Today is Friday. My birdboy left yesterday on the 5pm ferry. He’s gone for another year, and I’m grey.
We had a day of fun: cast-iron farm breakfast of ham, eggs and potatoes, coveting an electric smoker at the thrift compound near Roche Harbor, a beautiful hike along the island’s edge where we saw nice things in tidepools, running past the stench of a rotting deer, last minute scoldings, and some yummy Mexican food.
I took off from the ferry landing, dropped off some magazines at the magazine exchange outside the hardware store, then spun the 3 miles or so back from the ferry landing to my yellow water tower, where I trudged up the stairs, plonked down, and felt sad.
To keep myself busy, I took pictures of saffron for a new project I’m working on, details to be announced soon. Then I started researching grad programs and did some reading and made some comforting hot chocolate and ate too many Cadbury eggs — the kind with the candy pastel shell.
July 25, 2009 No Comments
Cambodians with their hard-core family values are always shocked when they hear I’m here alone, and constantly asking whether I’m lonely (“op sop?”). At first, the answer was honestly no, there was too much to do and see and cook and think about, but after I came back from a brief jaunt with my family over in the USA, I got a little sad, and sometimes a lot sad — especially when I didn’t keep busy.
I think, though, that even worse than sadness or boredom, is the self-indulgence and egocentrism of living without the norming influence of other people (especially in a place where unannounced visitors are pretty improbable). That’s why I think there are certain stigmas associated with living alone that I think are entirely justified. The appearance of Raja the cat circa month 3 doesn’t necessarily make things any better — crazy cat lady is something that still scares any misanthropic tendencies straight out of most young women.
Hermits run around naked in the deep woods and eat snakes and tubers and maybe even psychedelic mushrooms they find lying around. I refrain from the drugs, but I’ve been known to lie around without a scrap on reading a new book (or, let’s be honest here — watching 4-5 episodes of Gilmore Girls in a row) and eating my refrigerator empty on a Sunday afternoon. No wonder Mr. Sambath noticed the 9 extra kilos. And the #1 problem with this type of behavior is that it’s addictive and the further you let yourself go into the antisocial, self-centered spiral, the more difficult it is to dig yourself out. When you become irritable when company’s coming because that means you have to put your clothes back on, that’s when you know it’s gone too far.
The physical seclusion aside, emotional and mental solitude are also tough. Even when I venture out with friends here, it’s very difficult to get critical input or opinions on what I’m thinking. I have recently been reflecting on my experience here and considering what I want to do next when I come back and all the ideas floating in my head seem exciting and possible, but also maybe trite and crazy (?) and what I really need is a sounding board.
November 22, 2008 No Comments
This has been the week of the funk. A deep, pathetic funk that settled like a large alien object way down deep into the pit of my stomach, so that I felt too heavy to get out of bed in the morning and couldn’t concentrate on anything I was supposed to be working on. The seed of funk was planted way back in August when Jaime came to visit and I took the trip home for a few days.
It took some time to germinate. I kept busy with movie making, new friends, trips out to Phnom Penh, and various illness, but eventually it sprouted into an ugly, self-pitying, anxiety-ridden goblin that fed on feelings of isolation, uselessness, and insecurity about the future.
I’m trying various forms of therapy — company for Pchum Ben, long bike rides, recruiting my coworkers for various social outings — but this exorcism appears to be taking some patience and dedication to ongoing self-treatment.
My prescription combines lots of happy music, exercise, riding my moto with my hair flying in the wind, looking forward to trips out to the field and to my travel plans in Singapore and Thailand, meditating on self-affirming phrases (“Yes, I’m healthy, happy and strong”), and forcing myself to be social even when I would rather ball up under a sheet tent in my bed.
October 11, 2008 1 Comment
It’s 8:01 Saturday morning and it’s been a bit over half-an-hour since my lovely friends Clara and Nico left. So far I’ve washed some dishes, started some packing, fed the cat, discovered a big cut on my right foot.
But now, before I commence with moving all my stuff downstairs (my landlord recently decided to let my flat to a German woman and has decided that I have to move)… I’m going to indulge myself and give in to the sadness and the slow-moving violin accompaniment in my head.
Last night the three of us had a last hurrah at Frank’s bar, with cocktails, a bottle of wine, and some beouf bouignon, just like France. This morning, I sent them off with coffee, omlettes and potatoes to Siem Reap. And now I’m sitting in my half-emptied house alone, contemplating what to do with myself this weekend, this month, and in life.
Being by myself generally suits me just fine. I must have a limited store of social energy and all my solitary time lets me bottle it up in reserve for times when I need to be at my scintillating best. But having just come off of a three-week tour with Jaime, a flurry of merry-making with my new French friends, and ten exhilarating days hiking, biking, and generally living it up with my own family, this sudden isolation is startling and sad.
Sure, all good things must come to an end, but why must they all end at once and so abruptly?
(on a random note, the folks at the Expat Women Blog Directory asked me to submit my blog to their site. It’s weird to consider myself an “expat” still. For some reason it conjures up images of old white men with Cambodian girlfriends. But anyway…)
August 23, 2008 No Comments