Seven Days in Bali: A Dare a Day
Chapter 2 part 1
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Lara could not get much sleep on her first night in Bali. They arrived just after midnight and found a minivan from their hotel waiting for them in the airport parking lot. Everything went smoothly. When they got to the hotel, there was a two-bedroom suite with a private pool ready for them. Laura wasn’t sure if it was the sound of the waves crashing against the shore or the persistent croaks of the frogs, but something made her feel uneasy. There was no doubt the place was beautiful – almost too beautiful. When Allen had booked this place for them he said he couldn’t believe that it cost as much as a single room in a four-star hotel in Chicago. They were excited about having their own private pool and some distance from the hustle of the city. He would have loved this place, she thought as she walked into the spacious bathroom. The enormous bathtub was inviting; everything was in place for the perfect bath – the bath salt, the essential oils, all lined up waiting to be used. She was grateful she had remembered to call the hotel to let them know this was no longer an anniversary celebration. She did not have to deal with a room full of candles and roses.
After soaking in a bath for twenty minutes, Lara decided she was ready to get some sleep. Sleep was a decision now – nothing just happened. Everything took effort. Eleanor had gone to sleep almost as soon as they got to their rooms, and Laura wished she could have done the same. But that was almost impossible. She got into bed, and was grateful to be enveloped in the mosquito net that was to protect her from everything beyond her bed, and mosquitos seemed to be the least of her worries.
She had just rested her head on the pillow when she heard the sound. So that’s where their names come from Ge-cko. Ge-cko. Ok, we get it. You’re a gecko. Now, stop!
She got up and reached for the phone to call the hotel reception. What would she say? There’s a gecko in my room! What would they do? Ge-cko. Ge-cko. It was getting worse. There was another one. The sound came from another direction. Had they left the doors open all day? Was this a Gecko invasion? Allen! You were supposed to take care of this! She had to call them. Or not. “You can do what you want, when you want to.” She heard Eleanor’s words ringing in her ears.
She took out her journal as she realized what her first dare would be. She barely knew anything about something she feared so much. She hadn’t ever really listened to the sound of a gecko. She simply feared them from pictures she had seen or from seeing them from a distance.
She was going to fall asleep. She was going to accept that there were at least two or three geckos in the room with her, and they were not going anywhere. She was tired of being afraid of things that she did not even know, things she could not understand. After all, she thought she knew Allen so well, but she didn’t. She was with him for eight years, looking at him from a distance, knowing there was a rift, but fearing to get closer to understand it. She thought facing the fear would have broken the relationship; ironically it broke and shattered into a million pieces right in the very home she tried so hard to protect.
But when did it all start going wrong? There must have been clues. Tomorrow after the morning Yoga she was going to do with Eleanor, she was going to go through some of the emails Allen had sent her two years ago when he was on a trip to New York. There were signs. There must have been signs. I won’t be coming back tomorrow. There’s a flight delay. She had paused that day – just a pause, looking at those words, but she chose to believe it was a flight delay. Were there more signs? No less than ten emails from that trip and tens of messages. Surely she should have known something was not right. Tomorrow she would go through them all.
She wrote in her journal “Day 1: Dare 1: Face the Geckos.” And to the sound of the geckos, she reluctantly drifted into sleep.
“Laura! Wake up!” It was Eleanor, drawing the curtains. It was suddenly brighter than Laura wanted it to be.
“What time is it?” Laura asked, still feeling sheltered behind her mosquito net.
“Time to get up! We’re going to miss the morning Yoga. It’s 7:15 and we still need to get breakfast before the class at 8. Look at this place! It’s beautiful!” Eleanor pointed out the window – the pool and terrace looked stunning in the daylight.
“Ok. I’m up. Should I just meet you at the restaurant?”
“No. I’m waiting here. Get ready young lady!”
Laura mustered a smile as got out of bed and walked towards the bathroom. “I may not be good company today,” she said.
“No problem. That’s my job.”
On their way to the restaurant, Lara made sure to get the details for the resort Wifi. She could not imagine not having access to the world. She wasn’t sure what the exact reasons were. She just needed to stay connected. But who was she going to talk to? For what purpose? It didn’t matter – as long as she stayed connected. This wasn’t going to be one of those trips where she would only meditate and put her phone away. She needed to do this her way. And she wasn’t ready to silence that phone, and she wasn’t ready to delete those memories.
As she walked to the restaurant with Eleanor, who was wearing a bright long yellow top, and a pair of loose capris pants, Lara felt the need to ask Eleanor a question.
“Eleanor, do you think I look too skinny in these yoga pants?”
Eleanor laughed, “Are you complaining of being thin?”
“Seriously. Do I look ok. Allen always thought I should gain a bit of weight. He said my legs were too skinny. I was planning on doing this weight-gain diet but then …..”
“Lara, listen. You look absolutely fine. If you want to gain some weight for health reasons, then you can work on that. But not because you want to get back at your ex. Not because of what your ex thought of your body. Because of what you want for yourself. But I think you look lovely.”
Lara smiled. There was something about Eleanor that felt like home. It was easy to tell her things, to ask her things, to be vulnerable in front of her. The past year had taken its toll on Lara, not just emotionally, but physically. Despite everything she went through, she tried her best to look ‘ok’. She wanted to be respected for being ‘tough’. She didn’t want people to see her desperation. She felt fortunate that she didn’t have to go work during the past year and had instead found herself several freelancing projects. She loved writing. She worked for several small publications before she decided freelancing would be more suitable for her. It gave her time to do her own writing and the freedom to work from home.
After a quick breakfast, Eleanor and Lara went to their yoga class. The class was on a large wooden platform surrounded by trees; the densely packed foliage framed the platform from three sides. Yet, despite the trees making a kind of enclosure around them, it was so beautiful that Lara wanted to be “trapped” there forever. She took a deep breath and warmed up as they waited for the Yoga instructor.
“This place is beautiful!” Eleanor whispered. “Those trees!”
“Good morning,” the yoga instructor said as he walked to the front of the platform. He looked like he was in his twenties – tall, piercing blue-eyes, and tanned skin.
Laura suddenly felt like she wanted to burst out in laughter. It was a reaction she was not expecting. Of course, she thought. Here I am, divorced after my ex leaves me for another woman, trying to get over him … and of course my Yoga instructor has to look this handsome. If this were a movie, I would …..
“For those of you who are here for the first time, my name is Emilio and I’ll be teaching this beginner’s Hatha every morning this week. Ok, let’s get started.”
Wait. Was he Italian? Spanish?
“Are you alright?” Eleanor whispered. “He’s quite handsome isn’t he?”
“Eleanor! Shhh…he’s going to hear you!” Lara giggled.
Twenty-five minutes later, Lara could feel her thighs begin to ache. She couldn’t remember the last time she went to a gym or a yoga class. She was a regular at the yoga classes in the neighborhood studio, but for months she couldn’t bring herself to go anywhere other than to meet the lawyer or her parents’ house.
“Alright, warrior pose now,” Emilio said as he started demonstrating the pose, then walking around to make sure everyone got it right. “Arms up, shoulder height, parallel to the floor. And don’t look down. You’re looking straight ahead toward the tip of your finger…” He glanced at Lara for a moment and gave her a reassuring nod.
As soon as he turned around, Lara looked down. She thought she felt something, but wasn’t sure what it was. And sure enough, there was something, and not just anything, it was a gecko right next to her right foot. No, no, no. Go away. Go away.
“Look in front of you,” she heard Emilio’s voice from behind her.
What if this gecko gets any closer? What if it climbs up her leg?
“Don’t look down,” Emilio was closer now and she reluctantly lifted her head. He noticed she was looking at the gecko.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “Stay still. It’s just a tiny gecko.” He smiled. It was the first time he smiled since the beginning of class. She wasn’t going to move now and make a complete fool of herself.
“I’m ok,” she smiled and took a deep breath. Face the geckos Lara. Face the geckos.
As soon as Emilio turned around, Lara looked back down. The gecko was still there – it wasn’t moving. It was just there.
Keep looking at the gecko. What are you so afraid of Lara? It’s just a gecko. She then mustered all her strength and looked back up.
She thought again about her relationship with Allen. She never wanted to look too close. But this gecko was harmless, her relationship wasn’t. But there was that same unwillingness not to look closer. The distance was always good. Allen was good – from a distance. Even when she felt something wasn’t right – the days he would avoid her, the moments he would look at her with a hint of something she couldn’t quite explain, the words he would say to her that didn’t feel right. But, she never stopped to look closer. She always brushed it off. Perhaps she thought if she didn’t look closer, it would go away and their relationship would be perfect. But it didn’t go away.
He went away.
Start looking closer. It’s time to start looking closer.
Lost in her thoughts, she realized that they were already moving on to their next pose, while she stood there, arms stretched out, a gecko an inch away, and memories of her ex-husband racing through her head.
But she stood there – still – a woman determined not to break.
End of Chapter 2 (Part 1)
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