Last week my storage unit was broken into and left void of more than half of its contents. Since my car window was smashed back in February with a suitcase full of items taken, it feels like I’ve been targeted. I know that’s not the case and it just happens to be a bad year for me and robberies- but I can’t help but feel a little (a lot?) less safe in this city I’ve just only returned to. The welcome wagon strikes again!
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten a number of emails, inquiries, and calls regarding work at Ladies Magazine. Since it’s now been seven months since I’ve left my post as Managing Editor- I figure I would throw it out there via blog that I am no longer an employee there after deciding to move forward into a different industry.
Now -as mentioned in several previous posts- which leads me to think that no one asking about Ladies really reads this thing anyway- I work for an insurance company, Forte, which has been successfully in business since 2000 and is now the leader in insurance coverage in Cambodia.
If I had a dime for every time someone has told me I’m difficult to read, I would be independently wealthy.
Pulling from my previous post regarding emotional walls, that would be easy to gather.
Tonight is not one of those nights.
If we were in the same room you would feel the currents of profound indignation and righteous anger emanating from me, see the tears pooling into my clavicle. I AM LIVID. Never have I so savagely (and pathetically) destroyed an egg sandwich and this lightning and thunder enveloping the city is only fitting for this battle between sadness and rage.
As young adults (not so young in my father’s case) my parents hosted and helped to resettle a group of Cambodian refugees in Seattle, Washington as part of their ministry work. From this group of refugees, one Cambodian girl and one American boy happened to fall in love and begin a life together.
Thirty or so years later, the American man died here in Cambodia due to asphyxiation through drowning.
The natural sadness of death and shock of loss came and my mother, being nurturing, hardy and strong went to be with the family of the deceased. As a widow herself she was well equipped to step into this role; she questioned and consoled and listened and…listened. And through this listening, details came to light and the whole situation felt seamy, to say the least.
The circumstances of the death led several to question what in the world this man was doing spending the afternoon swimming in a pond with Khmer boys. Which then led to a deepening conviction that more information and an full investigation was needed. This is a person who had been placed in a ministry setting to guide and protect youth of all ages. It was discovered that the organization that placed this man for his role has a history of bad decisions: two individuals under their watch actually participated in a sex trafficking ring from their post, fled the country, and were never pursued. Injustice barely touches the realm of these situations. For the sake of personal protection and to stay above legal reproof, I will end the story here.
But God, I hope the story doesn’t really end there. I so hope that should it be found that crimes of any nature were committed, anyone and everyone involved in this are brought to their knees and cast hard from their positions.
If these are the individuals placed in positions to protect and save, then who is safe? Where is shelter?
Who will be held accountable?
These questions cannot be answered unless crimes like these are brought to the surface and faced head on. Until then, I will have to rest with the thought that this man has found his way to the place where all justice is served perfectly..
The hours are fleeting.
I have miraculously managed to make it into my second week here in Phnom Penh, and I would say successfully so.
Five days after my arrival and the day we came home from Mondolkiri, my mom and I viewed a house 100 meters from the apartment she lived in, signed the broken English lease and moved in. We each have our own bedrooms and bathrooms, a dining room for spaghetti, a living room crafted for discussion, and a patio with a tree full of bats perfectly in view.
Settling is something I generally take great pleasure in; picking out high thread count sheets to eat potato chips on and roll about, stocking the fridge full of cheap champagne and American cheese, finding places to hide my favorite dog-eared books and display disgusting amounts of taxidermy. I take pleasure in the errands, luxuriant naps when I get tired of hanging things, and frequent trips to IKEA (for vases but more so for meatballs). This move, however, has proven to be a very different creature.
Now, the feeling of a home comes in the form of the familiarity of an electrical socket, a can of pizza flavored Pringles, my softest vintage tee that I like to think I only know the feel of, and possibly falsely, the feeling of security one feels in the form of walls.
Since living here, the mention of precaution and safety has made it’s way into conversation countless times. Cambodia is a place where purse snatching, moto theft, and break-ins are remarked upon and/or experienced more than sports games. I’ve slept with a night guard outside my home for the first time in my life and more padlocks adorn the house than I have the patience to count. We reside in a “safe” neighborhood from what everyone tells me and the most noise I’ve heard past seven at night are the fat, healthy cats in heat that traipse along our razor blade fenced wall; I have not yet felt truly, physically, unsafe. On a night out, I still check that my baby can of Mace is on the outside of my purse or if I’m running out the door after dusk for a quick snack I’ll squirrel away my trusty Smith and Wesson pocket knife or slip on a double knuckled pyramid ring, but only because old habits die hard.
The fear that rests on my shoulders more than having my throat slit on a sleazy side street in Southeast Asia is a bit trickier. I wrestle nightly with having left my closest friends back home and the deafening silence between each iMessage being sent and received from Mills or Nikki or Moko or any other individual I adore. And with a fourteen hour time difference a deeper appreciation for my fellow insomniac friends has also increased. This is not to say I wish I were living back home because I truly, honestly don’t miss the United States (yet?). I simply, selfishly, would appreciate everyone I love to be here to do stupid things like take trips to the grocery, lazily kick over mosquito coils and drink martinis on a balmy patio.
It is completely disorienting, mentally, emotionally and even physically, to relocate to a place where you have no real social connections or friends who have seen you past braces (metaphorically, these canines came naturally) and training bras (again metaphorically, I never actually made it out of the training stage). With this, the internal walls I had built around the broken, secret and vulnerable parts of myself were abruptly forced to come down as soon as I stepped onto foreign ground. I would think it would be the opposite, that those psychotic screens and guards would fly up into place as soon as I set down in a strange environment but I was thrown head first into such a fury of complicated relationships between man and country that I simply did not have the time to tread carefully.
Now I face the decision of how high I want to rebuild those walls, and when I do, where to leave the gaps so once in a while someone may get a glimpse into the deepest and strangest parts. Possibly even leave a crack thin enough to fully break through.
Then I get a creeping suspicion that I just may be severely mistaken and incredibly stupid to think that I am the architect of these things.
I’d like to think that’s the case.