Monday, September 6, 2010

Breaking Up With Bali






I tried to write about my summer many times. Ok, that's a lie.
I've thought about writing about my summer many times. Yup. That's closer.

I'll start easy.

My sister's wedding was perfection. Beautiful people. Beautiful location. Family. Friends. Love. All good things.

We spent a few weeks in Thailand. The food was amazing. Seriously good grub. Judah loved chasing fish in the clear, waveless ocean. Tommy and I enjoyed sitting and drinking in the ocean (wait, is it an ocean? I don't think that it is? ok, I give up. Did I say this part was easy?). We met people we now consider friends. We spent time with people we love. All good things.

Tommy left after Thailand. Judah and I spent a few more weeks in SE Asia.

One of those weeks was in Bali.
Bali.
My love.
Tommy and I had spent a week there before. Many moons ago, when we lived in Japan. 7 years ago? Maybe more.
For the last 7 years, I have had a serious love affair with Bali. It is the most romantic place on earth. To me. Everything in Bali is just better. Fresh flowers everywhere, the decor, the people, the food, the presentation, the dance, the music, the art. I can't ever say enough good things about Bali. Ever.

You get it, right? I've been in love for a long time. It was real.

I need to make that part VERY clear. LOVE Bali.

This time.

We broke up.

It wasn't pretty.

It ended badly. I tried to make it work. I did. I know I should have handled things differently.

Bali broke my heart like no boy ever has. It may sound dramatic, but it's true.

I admit. I'm sure part of it was me. I threw out my back. After the first 30 or so steps, Judah would cry "Carry me! I can't walk. I'm too tired." So, I would carry him for the next 1000. There were also toddler unfriendly cliffs and large cracks to sewers that made carrying him just easier. So I was tired and not fully prepared. That is not Bali's fault. I like steps (especially beautifully decorated steps that make me feel like a queen). I like cliffs to lovely rivers. No small part of me believes that Bali should build safety railing.

But, I had a very big baby to carry for hours and a thrown out back.

To be fair to Bali, I should describe my mood.

One should-have-been-pleasant stroll by the park on our way to eat lunch, I ruined. I couldn't relax. Carrying heavy Judah in my left arm, holding hands with my 5-year-old nephew with my right. Judah crying and screaming "I want water!", 5-year-old singing High School Musical and swinging his head. Very hot and very humid. Huge cracks in sidewalk, child-wide, very deep. Back hurt lean to help 5-year-old over crack as Judah tries to kick a chicken walking by us. Reprimand Judah. Put him down. Dog walks up. Scared Judah asks back up. Look at dog. Think he's right. Position body between 5-year-old and dog. 5-year-old adds a new head pop to singing routine. Pull child closer as motorbikes whirl. Judah's crying, "I want water!"
In the background "Danielle, are you listening to me?"
"I'm sorry, I'm overstimulated. Can you tell me when we get to the restaurant?"
"See. She never listens to me. I'm used to it."
Feel defeated.

Point: I wasn't in the best mood.

But, that's not why we broke up.

We broke up because we had the same conversation over and over again. A conversation that always ended the same way.
I tried to change the course of the conversation. It never worked.
I felt like the time traveler who tried and tried to change history. It never worked for him either. Did it work for the Groundhog Day movie? I don't remember.

One version of the conversation:
"I see you walking-walking every day. Where is his father?"
"Oh, he's working. He's not here."
"Does his father look like you or like him? Does he have curly hair?"
"His father doesn't really look like either of us. He doesn't have curly hair."
"I don't understand."
I then go into an explanation of adoption. I tried MANY different explanations. Since I had this conversation approximately every 5 feet I walked, I had time to try out a variety. Trying to explain adoption to the island of Bali was exhausting.

The conclusive line that never varied:

"So, he's not really your son."

Judah is 3. He understands. Everything.
He also is very in tune with how I feel.
I needed to remain calm. Not show any offense. Not show any frustration. I am proud of my family. I am proud of my son.
I would like to say I was always exceptionally patient and kind. I was always kind. I think.

I wasn't offended. I knew it was never said to be disrespectful or hurtful. It may have been due to lack of experience with adoption. It may have been partly due to a language barrier. Many reasons; none of which were to hurt.

Regardless, it was hard.

I will always love Bali...but since Judah is really my son, we had to break up.

4 comments:

Ladybugs appear said...

wow. i get it. deep sigh.

lindy said...

I'm sorry. I think you're right to assume that Judah understands everything, including -- or most importantly -- your style of responding. IT's so hard to, as you say, always be nice, but whenever I've given in to being snippy or frustrated, I've walked away feeling bad about it.

Living in west africa (now Cote d'Ivoire), we get this question so often it used to make me want to scratch my face off. I assume they mean that Dessi's not my biological daughter and they're just clarifying (I mean, there is a big language barrier), but at this point, unless I'm literally cornered, I don't let them ask more than two questions before walking away or pointing in the distance and shouting, "Hey look! An owl!"

Otherwise, the questions will never ever stop.

one + one said...

Oh, man. That is tough. Near constant harassment about your family is bound to cause a break up. Sorry.

There are other Bali's in the sea.

maggie g. said...

I love this post... you write so well... I completely understood your frustration and your mama bear sensibilities.