I knew it was coming. He’d talked about leaving often, and it was always more a question of “when,” not “if.” I was clearly in denial, though, because when I got a message from him on a Monday saying he’d booked a flight and was moving to Bangkok on Saturday, I just stared at my phone for about three minutes before the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I think my reply message was, “Well, goddamn it.”
And, while a best friend moving away might not sound like a huge deal, it sure feels like it to me right now. Because it’s hard enough to be away from all the love and support back home. And I know there are other people here in Phnom Penh who also have already supported me, and have already shown their love in ways that I could never have expected and am certain I don’t deserve. I think people kind of get used to the culture of people leaving here. You make quick bonds, and you know they will have to stretch over distances when at least one of the people inevitably leaves. I’m finding that’s not so easy. Especially when it’s someone with whom you really click.
I wasn’t the only thing left behind in this situation, though. There’s a good story about a nearly-missed flight and things left behind that I’ll save for a face-to-face telling (teaser: it involves a $2 bill and a hammock).
But yesterday, after I did a consult (sort of in exchange for a one-way ticket to Malaysia… I’ll write more about that later…), I reached for my phone to message J to ask him if he wanted to meet for a drink or dinner. I stopped short, then forced myself to keep walking because I didn’t want anyone to see the tears welling up in my eyes or notice that I could barely take a full breath.
With J gone, I don’t know who here will always (and I mean always) meet me out for tacos. Or even bring tacos over to my place when I’m too lazy to go out. Or meet me for pizza at 10am after a big night out. Or go see movies at Flicks and refuse to eat while watching a movie because he’ll “only do one thing at a time” out of mindfulness (but will also applaud my choice to heartily eat too much of the amok I ordered). Or argue with a tuk tuk driver in an alley with me over the price to get my lazy self home. Or make me laugh until tears roll down my cheeks and I have to remind myself to breathe. Or talk about topics that are too deep to discuss over pitchers of margaritas (yet always seem to get discussed over pitchers of margaritas). Or listen to me go on and on about the ridiculous philosophical things I’m reading. Or meet me at the wat on short notice to sit for an hour in silent meditation. Or… Or… Or…
Or just be J.
But I know I’ll be okay. (Even if I am little less full of tacos and a little more full of experience being alone.)
A trip to Bangkok is most definitely in order. Soon.