Last night was the first time in three years I’ve cried because I missed home. I had a craving for fields. Yes fields. And woods. And the smell of bonfires. And strawberries. Summer and autumn sights and smells. So if you dropped me back in the UK right now I’d swear at the cold and the snow and get back on the next plane, tossing my rose-tinted glasses into the bin on the way.
But most of all I was crying for my family and friends.
An email from my brother triggered it. Talk of my nieces and nephews. An email from my best friend too, with the butterfly heart-beating possibility that she might be coming to visit in March. The hope of that being tempered by the possibility she may not, just squeezed my emotions in such a way I burst into tears. OK, there was also the fact of a tax bill I have no idea how I’m going to pay. It had been a hard week.
Hard in that after three years, John and I are still finding our feet here financially. We walked out of well-paid jobs into a life of instability but outrageous potential. To pick yourself up from nothing and get back to a state of feeling comfortable takes a lot of hard work or a lottery win.
Though maybe that’s the point. Maybe ‘comfortable’ is not a place I subconsciously want to reside in. Being uncomfortable makes me work hard, push boundaries, try new things, keep trying new things when the first ones fail, keep throwing stuff at the wall in the hopes that one day something will stick. Would comfortable equal lazy and complacent? It’s a possibility.
My mum asked in an email ‘why not come home?’ and even through my tears (some now of guilt) I smiled and shuddered. Because even though I miss fields and strawberries (Kintamani ones have nothing on English ones) and bonfires and family and friends I could never move back there.
It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t been here. I have days where I hate Bali (the days when I’m told that ‘no your hard drive still hasn’t arrived from Singapore because it’s been diverted via Surabaya and now they’re holding it back until we pay a bribe’…the days when the internet fails for no reason and it takes a week before anyone can fix it…the days when I’m told I have a black magic curse on me) sure. But 99% of the time I love it here. And that’s not just because I don’t have to do the dishes.
I love who Alula is here. I love the world she gets to grow up in – this magical TV-free, advertising-free place where she is so, so happy. Never has a 6 year old child been so innocent. She’s growing into a conscious, kind, generous, empathetic and wildly imaginative child, as at home in a developing Asian world as in a first world city, able to flit between an American and English accent before ordering a juice in Bahasa.
Yesterday she said to us ‘I love living in Bali’ before skipping off to play among the butterflies.
I love that just as Alula gets to be creative and explore her imagination 100% of the time, so do I.
I love that John’s creativity has soared and he’s poured it into two incredible new businesses to inspire others’ creativity and connection.
I love the friends we have made here – all passionate, creative and entrepreneurial.
The word I keep coming back to is creativity. And the more I reflect on it the more I realize that for me, creativity has become a central component of living. It’s one of the main things that now gives my life meaning. Not always happiness that’s for sure, but definitely meaning. I see it give meaning to John and to Alula every single day as well. This is how we live now. We can’t ever go back from that. It’s inconceivable.
Which isn’t to say you can’t be creative in the UK. But it’s a hell of a lot harder. It would be something we squeezed in between going to work, doing the dishes and prising Alula away from CBBC.
This place is where we get to explore outrageous possibilities unfettered and unhindered, supported by the energy and people around us. So no, we’re not moving back to the UK.
While so much potential has been fulfilled there’s still so much ahead of us.