Anything is Possible with Patience

Untangling a Life from Across the Sea, Bali, Indonesia

Perched over a hand-carved teak table, I sip a sort-of-cold Bintang beer (a local favorite in the flavor family of Coors Light) and munch on a “hamburger” (literally made of deep friend pieces of ham, which the waitress assures me is beef).

I watch in amazement as mopeds whizz by, piled high with bails of rice, ladders, large canvas paintings, potted plants, four people and two dogs, and all sorts of other things you wouldn’t think could be transported on such small, unstable vehicles.

In a moment of clarity, I realize something magnificent — I did the seemingly impossible too! I made it through the “shit dip,” as my life coach so aptly refers to it. The most clumsy phase of my transition to location independence is over. I can finally start living the life I’ve always dreamed of!!

I can’t believe I actually got out of my apartment lease and my cell phone contract and legally unlocked my phone!! My stuff is neatly stacked in a storage garage almost 9,000 miles away. My car is on deck to be sold via power of attorney to a wholesaler. My health insurance is sorted out. I found a way to get replacement credit cards and ATM cards sent to Indonesia through the most round-about way possible. All my bills are set to autopay. My parents are receiving my mail. I’m set up for success to live overseas!

I melt in gratitude when I think of the amazing people here and back in The States who helped me pull off this incredible feat. I’m even more surprised at who stepped up to take on the most time-consuming, annoying tasks — two of my x-boyfriends lovingly packed up my stuff, assembled and disassembled a maddening array of 3D puzzles (courtesy of IKEA)! Even more unbelievable, is that they both purchased large chunks of my prized possessions to furnish the new homes they will share with their new wives.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. How do I thank my new friend and business partner, Harry, who held me and let me cry and fall apart over and over again, then danced with me like a crazy freak in the moonlight??? And the gracious hotel manager who fired one of her employees for trying to sneak into my room one night to have his way with me, allowing me to feel safe in my new home. And Kiki, who showed me there’s another way, if I simply choose my most amazing life and go for it “like no shit.” Oh yeah, and all the friends who let me transfer them money electronically in exchange for elusive local currency both times I lost my ATM card. Tribe Wanted peeps — you listened as I struggled through the minutia of my transition and helped me set up a remote business so I can make money on the road.

And then there’s the locals, who smiled and laughed with me as I learned to drive on the left side of the road in a town with no traffic lights, accidently violating every custom and law of the land. You nodded knowingly as I slid down a muddy waterfall (a.k.a. road after it rains) on my moped with slippery flip flops. Pharmacy people who don’t speak English — thanks for giving me ointments to heal my mysterious skin eatting ailments, an unavoidable part of living in the tropics. Passport lady — thanks for returning my passport with a new visa. I had serious doubts when I met you at a shady coffee shop and you threw it in a black backpack…potentially never to be seen again.

I cringe when I think of the unspeakable amounts of money I blew through the last four months on rent for a vacant apartment on the beach in Los Angeles and the absurb cell phone bills (even with the International Plan”). Did I mention the sleepless nights I spent wrestling with the impossible logistics of moving my stuff and selling my car from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, 15 hours ahead, with mediocre to suck-fest internet access?

And the phone calls with my U.S. service providers — at times I didn’t think I could make it through. It’s hard to translate the amount of patience needed to endure three and half hour phone calls with my cell phone company, two hour calls with my credit cards and banks, etc.

Here’s a typical conversation:

Me: “Hi, I have a very tricky situation and need help sorting it out.”

Them: “Hi ma’am!” I’m happy to help. Can you please shout out all of your personal information like your social security number, mother’s maiden name, passwords, amount of money in your bank account, the name of the person you have a crush on who is sitting next to you…”

Me: Ah fuck…I guess I have no other choice, since the only way I can reach you is in a busy co-working space filled with eavesdropping people (not on purpose of course). “Here’s everything you need to know to steal my identity.”

Them: “I’m sorry, you were cutting out. Can you please repeat that.”

Fast forward through an endless back and forth jumble of complex mind-boggling details. Then…

Them: “Oh, I found an answer! You simply need to come in to a branch office in person. When are you coming back?”

Me: “Probably never (with a deep sigh of defeat). Can I please speak to your manager? #%@!!*”

Them: “Absolutely ma’am. Can I please put you on a brief hold? [20 minutes later]. Hi ma’am. I spoke to the every manager on staff and looked through all of our policies and fine print. I found a solution!”

The wind blows outside, a monkey chews through a wire, someone sneezes across the street (no one really knows why this happens) and poof! — the internet drops. Goodbye Skype call. A few minutes later, the internet is back on. Tough luck though…it’s now past the business hours on the East Coast of the U.S. and they are closed. I’ll have to try again tomorrow and repeat the same process at least three or four more times with all new people, since no one has a direct line.

Thank God I am finally through all of this!! I smile a huge grin of satisfaction at my endurance and never-ending hope that I can pull this off. Just as I’m about to leave the restaurant, rain drops start to ricochet off my pink, shiny helmet balancing precariously on my moped handle bars.

One more Bintang please!! I’ll just stay here until the storm passes by and dream of all of the amazing things I can do now that I’m free. I can wait forever I suppose —now that I know I have WAY more patience than I ever imagined. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to need this skill in the future.