The sun was sinking into the glassy Bali sea, the clouds were stained pink. The world was glowing, every single thing in my universe was singing out romance. My son was happy, tucked into a beanbag on the beach, the colorful umbrellas had softly glowing lights dangling underneath them, and the small cube tables were lit from within.
The beach wasn’t crowded, the waves were lapping gently, just a little shore break... I sat back into my bean bag, sipped my mojito, and wished just for a moment that the boy next to me was someone I was madly in love with. But he wasn’t. And there was no changing that.
He looked at my son. “Can’t he go swim?”
Luckily, my son didn’t hear him, instead he snuggled in deeper and took a sip of his watermelon juice, and smiled at me, contentment surging through his whole body. Bodhi assumed that I was happy to my core, because, well, really, who wouldn’t be?
But the man sitting next to me was a troubled husk of a boy, kind and well meaning, but unplugged and without depth, there was no soul for me in there. A Balinese kid sat down at the microphone and began to play guitar, a catchy, romantic song I hadn’t heard before. A tourist girl came up and started to sing with him.
It was beautiful. “I can’t wait no more no more no I can’t hesitate I’m yours I’m yours” they sang together. I looked at the baseball cap sitting next to me, scowling into his flat beer. I smiled.
“This is a nice song.” I said.
Inside my mind the script of a beautiful movie was playing, where this was my true love, I had found him, far across the sea, he was different than me, different than anyone I had ever met, and I had finally found someone that I could pour my entire heart into.
“I hate it when tourists sing along.” he replied.
Valid point. But she had a great voice and could harmonize well. And the water was warm, and the guys were selling kites, and we were just the right amount of sunburnt. All it would take was a little nudge, after years of heartbreak and a year of healing, I was ready to fall in love.
“Why aren’t you sitting with me? Do you have to keep talking to Bodhi? He’s fine.” was the next inspiring comment.
I let go. I breathed in. I was grateful for this boy, his friendship was a beautiful thing but really, what was I trying to do here? If I have learned anything in the last five years of wishing I have learned that I would rather be alone and happy with myself than compromise my heart and my soul.
Bodhi is half my heart, Ethan is the other half, his brother in America, and there is really no space in my heart for anyone who doesn’t understand, or want that. I’m not just me. I’m me, a mom, a skiing, tattooed mom of two, and I come with my children, whose hearts I would die protecting.
I looked at my friend. He was trying to the best of his capacity, he was already stretched out of his comfort zone, but I wanted so much more. Not from him. I just wanted more in anyone I was going to be with. And I was uninspired to be with anyone.
As the tourist and the Balinese kid sang the song again to the urging of the crowd on the beach, I pulled my knees up into my chest, drained my mojito, and felt a settling of truth that I finally understood.
Skinny jeans and money are not what I am looking for.
I don’t care how many people know you or how influential you are to other people
I do care if you can teach me something about love
I want a heart that wants to cherish mine
I want to give my heart completely
I had believed as a girl that love, real love, full love, big love was true
and when my heart was broken by a man in a helicopter, I stopped believing
I woke up after three weeks of crying on the floor, to my tear stained children, weeping for the loss of their almost brothers and sisters as well, picked myself up and returned to the world
but bitter and broken and unbelieving.
I remember watching Singin’ in the Rain at my sister’s house, and hearing her sigh as Gene Kelly sang to Debbie Reynolds, sweeping her off her feet, declaring he would love her forever.
I was, for the first time, untouched. “Its not real.” I said.
My sister looked at me, shocked. “What?”
I had tears in my eyes as I realized what I believed to be true.
“It doesn’t work like that. Everyone is fucked, nothing ever fits. This is bullshit, propaganda. Its nice, but I don’t believe it. They all have drinking problems, or drug problems, or self esteem problems, or trust problems, or they think that their money means something other than the ability to help someone else, they think... oh shit, it doesn’t matter. I just know that I don’t believe in this anymore, and honestly, its kind of a relief. I’m glad to be free of it.” But a piece of me was sad. I had liked holding on to that romance. I had liked believing that love was the only thing that mattered.
It had saved my life in high school. I had been really, truly, deeply, trustingly in love with a boy named Kris, he had taught me that I was right to believe, connected love made the world glow bright. With that kind of love, we could overcome every kind of hurt.
But that was high school, and the consequence of believing it as an adult was seven broken hearts and a bitter disillusionment that had followed me all the way to Bali where I hadn’t wanted to fall in love, anyway.
I left my country to get away from drama of the heart, of hoping and wondering and being hooked in to hopeless connection. I needed to stand on my own two feet and be just with me, breathe and walk on my feet and look at my heart.
I looked at the boy next to me. Underline, underline. It just wasn’t there. Every time the spark got fanned, he dumped a bucket of water on it, picking fights. How had the drama of my retarded heart followed me all the way to Bali? Where would I have to go to escape it?
There was my answer right there.
It followed me because this was the lesson I needed to learn. This was my Gu. Gu is sticky, it follows you everywhere. You need a Gu remover to help get it off. But I didn’t know how to find a GuRu of the heart.
This song was so happy. The girl singing was about 24, tan, still hopeful. The boy playing the guitar was shining at her, the beach was covered in the thrill of possibility, of romance. And my lesson was staring me down, this was a shimmer of illusion. Love was a lie. All it is is hard work and coping mechanisms that mesh just enough to create a fragile family. I wished I was alone. I wished I was just with Bodhi. That love was real, deep, unconditional.
I’m yours I’m yours...
Would I ever feel that way? Would I ever again feel free enough, safe enough, loved enough, in love enough to feel my love shining through my heart and pouring out my eyes at some man across from me? Would I ever want to look at someone and say “I’m yours?”
The fact that I was thinking about it was an indication that I was beginning to believe it might be possible again. Not today, not with this boy, not with anyone in the near future, but maybe one day, my heart would be taken by surprise, a slow warming, over time, a thawing, and slowly, belief that love like that didn’t have to be the product of teenage hormones, but could include two young boys and the gravity challenged body of me in my forties.
I won’t hesitate no more no more....
It was time to let go of not believing. That was the gift of the wrong boy. This one was not for me and my family. But there might be one. Somewhere, in America, in Bali, in Japan, in wherever he was.
Some small modicum of protection fell off of my heart that night in Bali and dissolved in the sand. I watched couples kiss on the beach, holding hands on the bean bags. I looked at the love shining through Bodhi’s heart, healed already from the loss of my old love, and I learned from him.
It was possible. One day. One day again, I would feel love thick and strong and true and easy, and I would trust again. Trust that my heart would be taken care of, that I had a heart to give, and I would look at someone and say, “I’m yours, I’m yours.”
The sun sank into the sea, and I felt it spread all through me. It was a beautiful, romantic evening after all.