“Yo self, congrats! You’ve made it in Cambodia for three months as of today.”
Apparently, two of those months living here with an expired visa. A mistake even the most novice of travelers aren’t likely to make, considering each day overstayed costs $5 and that’s in a lax country, I’m lucky they didn’t punt me out of here with a $10,000 fine and a ‘DO NOT RETURN’ sign hanging around my neck.
The whole issue came up, thankfully, as I was mindlessly rifling through my desk drawer, gazing in wonderment at the strange assortment of things that have made their way into my possession. A blunt steak knife from Sharky’s, a stack of business cards that would make Bateman cringe, and a whole lot of receipts from VIP Market with ARA Menthols and White Wines listed abundantly on their flimsy selves. Fortunately, I came upon my passport, pushed to the back like a bad child in a dunce cap, much like how I felt after flipping to the page where it clearly stated “EXPIRATION: OCTOBER 6”
I quickly Skyped my gem of a travel agent, Cina, who deftly took matters into her own hands and arranged an early morning pickup of my passport to have it renewed, but with no dismissal of the $300 overstay fine. I thought I may try and make my way through a few loop holes and got in contact with an acquaintance at the U.S. Embassy who might know a trick or two about getting out of the fee since I knew I would be renewing my visa to a business visa for the next six months. After a few phone calls and some wishful thinking, I made my way out to the Immigration Department near the airport hoping to save a chunk of change: a big chunk of change, considering my current income and affinity for accessory shopping.
After a wasted explanation to the immigration officer, a few embarrassing tears weakly shed, a new thoroughly pissed off and nauseated looking visa photo, and a $15 tuk tuk ride back to the gym I realized what I was really paying for. Yes, I renewed my visa and have multiple entry access for the new six months and ponied up for the overstay, but as I made my way back into the city I realized I was paying for my lack of some basic responsibility these past few months. I haven’t caught my breath since the moment I collided with Phnom Penh and it’s as if the magic of Cambodia, this new world, these new people and experiences blinded me from the organizational skills that usually kept me from idiotic situations like the one I’ve currently found myself in. The tragic made its way into my daily life and brought this little one back to Earth. It’s not as if I haven’t been able to keep my meetings scheduled, activities in order, or (up until now) my finances in tact but I had become rather careless; leaving the tea kettle boiling to the point where it completely fried and you could have grilled a steak on the wall tiles they were so hot, I was insanely lucky I didn’t burn the whole house down or doing something as mindless as setting my purse next to an open window in a place where opportunity thefts run rampant.
To quote FInn from Adventure Time, “Im not righteous. I’m wrongteous. Stupidtous.”
I allowed the typical Anna to beat herself up over the debacle for several hours throughout the day, took out my frustration to the point of blisters on the treadmill and had a mess of pity party text sessions with friends willing to listen to my whining, and knowing how I generally deal with self-failures, this could have gone on for days. It’s not necessarily the money that bothers me as much as the fact that I would let something so basic slip between the cracks.
Instead, I listened to some Youth Group, spritzed on a hint of Tom Ford and made my way out the door to meet my favorite driver, Narak, to take me to Eclipse Sky Bar to meet some interior designers making their way into the business. I tell you, there is nothing to ease the pain of a fart of a day like stepping into the 90’s on a gorgeous rooftop bar and hearing “Kiss Me”. Within that moment, I soaked in the day. I am so incredibly blessed to be here, a kid trying to make her way in the world while creating meaning, lasting relationships and make a mark, even a smudge, on a few left sides of cohort’s brains and possibly a ventricle or so. The magic slays the tragic in my life and right now, in this moment, I can just be that silly, reaching girl. I can trust that I’ll find a job that will sustain me both monetarily, emotionally, and creatively and that a wonderful apartment or flat or villa that I can nest in will arrive and to continue worrying about things like that are an expenditure of energy that is simply useless.
As I was riding home on the back of a moto, the somehow refreshing Phnom Penh wind rushing against my face, I made visual contact with another foreigner, enjoying their time on the back of their moto dop’s ride as much as I was. I couldn’t help but yell, “ISN’T IT JUST FANTASTIC?!” before my driver thought I was unfit for the public eye and sped me quickly away.
I couldn’t be more grateful for my mom at the moment as well, her refusal to respond to irate text messages directed at no one in particular help me cool my jets and even financially, she’s been more than generous. Although she has a heaping plate full of her own things to deal with at the moment between enormous work projects and a Christmas trip back home to the States, I know there is never a time she won’t commiserate with me lovingly. It’s also a plus that I have a natural affinity towards crap, cheap foods because it seems I’ll be living on a diet consisting of ramen, mac n cheese, and boiled eggs for the next month, a cheeseburger mixed in there obviously and have, not because of any of my own doing, cultivated the ability to let things go a bit more quickly than I used to.
So, fellow expats, raise a $1 glass of Pastis to lessons learned and make sure you’re checking your passports, no matter how swept up you find yourself.