Homeward bound....home to/from home.

Posted by Laura Cohn on

Homeward bound....home to/from home.
Floating eastward towards the International Date Line, into yesterday, I woke from a dream 30,000 feet in the air. Between my two worlds, multiple time zones and cultural fragments, the airline ride back is a transition space I often use to begin my re-entry to this world. But waking up fuzzy I gazed out the window into the dark vast sky sandwiched between stars above and below me. How could this be, soaring on top of the galaxy? At first I thought the stars above were simply reflecting on the oceans beneath me; but up so high, this couldn’t be. Staring out into the mystery, it began to dawn on me that we were directly over the South China Sea, one of the busiest sea lanes on this planet, and indeed what I was seeing down deep were hundreds, if not thousands, of lights on board fishing boats and freighters peppering the waters boarded by the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. They were not stars at all, but lighted vessels, forming patterns like constellations mirroring the sky. Once again, I was deeply humbled to realize what tiny creatures we are, as I imagined an Indonesian fisherman looking up at the sky to see the lights of a plane flying overhead filled with 300 souls and wondering about me, as I did about him soaring on the sea.


I am home now, nestled into my house on this side of the world, comforted by the love Bill pours all around me to ease me back into this reality. Daniel is away in Boston this weekend on a school trip with his band playing and touring all about the city, so it is a very quiet home coming for me, one much needed after such a packed three weeks away. I am cold here, wouldn’t take my hat off at dinner last night in a restaurant, convincing Bill and the wait staff that I was now an observant Jew. Just a week ago I was bobbing in the sea at my friend Sarita’s beach, just downstream from the “Tsunami warning tower” that goes off once a month with a pre-recorded warning, much like we get on PBS radio here at home….”this is a test, it is only a test of the national broadcasting system…”. On the 25th of every month, the locals are non-plussed by the warning that goes off just to make sure the system is working. However, I was not non-plussed when earlier in the month, not on the designated day the 25th, the loud speaker blared in fuzzy Indonesian that I could barely make out, but enough to realize that when it continued on the hour all morning long, that perhaps we might not ignore it. My friend reassured me that in deed they were fixing the speaker system, and not to worry. As it was a glorious day, high 80’s, blue sky from horizon to beyond, I succumbed, and swam once again undeterred by the barking voice telling me to head for higher ground. When one can, float in the ocean, ideally without fear.

One more bit of Bali magic to share with you from this year’s journey is a reminder once again of the lesson always present there, that Bali will never ceases to surprise and delight me when I am fully present and open to her. Imagine me, invited by a dear friend to have lunch at a villa he manages, north of Ubud, my home base, about 15 minutes. This is in the middle of a tiny hamlet, not much happening there, like saying I was going to a friends for lunch in Chalfont, not even Doylestown (local reference here). Six of us were gathered for a scrumptious lunch and Kadek mentioned that some other friends were going to be stopping by for a drink later on. Didn’t pay it much matter, as the crisp cold wine, freshly grilled fish, endless pool, and old friends captivated me all afternoon. When the friends arrived, I knew one from around Ubud, an American film maker I had met a year or so back. The other was a Jakarta woman, a film maker as well, and the third a “tamu” or “guest” meaning tourist. Introductions all around when the third guests turned to me and said “Laura, do you remember me?” I was stunned, he looked familiar but I couldn’t for the life of me place his face, and then like a thunderbolt, Oren reminded me that we worked together in Maine at Georges, a summer restaurant I worked at to put myself through college. We hadn’t seen each other in over 25 years, and here we were on a veranda overlooking a palm lined ridge in the middle of Indonesia, some random occurrence. Some call it chance, I call it Bali magic. Love it nonetheless. Be open to it, you never know who you will meet, or meet again.


I will end with that, the magic of being open, with souls lit from above or below, and swimming without fear wherever our path takes us. For now, my path brings me happily home again, and as always, already anticipating next year’s journey back.


All my love,

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