The dog growls at the door as I slip my key in. The house is dark and quiet. It wraps around me like a cloak. I slink out to the back and strip down to my undies, then rummage around under the back sink and find the Sard Wonder. I run the stick over and over the skids of grass along the back of my dress until they’re whited out, obliterated. The crunch of leaves, flicker of fire and hot breath run across my back and up my spine. The scratches along my arms and legs, the grazes on my palms feel like they’re sticking out like the goosebumps covering the rest of my skin. Shivering and glowing pale in the dark, I run up to my room and dive under the covers into my own smell, my own mess.
Postcards from Indonesia:
Sometimes my concept of myself collides with the reality of myself and the results are, in short, disappointing.
Like today, when I sat on the beach for an hour and a half, trying to make myself brave enough to try parasailing. I’d done it as a child, hoisted in front of a Balinese man, and my overwhelming memory of the experience is of feeling peer-pressured into the whole thing (coming from a generally gung-ho family, with a particularly gung-ho little brother, I felt like this on most family holidays). I remember looking down at the beach and feeling a grizzly sort of terror and irritation at being made to be up there. But now? Now I was An Adult who was capable of Having Fun, even Slightly Risky Fun. Even possibly the sort of fun that involved being hurtled through the air with a parachute some distance above a lurching speedboat. I’d walked along the sand for ten days, watching tiny stick figures hold their arms above their heads, so that in silhouette they looked like cartoon rabbits, and I’d thought, to my vague surprise, ‘I might do that.’ I put it off day after day until this morning, when there weren’t any more tomorrows available. So I sat on the beach, watching predominantly tiny Asian tourists squealing and kicking their legs as they made parabolas in the air, and then pulling down on the side of the parachute strings as they arced back into the arms of seven or eight shouting men.
I didn’t do it, of course. Fun, Brave, Foolhardy me fought a halfhearted battle with Anxious, Overthinking me, the me who can’t get more than three metres up a ladder before the shakes set in, the me who decided that three minutes of possible terror was almost definitely not worth the chances of enjoying the whole thing. I trudged back to the hotel and Googled accounts of people throwing up at 800 feet and parachute ropes snapping to make myself feel better. Which worked, to an extent.