My hair is full of Balinese salt. The ocean. His sweat. His tears. I can’t bring myself to wash it all out; I’d rather be dirty. I didn’t cry for the first twenty-four hours. Then I wept until I slept. I was happy before I left and now I’m stamping my feet. Pouting. Yelling, I don’t want to be here! The knots in my shoulders are back. I’ve lost my appetite. My tan has already started fading.
Yes, I miss the heat. I miss the white sand and cerulean water. I miss the plethora of coconuts and papaya and avocado. I miss the rice-fields. But most of all, I miss him. The way he sings all time. The constant constellation of kisses on my forehead, my shoulder, my thigh. His hand like a gentle anchor in my hand, on my back, on my leg. His bitchy moods and the way he does a 180 when I call him out on them. His headful of wild black curls. His casual gracefulness. The way he appreciates my details. The way he isn’t afraid to argue with me. The way we bicker. The way we tease each other. His disgust for pretenses. His patience with my anxious indecision. His raw desire for my body and my mind. The way he talks about his father.
On the day I left, we fought. It wasn’t our first fight, but this one was different: it was born out of frustration, I think; it was an outlet. The last hours were punctuated with a constant, alternating chorus: I don’t want you to leave and I don’t want to go. But, other than that and gripping each other slightly harder, we ignored the imminent hole of my departure. We didn’t promise each other anything. And that speaks of the gravity of our emotions; shallow trysts make weak vows.
Back home, people are skeptical. I was too. But combusting into tears speaks buckets. When you are with someone 24/7 for eleven days, you get a quality idea of who they are. And this man is so unapologetically open with his ‘flaws’: his ridiculous patchwork way of expressing himself; the way he pretends to accept his shortcomings (but then loops back and tries to make amends); his stormy temperament. I miss the whole chunk of him, the parts that made me laugh, the parts that made me feel beautiful, and the parts that made me bite my fist out of frustration. Under the umbrella of a temporary romance, we let ourselves be vulnerable, we let ourselves be seen. We let ourselves be intimate in a way that terrifies us back in our respective homes.
The first time we met, we planted a seed. This time, we are a sapling. I don’t know for certain that we could become a tree. But, even when I’ve washed the salt from my hair and the Melbourne sky bleaches my skin white, I know that I’m willing to walk around with a watering can in my pocket, waiting to see what grows when we meet again.