Living in Cambodia has taught me many things, but the one that has been looming most recently is that you can’t truly ever plan for more than the day you’re living.

Sure, you can schedule lunches and meetings and cocktails with clients and friends, even sometime those fall through- but in the large scheme, more “life” planning type decisions, they’re things that you can grasp at but not know if they’re actually in your hand or if they’ve floated away somewhere unknown.

Even planning an upcoming trip for friends visiting from back home has been quite the ordeal: dates are off, my holidays don’t align with the US, my vacations are almost fully taken up already, work still needs to be done even while they’re in relaxation in SE Asia mode. Basically even the fun stuff can be a task to handle on top of working full time, side projects, and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life and healthy-ish lifestyle. If even the fun things are that much of a process, I can only touch the tip of the iceberg of how difficult thinking long term and organizing can be- whether it be what I want to do for work career wise in the future, where I want to live, who to surround myself with because as almost each person I had met always told me when I first arrived in Phnom Penh, “everyone you know will leave eventually.” I’ve recounted this statement a number of times, a dark and ominous death wish on all friendships and relationships living as an expat especially in such a transient environment. It’s becoming more and more truthful as I see my friends leave: Allie to Spain, Duncan to Japan, others who have plans to leave but are in limbo, and most upsettingly of all: my mom back to the States.

I am happy, actually more than just happy, thrilled- for her and the quickly arriving date of her departure: she is in a wonderful, beautiful place with the people around her back in Washington, she has released her life here with a peace that I can’t quite fathom, and she has things waiting for her that will be life changing and could ultimately change the entire path of not only her life, but her daughters in many ways as well.

It doesn’t make things much easier on my end though, selfishly speaking. I feel as if I am entwined in ribbons, like an aerial acrobat, lingering in the air and waiting for the next piece of choreography. Whether it be for my career, my personal life, my ultimate destination I have no way of knowing what’s to come and it. is. terrifying. The inability to truly trust 98% of the people around me socially in this deranged expat community doesn’t help either. While I feel like I wait in an uncomfortably static position not knowing quite where to move next, I know I need to take the advice that I constantly dole out to those around me: “once you’re out of a situation you’ll see things more clearly; then you may understand why you’re dealing- or not dealing- with the things you are right now.”

I truly believe there’s a reason for everything. That what happens in one moment effects what occurs in a week’s, month’s, even year’s time- but it doesn’t make things feel all that easy while you’re waiting, in tandem with the world’s timing, for an explanation, a movement, a moment of clarity.

But I trust that even though things are glazed over with a film I can’t quite see through, sometimes even shrouded in a fog that won’t allow me any sort of glimpse into what has yet to come: I will rise to the occasion, I will continue to not only survive but thrive, and that the people around me who truly matter will always be with me, whether in flesh or in spirit.



  1. When I first came to Cambodia, I think for at least the first full year literally 29 days out of 30 I didn’t talk to any “westerners” and the days that I spoke to westerners, it was totally incidental. And that was really refreshing.

    I think the best approach for most people is to take 98% of what they say and do with a grain of salt.

    1. I take a block of salt with most of what I hear here, regardless of who it’s coming from for the most part. My close friends I trust with my life, and right now that’s all I really need.

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