It was one in the morning local time, and muggy as hell. I knew it would be warm and humid, but wasn’t prepared for how quickly I was drenched in sweat as soon as I walked outside.
I trudged down the sidewalk with my giant pack on my back, and tried to maintain my excitement as my exhausted mind scrambled to figure out where to go for my last flight: the one way hop from Jakarta to the island of Bali.
Once I found the gate and settled in for the next six hours until my flight time, I logged into the free wifi and checked in with my husband. I had several emails and text messages from him in urgent tones: “Call ASAP”. Trying not to indulge the mental images of my precious dog mangled on the road or worse, I immediately called him on video chat.
“Jon Clark is dead,” is all he said.
For ten years I had dreamed of coming to Bali. I worked seasonal jobs with the idea of saving money and having flexibility to travel. But every year, something would get in the way. I began to realize I was sabotaging myself: allowing my fear of money insecurity or getting out of my comfort zone to limit my life.
I had known Jon Clark through work at the rafting company I had worked for the past six years. He taught kayak instruction in the summers and spent the winters kayaking in Chile, where he also owned land and a house. Every time I saw him he would tell me to come to Chile for the winter. I had the same reply every time: “next year”.
I was always waiting on a better job, more financial security, better timing. Sitting in the muggy Jakarta airport, my husband’s stricken face peering at me from my iPhone screen, all my trepidations about this Bali trip began to melt away. Jon was in his mid thirties. He had spent his life chasing every possible adventure; he died wind surfing in the Bahamas with the love of his life while living on a sailboat.
How many times had I told Jon “next year”, not realizing, there would one day be no “next year”?
As I packed for Bali the few nights before, I had had to work to keep the stress at bay: Do I have enough money for this? Am I really making the right decision? Am I sabotaging my job? How will this impact my future career? Should I do this next year instead?
There I was in Jakarta. I was a mere few hours away from meeting my best friend in Bali for three weeks of yoga, surfing, and doing whatever we pleased. I had spent a year saving money and planning this trip. Every skipped meal out, every latte I didn’t spend money on, every cost cutting budget minded grocery list had led to this.
There I was in Jakarta. The doubt in my mind accompanied the voices telling me I wasn’t being a “good wife” and this was “irresponsible” playing inside my head.
The ticket agent announced our flight was boarding. I stood up, said goodbye to my best friend, my partner in life, and walked toward to the gate.
A few hours later, I landed on the even muggier island of Bali. Damp with sweat, Andrew pulled me into the biggest bear hug of my life. “I’m so glad you’re here,” he said softly. Andrew and Jon had been close friends for years. I pulled back and looked at Andrew’s salt water scrubbed face.
“This was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.”