Play the song for the atmosphere, and strap yourself in for the story before I became Monkey King, and how I met the woman who changed my entire mindset about life.
UNTIL two years ago I did not have the chance to be creative. Not really. Sure there were Paint document experiments, and Cowboys and Indians, and McDonalds playground adventures. But that was the limit.
“Study law,” Dad said Christmas morning the year I graduated high school. “And you can use it to gain legitimacy in everything you do, particularly among the lower classes.”
“Sure, okay,” I said, only knowing that I would eventually join the family business. Until then I could do whatever I liked, within reason and as long as it brought no dishonour among the family.
“My son’s going to be a lawyer!” Dad later declared at the Christmas family gathering, the olive in his cocktail falling onto a crab in the seafood platter. Everyone cheered and donated money and cheques into a big bowl for “the cause”.
That afternoon I had enough to study at Bond University (Gold Coast) three times over. I couldn’t get out of it even if I had the willpower.
I blame the stress of exams for the breakdown, and the fact that despite study I just couldn’t memorise anything from the textbooks. At some point I thought overseas travel might clear my head. It might have been the combination of the seven Monster energy drinks, three days without sleep, and dad’s cocaine talking.
I decided to go to Denmark. I bought the tickets and discovered a week later (two hours before the flight) that I had booked to go to Denpasar airport, Bali, instead.
I spent the first week in Kuta throwing money around. I spent time at the pool, the market, in bars, in shopping centres. I tried to get “cultured” by going to the beach. I went on an elephant ride and to the safari park.
At some point I stopped in Ubud. I had tea and a club sandwich at a little tea house hidden behind a building on the main road. Some European women with the brown wrinkled skin of having lived in Bali most of their lives were talking about there not being enough volunteers at the upcoming writer’s festival.
A younger woman joined them. She sat down after ordering fish and chips, in Balinese. She was cute. I was lonely. For two weeks I’d only talked to people who spoke broken English. “Can I help at all?” I asked, and a wicked beam was shared between the three women.
After I finished my club sandwich, Chantelle (the cute woman who I later found out was from Sweden) led me to an old filthy room by the side of the road. I helped other interns scrub down the walls and paint it a bright blue colour. In days we cleaned it and electricity was rerouted from a cord to the power-line so computers could work.
I didn’t see Chantelle much but I think by the way she flirted and took my chips one lunchtime, that she knew I liked her. She toyed with that…And though she was beautiful, she was not the woman I dated. She is not the subject of this blog.
The subject of the blog, well, she saw me perform at an eventful performance poetry competition. Which I will tell you about. Next time.