And now I'm coming back to Gili Meno under notably different circumstances. Since I was last here, I've circled the world, settled my divorce, survived my final separation from David, erased all mood-altering medications from my system, learned to speak a new language, sat upon God's palm for a few unforgettable moments in India, studied at the feet of an Indonesian medicine man and purchased a home for a family who sorely needed a place to live. I am happy and healthy and balanced. And, yes, I cannot help but notice that I am sailing to this pretty little tropical island with my Brazilian lover. Which is--I admit it!--an almost ludicrously fairy-tale ending to this story, like the page out of some housewife's dream. (Perhaps even a page out of my own dream, from years ago.) Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years--I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.
My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well--the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.
I think about the woman I have become lately, about the life that I am now living, and about how much I always wanted to be this person and live this life, liberated from the farce of pretending to be anyone other than myself. I think of everything I endured before getting here and wonder if it was me--I mean, this happy and balanced me, who is now dozing on the deck of this small Indonesian fishing boat--who pulled the other, younger, more confused and more struggling me forward during all those hard years. The younger me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying the whole time: "Yes--grow! Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where
I already exist in wholeness and maturity! I need you to grow into me!" And maybe it was this present and fully actualized me who was hovering four years ago over that young married sobbing girl on the bathroom floor, and maybe it was this me who whispered lovingly into that desperate girl's ear, "Go back to bed, Liz . . ." Knowing already that everything would be OK, that everything would eventually bring us together here. Right here, right to this moment. Where I was always waiting in peace and contentment, always waiting for her to arrive and join me.
Then Felipe wakes up. We'd both been dozing in and out of consciousness all afternoon, curled in each other's arms on the deck of this Indonesian fisherman's sailboat. The ocean has been swaying us, the sun shining. While I lie there with my head pillowed on his chest, Felipe tells me that he had an idea while he was sleeping. He says, "You know--I obviously need to keep living in Bali because my business is here, and because it's so close to Australia, where my kids live. I also need to be in Brazil often, because that's where the gemstones are and because I have family there. And you obviously need to be in the United States, because that's where your work is, and that's where your family and friends are. So I was thinking . . . maybe we could try to build a life together that's somehow divided between America, Australia, Brazil and Bali."
All I can do is laugh, because, hey--why not? It just might be crazy enough to work. A life like this might strike some people as absolutely loony, as sheer foolishness, but it resembles me so closely. Of course this is how we should proceed. It feels so familiar already. And I quite like the poetry of his idea, too, I must say. I mean that literally. After this whole year spent exploring the individual and intrepid I's, Felipe has just suggested to me a whole new theory of traveling:
Australia, America, Bali, Brazil = A, A, B, B.
Like a classic poem, like a pair of rhyming couplets.
The little fishing boat anchors right off the shore of Gili Meno. There are no docks here on this island. You have to roll up your pants, jump off the boat and wade in through the surf on your own power. There's absolutely no way to do this without getting soaking wet or even banged up on the coral, but it's worth all the trouble because the beach here is so beautiful, so special. So me and my lover, we take off our shoes, we pile our small bags of belongings on the tops of our heads and we prepare to leap over the edge of that boat together, into the sea.
You know, it's a funny thing. The only Romance language Felipe doesn't happen to speak is Italian. But I go ahead and say it to him anyway, just as we're about to jump.
I say: "Attraversiamo."
Let's cross over.