New place.

Photo: Luke Mattson
Photo: Luke Mattson

It’s curious, being in this new place. There’s so much I’m unfamiliar with. Walking lightly cobbled streets that the soles of my shoes have never touched, ghosting my way under street lamps with a Cheshire small spread thick across my lips, scuttling down the subway steps in a false hurry to another new place.

Whenever I start shaking my foot from restlessness at my desk it prompts me to look outside the window, out at The Palace and it’s green features framed by beige stone. I look at the milky glow of the lights from all of the buildings so tall in their homes and my mind starts to wander. What are all of the people doing in their offices so late at night? I’ll bet they’re wondering the same of me. I’ll go press my nose to the cold glass, breath leaving a faint film and a small smudge behind. It’ll get wiped clean first thing in the morning by the cleaner but I’ll do it again.

In the morning- which isn’t really morning because my hours are as erratic as the sounds of the traffic at night- I blink at the sun, or the rain, and I start smiling again. I remember this feeling, of longing and remembrance and a strange blend of evasiveness and arms-wide-open adoration.

I recall it from when I first moved to Cambodia. What were those things that so charmed me? The frangipani. The ochre dust. The sounds of the birds that I only heard in my mother’s courtyard.  The hum of motos just beyond the gates. The first nights of Spaghetti Bolognese and martini soaked walks through bat filled alley ways. Now I stroll with a secret to every passerby, them not knowing the foreignness of this city to me. I’m not just walking to work, I’m soaking up a little bit of each person that I pass. Taking in their story, the one I make up for them.

And there’s my story. I don’t know my story other than what may have happened a few hours ago, or the night before, or life past, or things I’ve noticed enough to make note of in a notebook or on my mobile. Today my story consists of macaroni and cheese on a warm bench, the voices of my colleagues streaming through the workspace, red Uniball ink spattering the palm of my hand, the smell of the Old Spice I wear. I love this chapter.


  1. Anna: Don’t take this the wrong way. I really do like you and we don’t even really know each other. You just seem like a kind person. But America is for the birds. It’s too boring for you. I’m not saying Cambodia is where it’s at either, but someone with your level of talent and ability and whatever the fuck else (looks don’t hurt either, admittedly, but that’s just one card you’ve got in a full deck) can make their way in the world just about anywhere in the world. If you’re happy in your hometown or thereabouts then fuck what I’m saying, ignore it. But if you’re not, then go live somewhere outlandish – I dunno, try Nigeria or Mongolia or who knows, wherever. And then tell us about it. Because you’re pretty damn good at that. Love, Peace, & Harmony from P.P. — NK

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