One Year.

Photo: Jeremie Montessuis for Film Noir Studio

It’s the 6th of September, and I arrived in Phnom Penh on the 5th last year.

I had meant to, on the one year mark of my arrival, write a blog post reviewing the past twelve months putting together a meaningful, intricate, and interesting entry to post- but over a feast of bangers and mash and rosé last night at Public House I realized I had missed the mark.

I concluded that my lack of a post is indicative of my current state of mind and the fullness of my planner, markered in a rainbow of UniBall inks. With a full time job that on one day has my blood boiling and nerves frayed and the next feeling completely at ease, along with roughly six projects with my hand in them that either are in the midst of processing or are in the works already- not to mention the scattered photo shoots I have the pleasure of doing while trying to maintain somewhat of a weekly creature comfort normalcy so important to me with dinners at home, going to the gym, and getting a full night’s sleep; time escapes me.

I had planned on coming to Cambodia for one year and then returning to the states and picking up where I had left off- with work, friends, et al. It quickly became clear that this was likely not going to be the case, whether I did go back to Washington or not. Best friends have moved to other states where they are thriving, growing, and doing incredible things, work stations have changed as they naturally do, life has shifted for all of us and at the moment- I feel mostly that Cambodia is home for now. While there are nights when I go through old playlists I made with Brooke while scrolling through my old tumblr, looking at times past that nostalgia takes me over and the urge to get back to those moments is extremely strong, almost enough to make me pack up all my life and move back-all it takes is to get up off the sofa, go out onto the balcony, let the humid breeze waft over me and look around to remind me of why I am here.

Although tired and many times stressed after a long day- I still find myself overwhelmingly happy from the everyday things and can only imagine that the same nostalgia would eventually creep back into my mind if I moved back to many of the comforts that I thought were so important. During a shift or out at dinner one night at Marrow or Bastille, I would remember the luxurious long lunches with Lyda, Duncan, and Ritchie- laughing at new Khmer words I’ve learned (chmma, paum, lop- cat, fart, crazy). The moto drives around town where I’m half giddy, half about to crap my pants because of oncoming traffic. The weekend trips to the market, bartering over decorative coconut bowls and oil burners. The evenings at my mom’s house, when sometimes after I feel like I just made away with a free 3 hour therapy session. The nights at my own beautiful home with Ritchie sorting through the day’s happenings with laughter over an incredible dinner (cooked by him). The days at the office when I am struck with an idea, put it into writing, and have it published. Published! It doesn’t even matter if people actually take the time to read it sometimes, just knowing it’s there, available to pick up in print makes me content – and now working with many friends back in the states as contributors has only made my work all the more enjoyable. Seeing a platinum blonde bewigged version of myself in an advertisement plastered alongside a high rise building. Learning to navigate in a very difficult to navigate city. The weekend trips to Siem Reap or Sihanoukville with new friends, exploring new places and experiencing wonderful moments. The things I see driving around that now seem commonplace, but in the Western world absolutely bananas- cock fights, cars driving down the “wrong” side of the street, roads flooded two feet deep.

There isn’t much else to say other than I am extremely grateful for this year, so full and blessed with happy accidents, life lessons, and even the overwhelming frustrations that sometimes darken my days and speak to my melancholic side to the point of salty, warm tears. Life here is not for everyone- as I’ve seen from the moment I got here when people started to leave. That’s okay. Eventually, I will probably say my farewells too. There will always be the coming and going and I suppose that’s all part of what makes being here so much more important to me.

Thanks mom, for welcoming me here for a life-changing vacation to visit you in April 2012. Things would have probably looked a lot different for me if you hadn’t. I read back on my first post that I had written after moving here.

A piece of it read:

 “Someone wise told me I’m in the honeymoon phase of my travel. But if this is what I came searching for, then why would I ever look back?”

The statement was true- I was in the honeymoon stage of my move across the globe. In a dreamy state of mind I meandered through my days in a new found astral and pensive state of mind along with the blistering excitement of something so fresh.  But in a lasting relationship, there are different phases; those of regret, anger, sadness, bliss, and then they cycle through all over- it’s a matter of moving through them and understanding that not every moment can be a snapshot through a warm, soft focus lens- all imperfections dulled with a haze of warmth over the scene. Work goes into everything, and so does having faith in it. So, no. I am no longer in my honeymoon phase with Cambodia. But they do always say the first year of “marriage” is the hardest, so if I got through it with this much under my belt and twelve months filled with sparkling memories- I’d say this relationship has done me well.

Here’s to another year. Another month. Another day. 

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