I Met My Soulmate in Bali 11 Years Too Young
I have three rules I attempt to live by:
- Don’t hook up with boys when you’re drunk. You’re not 18 anymore.
- Don’t give blowjobs. They’re gross and he definitely doesn’t deserve it.
- For the love of god, don’t hook up with men twice your age.
We met on the dance floor at my favourite beach bar in Canggu, Bali. In my six long island-deep mind, he looked like the latest hunk on The Bachelor. But he was awkward, couldn’t dance and was wearing hideous senior citizen-esqe sandals. I couldn’t resist making fun of him. Rule number 1 was ready to be broken. I told him to never wear the shoes again and showed him how to slut drop (his consistent lack of coordination was strangely endearing). We danced all night, walked along the beach chatting, and closed the night by breaking rule number 2.
He was 37 and one year off being exactly twice my age. Strike number 3.
My night of breaking my own personal boy gospel had come to an end, all for a man I didn’t know I was looking for.
He was intelligent, kind and funny. He had passions, hopes and dreams and most importantly, he had his shit together: he was a neurologist from Norway on his way to Melbourne to help out with some epilepsy research (read: every wet dream I’ve ever had morphed into one).
The morning after we met, I was sitting in a café having breakfast with my girlfriends, fielding questions of where I had disappeared to the night before. He came up behind me mid escapade-retelling and I was mortified. He mustn’t have heard (or the old age was really catching up on his hearing ability), because he still asked me out on a date that evening in front of the girls. They screamed with excitement; I went bright red and agreed to go to a temple with him.
I’m not sure why I said yes. I assumed it was over when we left the beach – apparently dating is different in the old folks homes in Norway. Maybe it was the money, the success that drew me in. All I know for sure is that it wasn’t his shoe taste I found appealing.
The temple portion of the date was awkward. He was wearing another pair of hideous shoes with nude brown socks halfway up his calves –which I made him remove – and old man sunglasses. I felt like I was on holiday with my father as he took photos of every goddamn palm tree we passed. I saw all 50 snaps on his Facebook later. They were all shit.
On our way to dinner, he replaced his ’80s sunglasses with the spectacles that had won me over the night before. I was instantly in love with him again.
Like in all good romance novels, it rained as soon as we left our car, and we sprinted for the nearest restaurant. It was Mexican, the one food type my mother warned me against eating on dates – tacos are messy and not quite the elegance I was looking for.
He ordered the most expensive bottle of wine – something that only happens with my father (shudder). We ate mouth-watering crab and oozing lamb shank tacos while we talked for four hours about our lives – mine albeit half the length. We discussed our parents and siblings, the annual family Christmas fights where my dad threw an apple at my brother, and our favourite places we’ve travelled to. Japan was a love of both of ours. We showed each other photos of our pets and our best friends, shared our dreams and major life heartaches – his losing his fiancé to a car accident, mine losing my first boyfriend to my best friend at 14. The conversation flowed like we were old army friends catching up 20 years later.
He paid the cheque after visiting the bathroom and wouldn’t have a bar of me attempting to shove cash in his back pocket. I was secretly glad for this considering I still don’t understand the money in Indonesia. Turns out I only attempted to give him 20 Australian cents.
He demanded he walk me home instead of calling a car – something about it being more romantic. An hour and 45 minutes later, my feet were sore, but he’d kissed me sweetly on my doorstep and I was home after the best date of my life with a guy twice my age.
All the girls I was staying with wanted to know the goss. Did I like him? Was he nice, did he make me laugh, did he pay the bill, is he actually a neurologist, did I sleep with him?
The truth was, yes – I did like him. A lot. He was funny in all the right ways; he was respectful, kind and didn’t make me feel inferior because of my age. He was everything any boy back home had never offered me.
But he was a 37-year-old neurologist from Norway living in my country for only four months.
I knew it could only be a lightening fast holiday romance before he left in four days. But I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t want to let myself know what a great man is like just to return home to the little boys who drink beer out of their shoes or, god forbid, their mate’s scrotum. So when he messaged me the next day asking to meet up, I ignored it. I didn’t reply. I didn’t see him again.
I didn’t want to fall for someone who was so temporary, someone I knew I’d lose in a few short months. Because for me, this summer would be the best of my life, and I couldn’t let myself experience that with a man twice my age from across the world. That type of connection is for 30-year-old Lauren to enjoy. Not the Lauren who can down six long-islands in one-and-a-half hours and still slut drop without falling (too many times).
And I still don’t know how to say his goddamn name.
Cover by Jeremy Bishop