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Finding Christina Helene

I’ve been doing one thing a day that scares me since the day I left Claire in that car at the airport drop off in New Zealand with tears unexpectedly welling in my eyes and uncontrollably falling down my cheeks. I’ve been on planes alone before. That was cake. Even the emergency alarm and airport evacuation didn’t scare me (one cider in.)

My first fear was stepping off he plane, pulling out money and finding my driver to take me to my air b&b. But surprisingly, everything went extremely smoothly. I arrived at my little Ubud home and the first place I’ve had to myself in… seven years (excluding the six months after college when I lived downtown Santa Barbara in that tiny little studio with the black & white kitchen tiles.) This part I was excited for. Really excited. It only took ten minutes for me to miss having company. Go figure. But I really am enjoying it.

My first day here I woke up at 6am to the sound of roosters calling their heads off. Funny thing is, here roosters call their heads off all day long. They only stop after the sun has fully set.

Anyway, that first day my big hurdle was leaving this paradise of a room. I got a wonderful breakfast of banana pancakes, coffee, juice and toast, served to my room. (Of course I was nervous about this too. People be scary.) And then I lazed around as long as I could before I convinced myself that while I partly did fly here to laze alone and write, I also flew here, you know, to see things. So I left my room.

Stepping out of my shaded room with the wonderful tiled cool floor and darling ceiling fan into the 80 degree heat/90 percent humidity and onto the busy, bustling street was a rush of noise, color, smells and overwhelming excitement.

I half wanted to run back to my room and lay on those beautiful tiled floor, but into the wild my feet stepped.
The streets are narrow, too narrow for even one to walk. They are riled in brick and ceramic tiles that jiggle and wiggle underfoot, each step a dare that you wont fall through those broken bricks to China. (Although here I guess I’d just fall home….huh.) The sidewalk pairs itself with scooter parking, dirt piles, construction materials, religious offerings, people and laying dogs who lay so still and despondent as I lightly step over them that I wonder if they are still alive or if they have become themselves an offering to the Gods.

I walked my two feet to the Campuhan Ridge Walk all on my own, having memorized the map and digested all the pictureson Google photos so well I could actually scoff at tourists lost as I passed with a confident gait.
Seeing the rice terraces was stunning. it was confirmation as to why I’m here.

I actually enjoy being surrounded by tourists. Once I get down my long street to the out skirts of the CBD and the tourist throngs rise, I feel more comfortable in my white skin. But I always enjoy staying somewhere more local. More quiet. More real.

After the rice terraces I still had two more hurdles to overcome. I had to eat. I was starving. I know nothing of Indonesian food, I just knew I wanted good, spicy noodles and cheap – not these shops in the center catered to Westerns. This is funny though, I love me a good, cheap joint with photos plastered all over the front. I passed one on my walk to the terraces with a solo girl eating in front, so I went in on my way back. Perfect.

The shop was catered to by a family of omen. The walls were lined with mirrors and something like the Kardashians was playing on the TV. A group of guys in their 20s came in while I was eating and asked if they would be playing the world cup game that night. Not in this joint, buddy. The women here were more interested in grooming themselves in the mirrors in the empty restaurant than in me, which was fine by me. And my noodles were amazing.

A quick stop in the market after that and I was back at my sanctuary, happy as a clam after its first day of school.
The next day I stayed in all day. One glorious day of blogging on my perfect little balcony.

This morning the energy of the place felt weird. I thought it must be because of the full moon. Kali had also told me it’s an auspicious time to be here because of a bunch of ceremonies. But then I found out that Mt. Agung erupted again last night, closing the airport for 24 hours

Last night I had nightmares of going to yoga. I know many people to which places like yoga studios are intimidating. Full of half naked, gorgeous young people walking around on their hands with their feet in their hair. For me, the stress comes from flash backs of my former life behind the desk of a yoga studio. The business of yoga is a tricky one. As hard of a lesson it is to learn that yoga teachers are people too (sometimes with egos as big as a professional sports player or famous actor) is the lesson that most yoga studios can barely afford to keep their doors open. One should pay for classes, or continue to self stretch. Where I worked, the yoga company lost over $1million dollars one year. And this was one of the biggest yoga companies in Los Angeles, the Mecca of US yoga. Still, behind the desk, I was the bad guy who couldn’t give free weeks of yoga to visitors.

I woke yesterday morning in a sweat and a bad mood – wanting anything but a scene yoga studio. I lost touch with my practice for a long while even before I stopped practicing – unable to go to class without thinking work while on the mat – mostly because I was still at work.

So I found myself a smaller, lesser known studio in Ubud and steered as far clear of the Yoga Barn as I possibly could.

I’ve committed myself to a week of classes at Radiantly Alive and I’m sticking to it. To my shock and pleasure, so far so good! For now, for today, this is enough.

My two loves; cats and yoga

**When selecting a yoga studio in a place as concentrated as Ubud of LA or anywhere for that matter, I have a few suggestions. One – like the feel of the place. Does it make you feel calm? Does it have good vibes? Is the staff happy when they talk to customers or among themselves? Does the studio space have good energy? Two – Take one class. Did you like the teacher? If not, there are more teachers at that studio. First, fall in love with the space. For there are a million studios to choose from, and then a million and one teachers within one studio.

After class I went for a wander. I found a pantsuit I want and the stall keeper came over to me. “How much?”I asked her. “$160k” she replied with kind eyes. “Oh, no thank you!” I replied, completely overwhelmed with these high numbers and awkward conversions in my head. I keep getting caught handing someone a 2000 IRD note when I’m meant to hand them a 20000 IRD note. The colors of the two are even too similar for me to distinguish at this point, not like my pretty NZ dollars. “How much you like it for?” she asked me back. To my shock I remembered this country has bartering! Fuck. I can’t barter. Nor can I convert such big numbers in my head. Fuck Fuck Fuck. “No thank you!” I said and ran away.

Tomorrow my scary thing will be walking home alone after dark from class. I know my mom would stay up all night in worry if she knew.

The next day, my new scary thing will be bartering.

Currently reading Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert.

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