#108wordstories - Puerto Rico

The waves were higher in Condado than I’d expected. They didn’t appear powerful from the shore, but once I was waist-deep in the light blue water it became a constant game of jumping over or diving under. I held my nose but water still crept in, filling my mouth with the taste of brine and salt. The taste didn’t bother me — I love oysters and seaweed and other ocean foods — but the residual puffiness did. Once, I reacted too slowly and was knocked off my feet, tumbled against the rough bottom, sunglasses ripped away. Yet I stayed in the water, because it demanded my full presence.

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#108wordstories - Bali

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I started coughing after dinner. A dry, hacking cough that seemed completely pointless yet couldn’t be stopped. The little numbers on my inhaler read 000. Nothing left. “There’s a urgent care center nearby,” our host said. I was scared of this — I didn’t know anything about the Indonesian healthcare system. I was more scared of not breathing, so we walked down the dusty sidestreet. The building was filled with children holding gaze to cut arms and men slouched with glazed eyes. The host accompanied me to the counter. Five minutes later, I walked out holding an inhaler and ginger herbs. The trip cost me less than $6.

West Village

And yes, you will pay too much for your handmade gnocchi that chews doughy but melts like butter in your mouth or your sourdough bread spread thick with avocado and sprinkled with pink himalayan sea salt. And yes, the husky banker at the bar will lean too close to you, unaware of elbows and shoulders until he decides he wants something.

The West Village doesn’t care. It wants you to learn to savor, and to learn to wait, and to learn to push if needed.

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