It’s been four days since I got back from Bali, and my mind is just now beginning to normalise. It’s been pretty rough. While I always feel this sense of loss after a trip, I usually spend so long overseas that by the time I come back, I feel a little more ready. This time, the ten day trip was more like a teaser, and the comedown is hard.
It’s funny, the contrast between your day-to-day life and your travel life, and how you don’t really remember the stark differences until you’re here, in this rut. Before I left, I was feeling pretty content. I had been smashing goals I set for myself; I was looking forward to what the future might hold. I had some good news about a potential job, then even more about the trip. Things were finally starting to look up and I was riding on a high (and literally, on my new scooter). Bali was the peak of this cycle – a plateau in paradise – and the uncomfortable overnight flight home next to a gassy mouth breather was the rapid recession. Now I’m here, lying flat on my back in the trough, wondering what the hell I was so happy about before Bali.
Even if I remind myself of the facts, even if I step outside my sadness and examine the situation like a disembodied, objective third-party, it’s difficult to reconcile the lurking existentialism. I know it all sounds a bit woe is me, but this is nothing new, nothing unique. It’s just chemistry. It’s like going through withdrawal. It’s not usually this bad, because it’s easier to slowly wean yourself off the holiday high after spending months on end in a new place.
So, for me, Bali was bittersweet. I loved it there. I loved the people I was traveling with, I loved the new things I tried, the new places I saw. I loved living in the lap of luxury for a short while. I loved that I didn’t get sick, that I got to try lots of delicious food. I loved the sense of community, the raw humanity. I loved the slinky cats and I loved the monkeys. I loved the lingering smell of incense and the colourful offerings on every street. I loved the haggling and the humour of carrying around millions. I loved the ritual, the ceremony, the reverence and the celebration of it all. The overarching feeling of connection, of life.
But now that I’m back in Sydney, in the midst of the aftermath, I have this sense of something missing. It feels like such an impersonal place. It’s easy to be anonymous here. You can walk ten blocks and never make eye contact with someone, never say a word. In Bali, everything is an experience. Every moment is an opportunity for connection. People don’t just look at you, they see you.
I’ve lived here on and off for almost nine years, and it feels like the cycle is coming to an end. I’m ready for big change. I felt the beginnings of this before I left, and now it has landed with full force. I don’t quite know what the change is yet, or when it will happen. But I know that I need it, because Sydney feels stagnant, and Bali reminded me what it feels like to have a zest for life.
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