I’ve been in Bali for the last month. Some of the time I’ve spent alone, writing. Some I’ve spent with my boyfriend and one of my besties. Mostly I’ve been contemplating life, love and nasi goreng in a place I came to call home after living here from 2011 to 2013! I came back, because last week I turned 40. Why do it in the rain when the Balinese skies are blue, and the sun is always blazing?
So this is 40, folks. Only 40 though? To be honest, it feels like I’ve led 1000 lives.
At 15 I asked my English teacher if she had an email address and she asked me “what’s an email?” I still remember what it’s like to hear a phone ring and not know who’s calling. I used to record songs off the radio on my ghetto blaster; too skint to go out and buy the real cassette tapes. I used to think the world was black and white before I was born, because all my mum’s old photos were.
As a kid I read books whilst walking down the street – I was never quite content with being where I actually was. I’ve worked in six different countries, been hired and fired more times than I can count. Once I was fired for working too fast and showing up my boss. Another time I was fired from McDonalds because my friend called them up drunk and told them I died.
I’ve laughed till I’ve wet my knickers (it’s always been an issue). I’ve cowered in my darkest shadows at the mercy of mother ayahuasca. I’ve been chased down hills by monkeys; heard a man get shot in the knees from a bus in Peru, and been rescued by the fire brigade after a dog locked me out of my NYC apartment. (Yes, a dog). I’ve felt invincible, powerful, brave, jealous, hateful, spiteful, naive. I’ve let vulnerability inspire me. I’ve also a let fear steal everything away from time to time.
I’ve lost friends and family members too soon. I’ve recognised real love too late. I’ve puked on my shoe on a first date. I’ve adopted a cat, only to give it away after it pooped on my bed. I’ve done things I’m not proud of.
To thrive and feel alive I always had to be somewhere different. I packed bags and boxes and bags and boxes and bags and more boxes (some of which are still in someone’s loft in Australia) because in my 20s and 30s, life was not about accumulating stuff, it was about collecting experiences.
I broke hearts and had mine broken. But the ones you love and leave along the way are never “left” anywhere. Sometimes they ring your new doorbell and sleep on your new couch and drink all your wine and then “they” leave, and sometimes it’s sad, and sometimes you’re like, why did I tell her she could stay after we only met once, drunk, at a hostel?!
It’s been a wild ride so far. Like many of the Gypsy hearts I’ve connected with along the way, I no longer really need to keep packing bags and boxes… or moving along as much. I write about the places I’ve been and seen in my romance novels, for Harlequin (my next is set right here in Bali!)
I’ve lived in Amsterdam for the last 3 years but it’s taken me longer to learn that Home has always been “here” – wherever my heart feels calm and content. Wherever I let the love in. I’m also just getting lazy and running out of visa options.
But the thrill of not knowing what’s next is still just as exciting. The wrinkles round my eyes are signs of a life spent wetting my knickers, squinting into the bottom of wine glasses, and always choosing to chase the sun. If it all ended now, I’d have no regrets (apart from taking that bus in Peru, and maybe giving the poopy cat away. Poor kitty).
Here’s to another 40 years!