Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
In Bali With Baggage: A Massage
[read earlier parts of "In Bali With Baggage" here]
Because they're so cheap and good, I find myself wandering from massage to massage. I walk out of one and right into the next, like I'm trick-or-treating. In the Balinese style of massage, the masseuse gets up on the small of your back and rides you like a horse – a nice horse that has worked hard in the field all day and has earned his massage. And where as in Canada, I am viewed as pasty, here my whiteness is celebrated.
"My, how white you are, Mr. Jonathan," they say after I've returned from an entire day sweating like a rotisserie chicken in the sun. And they are right. But rather than seeing me as some old white whale of a man in a Coen Brothers film, they see me as a delicate white flower – mid-'70s David Bowie.
I'm halfway through probably the worst massage I've ever gotten by one of the prettiest women I've ever been undressed in front of, a woman named Sara, when she stops all together and starts telling me her romantic troubles, the story of a British man who broke her heart. She's been waiting for him to come back to Bali for going on two years. He sends her gifts in the mail, like the necklace she's wearing.
"I don't care about money," she says. "I care about love."
"I was stupid," she said.
She tells me about all the weight she lost out of lovesickness, how worried her mother was. She is 23 years old and, if I'm to believe it, today is her birthday.
If she is scamming me, setting out some kind of love trap, then it's the long scam, the relationship scam. And it can hardly even be called a scam since it's being executed so little kid-like. She's telling me she believes in love, of all things, and she tells me this while looking into my eyes.
Lying there prone, hands behind my head, listening to her, I can't help thinking that, if I had the guts, right now, this moment, could be the one where my whole life changes. It is indeed possible for me to extend my trip and court Sara. It is indeed possible that I could propose to her and, if I got really lucky, marry her and then bring her back with me to Canada. It is indeed possible to then have a pretty wife to call me Mr. Jonathan and compliment me on the wonderful whiteness of my skin. I mean, it couldn't turn out any worse than some of my previous relationships – relationships where we had "things in common" and "spoke the same language." Possibility fills the room like sunlight. But then my time to dream is up. Sara has another customer to handle like pizza dough while sharing her heartache.
[Check back on Monday for part six of Jonathan Goldstein's series "In Bali With Baggage," or follow the daily-updated thread here.]
[Photo credit: Flickr user HeyItsWilliam]