Cambodia, Expat, Personal, Phnom Penh, Travel

Feet on the ground.

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Well kids, it’s been one week since my mom took off on a plane back to Washington and guess what? I am still alive! I am well(ish)! I am eating, drinking, and making merry! As we dropped her off at the airport, it felt like it would be ages before that would be a possibility or that life would fall back into a natural rhythm for quite some time. Although I do feel lethargic, without much motivation to go to the gym or out to do much socializing other than under the comforting roof of my favorite restaurant run by some of my favorite people- I know I have to push through to this next week and get back into action full force, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

An hour before her departure. Fireworks!?

An hour before her departure. Fireworks!?

I don’t deal with saying “goodbye” or seeing people leave my life as it is very well. That’s usually why I leave first. It comes from deep seeded abandonment issues that I’m likely to face my entire life; it sometimes makes leaving just too easy. When I need change, when things get boring, when I feel unchallenged, unappreciated, or uninterested all I have to do is say the “adios!” first, buy a plane ticket, and relocate. It’s definitely not the best way of handling things when the road gets rough, but in all honesty it’s a coping mechanism that has worked in the past- but has also come back to bite me in many ways too.

This wasn’t the case for my mom. She had paid her dues in Cambodia, and after almost three years of hard work, connecting with tons of people, and living fully- her time here was through. She will return for business trips, pleasure, and to revisit and relive the beauty she first saw in The Kingdom a couple times throughout the year (or so she said) and I will meet her around the world- in Scotland, in the States, in Barcelona, in Zambia, in Cape Town- the possibilities are endless. There will be many chances for us to reconnect so I know deep down that when we hugged at the airport, tears pooling in my collarbones, that it was not truly goodbye. A friend, Patrick, who hadn’t even met her, but had seen her adventures through mutual friends and heard about her spirit just messaged me saying, “I’ve already started a Kickstarter fund to erect a monument in her honor – a living legend. I think a mermaid form of Sheila is appropriate. Read about it in the next What’s Up mag.” Although he was joking, I kind of feel like doing just that!

A last moment in her trust flat: Sheila's Game and Feast Stop.

A last moment in her trust flat: Sheila’s Game and Feast Stop.

The day to day interactions are gone. I don’t receive blue bubbles of text asking to join her at the Himawari for a swim or beers, to see if we want to have dinner and watch a good movie, and I still go through the moments where I think “Oh let me call my mom so she can come!” before realizing she’s oceans away. I do miss that availability but I know that it’s important- especially right now as I navigate through the murky waters like those that she swam in the Mekong- that I figure some of these things out myself or through different people and sources than her. Much like the way I’ve learned to live without my dad for the past five years, I will learn to live from a distance and watch what she does and maintain a connection through different ways. Email will only take us so far, as will iMessages- but I leave her now to resettle, experience the newness of a place she left, immerse herself in the reverse culture shock of living back in a first world country, and be with family and friends.

For now, I’m heading back into focus mode. I want projects piling up, my at-home work desk to be fully utilized, and my agenda to be filled to the brim. I thrive off being busy, being productive, being integral in work and in pleasure. I see different opportunities and jobs slowly presenting themselves to me and it couldn’t be at a better time. It’s as if the world knew I needed a few weeks of hiding in my shell, but that eventually I would need to be drawn out. I feel the same thing happened for my mom. While she was struggling to understand what was next for her in Cambodia, she took time to take a month back home and big, interesting, wonderful things and opportunities came from it. She may have felt lost here, but she found her feet on the ground in Washington: she knew where she belonged. So come on the rest of 2014, we’re ready for whatever you have to give.

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