A couple of days into my trip to Bali, I came unglued on my yoga mat during the afternoon practice.
I twisted one way into a pose, no problem. I twisted the other way and it was like someone twisted the cap off a shaken-up soda bottle.
What happened? Who knows. But the effort I was putting into holding everything in my life together — from work to relationships to traveling to Bali to deciding which shirts in my suitcase would not show the inevitable pit sweat in this tropical heat — unraveled. Tears streamed and I wanted to hug everyone.
That was what I went to Bali for — to sweat myself silly in February, to see beauty and beggars on the streets, to lose my shit in an open-air yoga studio surrounded by rice paddies.
After coming unhinged, most things were easier. Baby scorpion on the bathroom floor? Whatever. Power out again, like it is every evening? I’ll take my headlamp into the shower with me, no problem.
One thing was still challenging, though: bartering. In Ubud, the shopkeepers acted out Greek tragedies when you asked for lower prices for goods. Sixty rupiah? Oh no no no … you were killing them. I picked out a silk sarong to wear to the temples — required traditional garb — and tried to drive a hard bargain but still probably paid too much.
Hard-won sarong in hand, I walked to Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest with my mom and a friend. We planned to breeze through the edge; I’d heard the resident macaques were aggressive and just wanted a quick look.
The sarong dangled in a plastic bag as we passed a man pressing his iPhone into a baby monkey’s face for a video. He’s asking for it, we thought.
So was I. All of a sudden, a macaque walked up and grabbed my plastic bag.
Mom started yelling to drop it. That’s what you’re supposed to do, because monkeys have fangs and claws and diseases.
I looked the monkey in the eye. My sarong was in his greedy little teeth — he’d torn through the plastic — and I got possessive.
Mom was still yelling to let go when I grabbed with both hands and pulled and growled low and sharp at the monkey, grrrr!
He let go and walked away. And I remembered that coming unraveled doesn’t mean you lose your fight.