Calm waters.

Photo: Roberto Echeverry

“We thought we had found the loves of our lives, but we hadn’t.

We were still young; barely out of the sweaty grasp of puberty.

Still surprised when we bled,

At the shadows on our faces when the clock struck five.


Our scabbed knees gave way to leather pumps,

Dandelion stained Levis to chiffon dresses,

White Hanes to laced slips of fabric.


Our hearts ached for everything and everyone,

Each dog getting struck by a car reason to kill ourselves,

A kiss worth jumping off a bridge.”

I came across this musing in my Google Drive as I was looking for an invoice for some work I had done in Cambodia. It was written August 12th, 2012- about half a month before I had moved.

I had forgotten about writing this, about the pain that I must have felt during that time. As I read it now, two and a half years later- I realize how much has changed and paradoxically how very little. I have lived abroad. I have been an expatriate. I have loved. I have hated. I have been excited, angry, confused, and every emotion in between since. I’ve changed in every single way and not at all, the words ring true in every sense and I understand why I wrote them and where they bubbled from. But I also know that I made it through those moments before I set out for life in Cambodia, what I felt was one of the most confusing and painful moments in my life. This time it is different, of course, and the way things pan out will be different, of course. This move is brutally painful yet blindingly exciting- the mixture being a dangerous cocktail I sip on as I sit on the precipice of change.

My mind is shattered from a month of building emotions. My head filled to the brim with thoughts, ideas, questions, answers, and musings but I’m not quite ready, or even able, to begin to chart these past thirty or so days. They say smooth waters never made a good sailor- so even though I feel as I’ve been chucked overboard and managed to climb atop my vessel, choking for breath, shivering, and disoriented- I have made it to the next break. How tightly I can hold on, I have yet to know.

What I do know is that I can swim, and I will. I will kick and flail and cough up that briny water that makes its way into my windpipe and somehow- I will find myself in the sunlight, out of the choppy waters,  rocking back and forth on a peaceful ship. Safe. Sound. Enveloped in warmth.


  1. You are so brave Anna. At such a young age to have experienced so many things and learned so many lessons. I love reading what you write. You are your mother’s daughter in so many ways. You are your dad’s daughter in so many ways. And you are just you in many more. Looking forward to seeing you back in Washington!

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