Climbing into the back of Erin’s van, I marvelled at the decorative style that he had created. Batik sarongs, psychedelic hangings over a carpeted interior wall lining, kept me warm as I lay on his mattress. Bundles of his clothes sat to my right with Kristen and my backpacks on my left. I had chosen to lay in the back of the van when we got to the bunkhouse. The element of surprise was what I wanted to experience, the synchronicities had already aligned, and I surrendered to where we were going. I looked out the sunroof and the back windows as we left Byron township and headed inland, the township giving way to an endless jungle. The branches of trees whisked past as we began to climb noticeably upward. Erin and Kirsten often remarked about the landscape as we drove while I glanced out through the back windows of the van, only getting a glimpse of where we had been. The vista they were experiencing was theirs alone as they gave words to their awe, which filled me with a restless desire to peek over my shoulders and out the front of the windscreen. I didn’t, and their amazement became more grandiose as the jungle began to thicken overhead, the spring light filtering through the tree limbs momentarily as we continued skyward.
The van eventually stopped both Erin and Kirsten were eager to let me out to see where we had arrived. Opening the doors, I leaped out to take in the view of the walls of the shield volcano and its eroded caldera that surrounded us. In the distance, we could make out what the local First Nations people called Wollumbin, the volcanic plug that Captain James Cook called Mt. Warning. Just below where we parked was a two-story hexagonal-shaped house with a verandah off the right-hand side, covered in grapevines. Below the house and going down into the caldera was Balinese style tiered garden surrounded by dense jungle. I was aghast. Who had brought me here? And why? Rahm came up to greet us and brought us down into the house as that these questions bounced around in my mind. Walking into the open-plan interior of the house, I stopped in my tracks a few feet into the spacious building. All around me were photographs and painted portraits of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. What a trip. It was Baba who had said that I had to come to Rahm’s! Rahm introduced us to his mother, we all thanked her for her hospitality, and then he introduced us to her friend. An Italian, all dressed in white loose-fitting clothes, his shoulder-length grey-black hair kept away from his eyes by a tiger-striped necktie fastened around his head with a feather stuck in the side. He looked more North American First Nations to me than Italian. He was the father of a friend I had met in Port Douglas, Marco, a waiter who worked in one of the restaurants in the port town. He smiled at us as he rolled an enormous multiple-papered joint.
Rahm and I spent the day talking. We had much to catch up on since our last moments together on Bramston beach, Far North Queensland, where we had been extras in the movie, The Thin Red Line. The sunset was spectacular, the company even more so, we talked about many experiences and topics. The conversation was laden with anecdotes from everyone, tales, and information about how we had all arrived at this location. Eventually, we all decided to retire to bed. I felt imbued with a sense of magic that night. Like anything was possible. There was no doubt in my heart that Sai Baba had read my letter, granted me his grace and guidance, and that all that had manifested in the last few hours was part of a divine plan. In bed I held Kirsten close to me and felt the first rumblings of her arousal, this sending me into a passionate fury. We were quite the match sexually, both brimming with bravado and a sense of playfulness. In the open plan living space we were staying in on the second floor we had sex without any inhibitions. What noise we made could be heard by those spread out around the rim of the building, and when we nestled into each other after our coupling had climaxed, she drifted off to sleep. I lay awake thinking of just how amazing my reality had become. I was living my dream life. I didn’t want to relinquish my waking experience so that I could pass into other worlds in my slumber. These moments away from sleep were too precious. Kirsten’s body was warm against mine, her breathing deep, her hand wrapped around my lower back as I spooned against her. The rhythm of her breathing soothed me. I entrained with the rise and fall of her diaphragm and drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning we arose and had showers after which I made my way out onto the verandah. Rahm, his mother, and her friend were all eating breakfast. Erin was up at his van and Kirsten was just getting out of the bathroom when I took a seat next to Rahm. The spread that was put on for us was amazing. Fresh foods from the local market in Murwillumbah, and the garden, tea and juice. Erin and Kirsten joined us shortly after I arrived and we sat and ate, talking quietly amongst ourselves as the Italian rolled up another monster hooter. Kirsten, Erin and Rahm went to look at the garden below the verandah and I was left alone with Rahm’s mother and her Italian friend. Rahm’s mother moved her plate to one side and looked across the table at me. Her Italian friend finished rolling his joint and packed it by striking the end with the cardboard filter in it on the table top. Rahm’s mother stared down towards the garden for a moment then looked at me. She leaned back in her chair and then asked me a question that would lead me to one of the most elucidating and educational experiences of my young incarnation.
‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ She asked me probingly.
I blinked. Confused. It was about to get a whole more confusing. The Italian handed me the enormous trumpet joint and motioned for me to put it into my mouth. He took a lighter, and I took a drag on it, inhaling deeply and then attempting to pass it back to him. He refused telling me to smoke it all. My eyes bugged out of my head. He must be kidding. I took another drag.
‘I don’t follow.’ I said as I exhaled.
‘Sex. Do you know what you’re doing?’ She elaborated.
A sting of embarrassment washed over me. I began to feel like wanted to shrink away, but replied to her question resolutely.
‘I’m 26. Yes I have a good idea.’ I said offering the joint to both people sitting at the table.
Rahm came up from the garden and thankfully took the hooter from my hand. By now I was blazed. The Italian grunted and motioned for the joint to return to me. Rahm handed it to Erin. He took a toke, passing it to Kirsten who didn’t want any. It came back to me then the three of them left to go into the house. In my discomfort I considered getting up and leaving. I decided to apologise to her on Kirsten and my behalf if we offended them. She retorted that this wasn’t the reason why she had asked me the initial question. This hadn’t bothered her. I was confused, baked, and completely psychically open. What she said next would change my life forever. Baba had it all arranged.