You have to be wealthy to live in Newport Beach, California. It’s an affluent little city with high-end…well…everything. The people who live there do not worry about “keeping up with the Joneses.” They are the Joneses.
At the last high school reunion I attended, one of my classmates said this to a small group of listeners: “I only moved to Newport Beach”…he pauses for effect, gives a wry smile…“because I could.” You could tell it was an in-joke among people who live there. To people who live in Newport Beach, this would be funny. They’d laugh, say “duh” and fingertip high-five, then down another crystal flute of Dom Perignon. But to someone who doesn’t live there, it might seem arrogant, as though he’s bragging. And just a tad off color, like any in-joke told to an outlier.
A while ago, I met a young couple, Shiva and Shakti—both spiritual and aware. They’d both worked almost every day for two years, sometimes working two jobs, sacrificed spending money on anything that was not absolutely necessary for them to survive, each lost over 10 pounds/4.5 kg in the process. They saved every penny they could, and now they are traveling the world with their travel nest egg. You have to admire that kind of devotion and tenacity to accomplish a goal. They figured they would travel at least a year, and circumnavigate the world before starting careers and a family. When I met them, they had already traveled through South America, visited Easter Island (I am jealous of that!), sailed in French Polynesia, backpacked Australia, and were now in Bali. And Shakti was in her first trimester: shit happen out there in the world.
One day, we were eating dinner in the Yellow Flower Café. Shiva asked me why I keep returning to Bali so often. The short answer slipped out of my mouth before I actually thought of good reasons. I replied: “Because I can.” They both chuckled, nodded their heads in understanding, and gave me knowing looks. For that one moment, we were the Joneses, on the inside of that joke.
You know when you go to some countries, and you ask someone if you can photograph them and they become indignant, wave their arms in the air, and yell: “No. No photos.” Or in some countries if you snap a photo of someone, especially a woman, you might find yourself sitting in a jail that makes Alcatraz look like a country club. Depending on what country you’re in, there are various different reasons for people’s opposition. Different cultures, different strokes. One of the things I absolutely love about Bali is that most people here truly like having their photo taken, most will actually thank you after you’ve snapped the shot. For someone who loves to take photographs, Bali is Nirvana.
The little girl in this photograph is Ketut. She lives in Ubud on the island of Bali. This street begins at Jalan Raya, the main road of Ubud; runs through some stunning rice fields; climbs higher into the foothills and passes Tampaksiring, the holy water temple; and arrives on the rim of Gunung Batur, a volcano filled with water (Lake Batur).
As part of Blogging 101, I have created this assignment: Develop a Regular Feature. So every Friday, I will post a photograph of someone’s face (that I have taken in my travels—next week, maybe Shiva and Shakti?) and relate it briefly to the place where it was taken….because I can.