When a friend asked a few people to go to Pulau Macan with her for her birthday, I wondered, “Is this my life?”
While there, it progressed from travel show to girl scout camp to a renewed understanding of my life. Going to the Thousand Islands started to feel very Silver Lake. Silver Lake is a popular destination in Michigan for weekend getaways in the summer. The connection was that both were accepted weekend options–what people do. When you start to see parallels between a tropical island destination and a Midwestern summer spot, it’s trying to force a parallel with the familiar to make sense of the ridiculous island-hopping aspect of you new life.
While there, I snorkeled for the first time. The beauty of looking down into a sea-sized fish tank was somewhat addicting. You wondered if this were truly happening so you kept circling back. Even in the same spot, it was always changing.
This time you noticed the blue star fish. The Brain coral again, but on closer inspection the yellow hairy coral oozing out of a crack. The graceful slippers of my fellow divers undulating away into the silky blue. The spiky black sea urchins. Electric blue hairy multiple arm star creatures (Lacking: An underwater camera). All the striped fish. Then the one that made a beeline for my leg.
I was spooked by a chomp close to my knee. After I raced toward shore, there were tiny bloody tooth prints in a small circle.
I realized I was a trespasser. In their territory, marveling. Something felt vaguely familiar.
Back at work, it all clicked. As I greeted one of the men who is always mopping the floor at my school, I waved, “Pagi Pak!” like I do almost every morning. The fish bite, as fierce as it was, hinted at the way I intruded without training into my new Indonesian experience.
Glimpsing a fraction of the culture and then posting thoughts on a blog.