Here I am on a teak lounge chair, west of Kuta Beach on Bali, which is one of the most romantic islands on earth. I am thinking about what I want out of my life and from men. Bali is my muse for this reverie and she never ceases to inspire me. This is an island that celebrates the senses. Hospitality and massage are honed to fine arts. Perhaps most important, the island is enduringly attractive and easy to live on, at least in part because it's a place where a single woman can feel safe strolling the beaches and villages. I can even banter and flirt with local men of all ages and not worry that anything unwanted is going to happen.
On this island, if my last two trips here were any indication, I will soon find myself in a place I rarely get to spend much my time—the reflective, contemplative present. I'm usually speeding through life, juggling appointments, putting out fires, and scheduling for the near and far future. The prospect of trimming away all of that for a while is exciting.
My friend interrupts my soul-searching.
"Enjoying the guide book?" asks the tall, trim man with salt-and-pepper hair.
Dom has returned from his postlunch stroll down the beach. He is a welcome break from my what am I doing with my life? train of thought. Dominic is in the top tier of my favorite traveling companions. When I told him I needed support for the book I was writing, he suggested that he was the man for the job. I agreed and he signed up to accompany me to Bali for two weeks while I finished it. My first thought as I look at him striding toward me is that he has come to get me to take a walk with him. That's usually fun since we are quite the sight together: He is about six-foot-four and I don't quite reach five feet. But Dom is worried that I have been rushing around too much and he is on a program to slow me down.
"It's so good to finally be here at the same time," Dom says. He looks rested and tan, and I can see that his week on Bali prior to my arrival has been calming and rejuvenating.
"I'm going to get us some cold water. I'll be right back," Dom says. "I want you to enjoy this peaceful afternoon and just unwind after your long flight. By tomorrow you'll feel fantastic."