Here in Cambodia, I’m alone.
The families that are here, who have so selflessly uprooted themselves and moved so far away, are surrounded by the people they love most. The wives have their husbands, the husbands their wives. The moms, their kids. The kid, their parents. The only one who could identify with my level of loneliness and homesickness is Lily, and I’m not even sure where she’s at with her level of loneliness and homesickness, I just know that she is also here alone.
And, dammit, it’s hard to be so alone, so often.
People have said, “yes, but look at the community you have here!”
Yes. I have friends here. But these friends are not the people who I have done life with over the past twenty two years. These are the folks who have molded and shaped me into who I am. These are not the people who have raised me, disciplined me, taught me, encouraged me, loved me through my darkest moments.
The people here are new friends, and there is nothing wrong with that. New friends bring freshness, they bring exciting stories and a blank slate to create new ones on. New friends are awesome because making new friends means listening and learning about this new person. It means learning who they are, what makes them tick, what their story is, how did they come to this place of now… and that is an exciting, wonderful thing to be a part of. I love my new friends.
But I miss my old ones.
Specifically, I miss my family.
I’ve never been the girl who was so extremely close with her family. We fought sometimes. There would be screaming contests and wrestling and hitting and kicking and nail-digging. There would be cutting words and hair pulling (I am one of three daughters) and “I’m going to tell Mom”’s.
I spent Thanksgiving of my Freshman year of college in St. Augustine for a few days, enjoying the city. By myself.
Sophomore year I stayed at my sister’s apartment while she was out of town and then for Thanksgiving I went to my friend’s grandmother’s beach house in Daytona.
One New Year’s Eve I flew to Baltimore to hang out with a friend for a week.
I’ve spent a few birthdays away from my family.
This last New Year’s, I went out with friends.
This last birthday, I went to dinner with friends instead of with my family.
I’ve not been the best daughter or sister that I could have been.
And now that I am here, so far away from these people who I have fought with and loved so hard, I miss them so terribly. Because, while my sisters and I did fight and yell, there were a lot of times when we got along and enjoyed each other.
Like all those game nights playing RISK or Texas Hold ‘Em Poker at the kitchen table with Dad. Or when we played Scrabble. Or when we watched movies, or went to dinner, or went to the theatre, or ran to the gas station for tea and slushies, or to the Redbox for a cheap movie.
We had fun. We enjoyed each other and liked each other and I miss those moments of togetherness.
Do you hear me, Juli? Are you reading this, Frankie?
I miss you both. I miss you both so much that it hurts and I just wish that my arms were long enough to reach you and hug you so tight. I am so thankful for you both. I am who I am because of who you two are. I am stubborn and bull-headed and sarcastic because we grew up together. I am patient and forgiving and generous because you encouraged me to be. I am so terribly sorry for not hanging out with you more, for not loving you harder, for not treating you nicer, for not hugging you more. I’m so sorry that I just want to do all these things now. I miss you so much. I cannot wait to get home and just hug you. That’s all I want to do. (And get pedicures, but whatever.)
And Mom and Dad? Do you stalk my blog, too?
I love you. I miss you. I want so desperately to have you here with me right now. I want so desperately to be home with you right now. I want to hold your hands and sit on the couch and watch NCIS or Big Bang Theory or NASCAR or the news. Dad, I want to go to a UCF football game with you and watch the Knights play. Mom, I want to visit you at work and bring you a diet Coke or a tea and sit and annoy you while you scold some kid who got in trouble. I miss you. I love, love, love you both so much. I am so thankful for having you in my life because you created me. Your love, and dedication, and commitment, and selflessness, and encouragement, and bravery, and faith helped make me into the woman I am today.
I miss you, Family. I just want to hug you all. It is so hard to not see you every day, and I hate how I took that for granted for so long.
**If you see any of my family, please hug them for me. Just a big, giant, loving hug. And tell them it’s from Cambodia.