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!
You would think that after living overseas in a third world country I would have developed a thicker skin and to expect the unexpected, and if not that at least be comfortable doing things a bit out of the ordinary.
Evidently this isn’t the case.
Many times, living in a foreign country still feels, well…foreign. Especially when I’m celebrating the third new year of 2014. First, the international on the eve of December 31st, Chinese New Year in February, and now Khmer New Year.
It’s been a fairytale of a first half year in Phnom Penh, almost as if everything good that could happen has, from a new job seemingly crafted for me, a dashing Scotsman in my life, reconnecting with long lost friends along with incredible new ones, and forging even stronger the bond that I have with my best friend also known as my mom. Recently, however, there have been a few things eating away at me, slowly but surely, and making me realize not everything can stay picture perfect forever.
Cambodia has been good to me, and I hope the feelings are mutual. There are things, however, that drive me absolutely bananas. Kids, the stories are true: it’s a land of wonder and charm, but also lives up to its nickname so cheekily given, Scambodia.
These past several days have been a whirlwind of events, sleep schedules, sobriety (or lack thereof), and incredible individuals. My blogging inadequacy stems from my ridiculous self-inflicted agenda, not disinterest.
This week was a sad one for my electronics. My iTouch and Blackberry went missing from my desk drawer (I suspect an installation crew) and my iPhone and wallet were thieved through a friend’s window when I was a bit distracted. If one knows my temperament at all, they would know that generally in situations like this I tend to..what’s the phrase…fly off the handle. A whole basket of “fucks”and “damnits” are thrown around and a vase or bottle of wine may get knocked over in the process, so the calm I exhibited during the whole situation surprised no one more than myself.
As I deliberate over these events, I try and peel apart the situation and understand my failure to react in my normal state of aggression. The only thing I can come up with is that during my one month stint (hey kids back home, I hope you lost your bets. I made it past a month) in Cambodia, I may just have mellowed out. Slightly, let’s be real. I’ve been schooled heavily since my arrival.
I’ve learned to accept that I might be late to things, and that others might be late to things and it’s not a reflection of their care or regard for me, it’s just that things happen that we don’t have control over that will inevitably effect us: a slow tuk tuk driver, no tuk tuk driver, ankle deep rain water blocking any way out, flash diarrhea, lost keys, et cetera.
I’ve learned that you can’t hold on too tightly to things, or people. Nothing belongs to you in the end, we will die alone without our silly things and that could be either very depressing or very freeing; you simply decide for yourself which. Witnessing several break ups, make ups, hook ups, and everything in between I see that nursing love as an expat abroad is a task only for the tenacious. This isn’t to say that it is impossible, as I’ve met some of the most admirable, gorgeous couples here (some apart physically, some here together) and I raise my glass to you dear lovers, you defy the odds.
I’ve learned how important days off are to me. Now that I’m down to one day off a week, I idolize every hour like it’s a chunk of brie wrapped in puff pastry. I’ve learned that it’s okay, actually necessary, to spend some of those hours in solitude to balance my social agenda. I’ve learned that it’s also really fantastic meeting new people and that one can be both anti-social and a complete extrovert symbiotically.
I’ve learned how delicious it is to see someone across the room you had hoped to see and how satisfying locked eyes and a nod can be. I’ve learned how thrilling it is to wade through filthy street water when the rain just refuses to let up. I’ve learned how good a cheeseburger tastes at 3 in the morning when it’s been ordered and delivered straight to the door. I’ve learned how important it is to have a relationship with your mother that knows no bounds, where secrets are a strange idea and that a mutual respect for each other’s space and time is just so necessary. I’ve learned how important it is to keep drawing, reading, and listening to good music even if you’re melting into the floor from being so exhausted. I’ve learned not to jump down stairs because I’ll eventually end up black and blue. I’ve also learned how badly Bactine stings when putting it on scrapes from jumping down said stairs. I’ve learned that my beliefs are important to me, and although I will respectfully listen to other’s, they will not be swayed. I’ve learned how important it is for people to be honest with me about their opinions and histories right off the bat. I’ve learned that I can be jealous to a fault but tender towards real pain.
And I’ve learned that I fall more deeply in love with this country with each passing day. I’ve also learned that although I may have to leave one day, that’s no reason to stop myself from falling hard.