, dry silence of a temple, smelling of jasmine smoke and humming with faith. Dust motes dancing lazily, aflame in a shaft of butter coloured sunlight that glitters with deep gold and casts long, honey coloured shadows onto the soft grey stones.
And the green, that unbelievable reptilian emerald, splashed vividly glowing across the horizon, curving into the undulous steps of a thousand postcards.
Here I learn what it is to be alone, to feel fear as a hard knot in my throat and to swallow it down so that I can breathe freedom. Here I wake every morning to a day in which anything and everything could happen, a day spent laughing and exploring with strangers that my heart recognises as family.
Flat on my back I lie, my toes crunching cold night-dark sand, the sky a vast unending bowl above me studded with stars, glittering blue like shards of burning ice, a web of fireflies in a petrol sky. The stars soar and glitter and burn, and I think; that’s life blood sparkling and burning up there. We are all made of stars. And I smile, alone at the beginning of this journey, because I am home.