Tell me what comes to mind as you read these next words: types of wine. Red. White. Zinfandel. Merlot. Rosé. Any more? Maybe you thought of a few others that I missed.
In visiting any city, you expect a certain amount of grime; a critical mass of humanity in one place nearly guarantees some amount of litter. In a city like mine — San Francisco — this fact is evident in certain places more than others. The primary thoroughfare of Market Street, and the hotel district in the Tenderloin, generate more street debris than, say, the Outer Sunset, a primarily residential neighborhood. As you move further from the teeming crowds, you tend to expect less impact on the environment in the form of human detritus.
It was my second day in Bali and I was eating breakfast with my host, Wayan. I’d arrived the previous night at dusk, and in the morning light of a dawning day I saw new faces walking about the home.
The fantastical fruit pictured above is rambutan, but in Bali I was introduced to it as simply: hairy fruit; in Indonesian, the word rambut translates literally to “hair”. These beautiful, odd creatures grew in quantity at my first homestay in the Balinese village of Bresela. Digging a nail into the soft exterior and pulling out the interior reveals a fruit similar in appearance and taste to lychee: soft, gelatinous, sweet, delectable. For the three days I spent in Bresela, I ate rambutan twice daily, pulled fresh from the tree.
With each temporary departure from a culture of media — one of timeliness and overtime, of texting and collective avoidance of face-to-face communication— and with each subsequent return, I taunt the imprisoned spirit we’ve each caged, one handed down in blood since time immemorial. With each journey: a bloom of color flourishing amidst nature, primal living, and daily reflection. With each journey’s end: a doused flame, the resuming decay of childlike wonder. And as the cycle begins anew, an ever-stronger call to return, lest our spirits wither.