I've been at this hostel on the southwest coast of Bali for four days now, sipping oily black espresso off a gas stove and surviving on cupcakes, rice and curry. It's been a weird week, to be sure.
I came here with the idea to pursue nothing less than a vacation from reality, which was precisely what I first came to the East to pursue 14 months ago, but the first time around I bit off a little more then I bargained for.
Reality, and all of the small, nagging insecurities and frustrations that come with it, can be quite devious. While I island-hopped across Indonesia and the Southern tip of Asia the first time it silently tailed me, but as soon as I was stationary in Vietnam it caught up and pounced. The only way I've been able to successfully dodge it since has been to stay drunk off rice-wine - and that sort of lifestyle isn't sustainable enough to maintain for any real length of time.
So I ended up, roughly a year ago, with the same problems and unanswered questions that I'd had before I left the shores of North America; but in a totally foreign land where I neither understood nor spoke the language and had no hope of finding anything familiar. After sweating and cursing and struggling for a little while I dug a little hole for myself in Saigon, where I could go weeks without seeing another pair of almond-shaped eyes. I sometimes felt that I was standing on the edge of reason and while I wrestled with the existential and pressing loneliness of life in a city of twelve million people who I could not relate to, days, weeks, and months passed by.
Now I sit here in Bali again. Still foreign, yet familiar. I'm drenched in the grinning Indonesian sun and surrounded by other foreigners of all types and stewing in my own fallacious belief that this culture-washed tourist mecca was deliverance, rather than a move from one extreme to another. Western comforts bore me and I crave the edge again, like the tireless, slow plunge of a pendulum towards its antipode.
Luckily, finding the edge is perhaps the only thing I have become consistently accomplished at, so I will continue to hunt here until I still the pendulum or lose my reason completely. For now, and I will be patient.
But my questions remain, always unanswered. And I remain, always questioning.