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T H E W H O L E T H I N G W A S S O S T U P I D . Mortifyingly stupid. And now practically everyone in Jakarta knew about it – including her mother, who had left her no less that ten voicemails about “how disappointed your father and I are with you.” Her father couldn’t even speak about it.  “Don’t you know that’s illegal here?” her boyfriend had said, angry, emasculated, and thoroughly embarrassed – though, apparently, not too embarrassed to tell everyone about it. She had wanted to say, “Don’t you know not to go snooping through a woman’s closet?” She wanted to tell her mother, “You get all dressed up and go to the mall just to catch a young man’s attention. What I do in my bed is nobody’s business but mine.” Of course, she couldn’t tell any of them any of that or she would lose her job and her mother would probably have a heart attack. What really needled her, though, what made her feel like she was about to explode, had nothing to do with her boyfriend’s total inability to satisfy her in bed – or his absolute refusal to talk about it. It was the fact that this man – the only man she had ever been with – wasn’t even hers by choice. He was hand-picked by her parents from the shallow pond of Jakarta socialites. And so was her job as a secretary at her boyfriend’s father’s company. And the suffocating business skirts and painful heels she was required to wear to work every day. And her creepy old boss who would call her into his office and ask her to go through the filing cabinets so he could get a better view of her ass. It was all bullshit and none of it was her choice. But this was her choice: packing her suitcase. She had called up her best friend Kat that morning and together they had decided to escape. To Bali. Just saying the name of the little island made her smile. She told her work she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to come in on Friday. She booked their tickets that night and didn’t tell anyone they were leaving. Kat was bringing her old Leica camera, just like she used to do when they were in uni together and would take road trips from the city down to the beach, stopping to take photos of all the things they saw and the people they met.  She switched her phone off and left it sitting on the nightstand. She didn’t need to hear any more from anyone in Jakarta this week. For the next 72 hours she would wear, say, go and do whatever, wherever, and with whoever she wanted.

Bali Belly Issue 004