My Off-White Khmer Romance 3November 12, 2008
She flew in on a beautiful Southern California summer day. As it turned out, we would indeed have lots of time to spend together as I had quit my job the week before. In retrospect, there were two problems with this scenario: the woman and I would be together day and night, and my mood was negatively affected by the life change. I was, however, elated to see her, and we hugged in the airport and she cried.
It was a long ride back to the apartment and traffic was terrible. Los Angeles is rather beautiful, but this in no way extends to the freeways. We got back to the apartment and I could tell she was exhausted from her trip, but she wanted to go out and see L.A. I took for a scenic ride through the Hollywood Hills and we had a nice dinner on the Sunset Strip. We got along well and we both were very excited to be together, but there were many quiet spots in the conversation. The conversation was also extremely superficial. It wasn’t like we were going to discuss the economy or foreign affairs.
As we drove back to my apartment, the conversation dried up completely. I couldn’t think of anything to say. My mind was racing as to the possibilities for the evening and I realized that I was not concentrating as much on driving safely as I should have been. I don’t know what she was thinking about, but the sexual tension in the air was palatable. I think she felt it, too. It was like a high school prom date and something was going to happen. Usually it is a good idea to have a plan of action with a woman, but with her, there was no frame of reference. I simply didn’t know Khmer culture very well and was going to let the situation unfold the only way I knew how.
Once inside the apartment, we embraced again. It was a more intimate embrace that at the airport. I desired her more than any woman before her. Looking back, it could only have been a result of the pent-up feelings we had for one another mixed with the freedom we now had away from the attention (positive or negative) that mixed couples are exposed to in Cambodia. Add into the mix a raw lust bordering on the uncivilized and there was to be only one conclusion to the evening.
I took her into the bedroom and made passionate love to her. Two things were certain: she was not a virgin and she had been hiding the most beautiful body I had ever seen under a plain clothes disguise. It was a sweet and soft passion-filled night. She was not skilled in the art of lovemaking, but was a very willing and eager partner. Exhausted, we held each other tight and softly kissed. Then she spoke the words that would eventually end the relationship.
“I think we should get married soon.”
(Extremely long pause). “Uh…………well, that is certainly something to consider. But I don’t think we should talk about marriage until we have known each other at least a year.”
That came across exactly for what it was: a canned speech I had memorized and have repeated countless times for all the wannabe next Mrs. Jack Deckards. My first marriage didn’t exactly end as planned, and I wasn’t going to rush into the next one. I should have more carefully considered and responded to what she said rather than to deflect her obviously thought out suggestion. Instead, I came off as blowing her off. It was not what I had planned, but I was scared and didn’t want to get pulled into the conversation. In silence, we drifted off to sleep.
We spent a lot of time in Hollywood and Malibu, and even drove down for a day trip to San Diego. We had fun, but we really didn’t have very much to talk about. We had nothing in common. I enjoy exercising as a hobby, and most Khmer are not big into doing things that require expending much energy. We would go to USC and I would run the track and she would sit and watch. I thought a lot about the relationship and whether or not it could work out. I was unemployed and didn’t know what to do, and there was really no way that I could consider marriage to the girl at that time.
I think she took this as rejection rather than reluctance. She had thought this out well, but she wouldn’t explain to me what she thought would be the course to marriage, where we would live, or any of the details. I took it as a cultural difference between us, and that she was expecting me to take the lead in suggesting marriage, making decisions on where to live, and what we would do. I was in no position to do that at the time.
She decided that she was going to the east coast to stay with friends she had who used to live in Phnom Penh. She stayed with me for two weeks and then she walked out of my life forever. I now rationalize that the marriage wouldn’t have worked out well, that I wouldn’t be happy living in Phnom Penh, that she would be able to mentally stimulate me. But a part of me knows that she would have made me happy. Her sweet attitude and the peace she filled me with remain fond memories.
I don’t know whether I made the wrong choice or not. Most people feel that if there is a decision to be made, that there is a right choice and a wrong choice. If the choice turns out badly, automatically one assumes that they made the wrong choice and that the other choice was the right one. But what if both choices are the wrong choices?