I took an unexpected hiatus from this newsletter in June. It was a batshit month in all honesty, there was (and still is) a lot I am sorting through. I guess today's writing serves as an affirmation, a reminder, a warm hug to myself and hopefully to you too. Enjoy...
My apartment in Ubud was dark, the lights yellow. The roof thatched and the furniture mahogany. I had a porch, a pool and a perforated belief that paradise would only ever be somewhere in the distance. There was peace — even amidst power cuts that came as frequent as the ten-minute downpours. Above my bed, which housekeeping made up every day — frangipani flowers and bottled water left on top of the sheets as proof — there were two narrow light-leaking windows that didn’t belong any curtains.
Windows so high ordinarily wouldn’t cause a problem of privacy. Except, running adjacent to my apartment was a service stairway where the top steps were eye level to looking into my bedroom, through said windows. As I lay in bed, glancing through my mirror, I would see staff sitting across the steps, checking their phones or chatting amongst themselves. Though it was more an infrastructure problem than it was anything more sinister, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t slightly discerning to know I could be watched in my sleep or as I undressed.
I liked staying at Uma Sari Cottage and I think the downfalls I experienced of the place were more a reflection of Bali than of the functionality or hospitality of that particular accommodation. I never once felt unsafe but I was still very much aware of myself and I don’t think I had the alternative — reckless abandon — in me, at the time. I didn’t stay out late and was often tucked up in my bed, tiger balm lathered over my body, reading Elizabeth Gilbert or writing in my notebook, ready for sleep by ten-thirty.
I look back at who I was then, in January of 2020, and I am struck by how at my most emotionally fragile, I was also embarking on the bravest month of my life. How I was cracked open and hurting, just out of a long-term relationship, yet in that setting so completely open to how things were meant to unfold.
There were signs on my side.
Every evening my lullaby would be the same Brit-abroad bar songs sang from the bar across the street. Which was more soothing than it sounds — an unlikely comfort, perhaps, when you are 7,000 miles from anything familiar. And partly because there was a synchronicity I was taking note of — a particular song played every night that felt like it was directed at me personally. An affirmation I was unable to deny — something that sent shivers down my body and swelled tears in my eyes on an almost nightly basis.
The song was She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, which, okay, couldn’t get more early naughties main-character movie montage. But who am I to argue with the way messages unfold, with what stirs you when it does. If anything, it's funny the things that end up revealing meaning when you need it. And every night it was as if the song was weaving through the air, across the street, underneath my door and holding me in my most floored state, seeing me as I was.
And she will be loved
And she will be loved
In other words, I was going to be okay.
In the eighteen months since, there have been many times where I’ve felt particularly helpless, where I have sat on my bum and cried and asked God for help. What has often come back to me in those moments is the image of that girl who was hurt, who was lost, but who could see through the flames for one moment every single night. Who only needed a brief chasm of time to remember that she will be loved.
I’m remembering that again, now.
As always, I love to hear from you. If you liked today’s newsletter, want to carry on the conversation or have any thoughts or feedback at all, do hit reply. Thanks for reading x