My Off White Romance 2November 6, 2008
The bus ride was physically and emotional uncomfortable. Angst-ridden and heartbroken, the bus was crowded, stuffy, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to a soldier in camouflage who felt that it was ok to rest his leg against mine. The fabric was hot to the touch. Luckily, he got off halfway at that food stand bus riders are forced to endure. I am not sure what it is about the need have a rest stop on a four hour trip, but I am pretty sure it has to do with a payoff.
I arrived in Sihanoukville in late afternoon. After laying my bags on the bed of a (relatively) clean guesthouse a walk away from the beach, I ventured out, not knowing quite what to do and with my mind filled with thoughts and emotions. Why one of those thoughts was not to settle down in Phnom Penh, I do not know. It clearly would have been the solution to the problem. The prospect of losing her pervaded my thoughts, pushing rational thought to the periphery.
I walked on Occheteal Beach, the hot white sand squeaking under my feet. I sat in a lounge chair under an umbrella and drank Heinekens until far past sunset. From where I was sitting, I could see the night sky cut by fire in circular shapes. I walked down to where there was a large BBQ and many people eating, drinking, and enjoying animated conversation. I sat down at an empty table and ate dinner and drank. The Khmer man with the oiled chest swung cans filled with fire, making shapes and patterns as the many conversations almost drown out the sound of the ebb and flow onto the shore.
I decided to go back home. I was just torturing myself and she wasn’t going to come to me. I took the noon ferry to Koh Kong and by midnight, I was in Bangkok. It wasn’t until noon of the next day that I checked my email. What I saw very nearly questioned my sanity. It was a string of emails from the woman who I was certain would not show. I read them in order with the first saying she had arrived in Sihanoukville until the last saying she was heartbroken and wondered if I was ok or not. I couldn’t believe I had so misunderstood this woman’s feelings for me. I decided to forget the whole thing and took the plane back to the States the next day.
I was at a low point in my life. Very rarely have I ever felt love for a woman. This was only the third time and it felt different than the others. It felt real and she would make the perfect wife, I knew this. I felt like a kite that had its string cut; it is subject to the wind and has control of neither its own course nor its own will. I didn’t want to stay in the States. I didn’t want to make an effort to reintegrate into that society. The downfall of the Rome, the sun setting on the British Empire, and the devolution of the States into my version of dystopia all seemed inevitable in the natural course of time.
I believe I am not alone amongst ex-pats in my feelings that I don’t belong in the country of my birth. It is more than that: it is a complete rejection of the values and the society in general. I walk around and see people with their “normal” lives and cannot imagine how I could ever be happy like that; making money, being highly taxed, and a part of all the societal dysfunction and hatred. I felt so far removed from the masses.
I tried to convince myself that I wanted to be there. I moved into an apartment in Los Angeles and began working in finance. I corresponded with her by email and messenger everyday. I worked hard and tried to think of how we could be together, what was the correct path to take. Late night and after a great many beers, I told her that if we were to ever meet again, that she should come visit me in Los Angeles. I professed my love for her and told her that she was truly a beautiful and perfect woman. I meant what I said, but I knew, or at least thought, that the idea was ludicrous and that she would not come, not be able to get a visa, and would think the idea was not feasible.
Just as before, I was absolutely wrong. Not only did she take my suggestion as an invitation, but it seems that she has a connection at the US embassy and got a tourist visa approved the next day. By the weekend, she had a visa and a plane ticket and was sending me emails professing her love for me in no uncertain terms. She assumed the invitation was for an extended stay and was planning on spending two months with me. I was in shock, awe, and elated more than I could imagine. A beautiful, young, intelligent woman and she was interested in me. The most amazing this is that she wasn’t asking me for anything. She was going to pay for the trip herself. This clearly was an indication of her love for me and I knew it was a true and pure love. My mind cleared and suddenly everything made sense. She would fly in at the end of the month.
To be continued