I’m sitting in my muggy office under fluorescent lights, coconut to my right, sketch pad to my left, and the Tonle Sap directly ahead. It’s a far cry from where I was only weeks ago working out of various hotel rooms with the air conditioning on full blast while wearing my satin pajamas, and even more different than the space where I worked in New York overlooking Central Park, the bustle of the city never dying below.
I arrived in Phnom Penh, my old home of three years, last Monday night; it was electric. Being back in the country that harbored my body, mind, and soul for what felt so long was thrilling, confusing, and foreign in all of the least obvious of ways. I can see why my parents continued to move around the globe for so long, and I can also see why they didn’t return to many of the spots we lived before.
The effects were jarring. Everything felt just as it had when I left this past February, yet it all seemed different all at once. Instead of being picked up at the airport by my family or loved ones, my gracious Cambodia-based boss Richard waited for us at the baggage claim exit. Rather than heading to a home I had created for myself or to my mother’s warm, cozy apartment I was headed across the river to Chroy Changvar to the serviced apartments my company had set up for Yoshi, Michelle, and me. The air felt the same- its magnetic heat emanating from every surface, the roads were familiar yet I knew that this time returning, I was a visitor.
I still have yet to venture much into Phnom Penh’s busy streets much as I’m working generally ten to twelve hour days with the diligent and fantastic team here. While there are definite frustrations, set backs, questions, and plenty of roller coaster thoughts- I am grateful to be here. Grateful for the opportunity to re-explore the possibilities of living a life abroad (or semi abroad in my case, I love you USA) and for the ability to continue to reach my network far and wide. More than anything, I’m grateful to have stolen moments away with my best friends here and even if I haven’t had the time to catch up yet, I know that they’re only a few kilometers away. That in itself is comforting.
Yet my mind continues to wander. I find myself daydreaming and finding myself back where I just was. Back to the soft rain outside my loft in Washington. To the smooth pavement as I would drive home from Sally and Seth’s at night back to a downy, high thread count fortress. To pastel sunsets, standing on the dock feeling blissfully happy. To sticky leather and sativa and the smell of Grape Hi-Chews. To the bite of the wind at the ocean, just outside of Aberdeen. To the sprawling shades of Evergreen, all different and magnificent lining the highway heading to nowhere. To my mother’s futon sofa, where I had spent so many nights when I first began settling back into the states. To the taste of Reed’s Ginger Beer with an aftertaste of Prosecco sitting at the Casanova’s heavy wood table. To my feet grazing warmth and kicking remote controls off hotel beds. To running down the street laughing, slightly drunk without a care in the world under the hazy streetlights of downtown Tacoma. To the sprawling summer nights where the sunlight continues to kiss your skin until it’s almost time to nod off to sleep.
I begin to wonder if I’m crazy for not knowing that I should be there. But I don’t. My insides are screaming at me for not knowing what I want, or what I need. Everything and nothing, all at once. I feel like every time I visit a new place, I leave a little bit of my soul there and feel like if I don’t move there for at least some period of time I will be leaving that bit behind raw and exposed. I know that I can’t keep that mindset if I plan on continuing to travel, but it’s almost as if knowing now that I can move anywhere and somehow create a life has caused me to just want to dabble everywhere. It’s worth a shot a few times, but eventually I’m going to have to listen to the strong “tick-tock” of my biological clock. I’m curious if I have always just let what I really want go too long before asking for it and then by that time, the moment has passed. For being a girl who loves instant gratification and to constantly be feeling, I do put things off for too long in regards to making sure I get what I need emotionally, spiritually, and in many cases- physically.
I prefer for situations, people, and things to make the first offer and to lay things out with perfect boundaries, lines, and a path that I can take hold of. To tell me what I want, to show me what to do so that I can take it up in my arms and run with it, to give me what I need, for everything to fall into place perfectly and fit into a mold of my envisioned perfect life. Obviously, that rarely happens. Very, very rarely. So this is my promise to myself: once I come to what I actually do want, what I require, what I hope for: I won’t be afraid to say just exactly what it is. It may work, it may not- but at this point I’m finding that if I don’t at least ask, I’ll never know whether it was in reach or not.