Mastodon Michael Perry

moving to the beat…

Tonight we go to a Cambodian wedding party. If you have not been, it is not a staid and laidback event. Kinda starts that way but soon there is live music dancing. Food and beer goes on into the evening. Sobriety is optional. The event starts at 5pm or whenever people arrive. It ends at some point. We’re going for the free food and beer obviously and to maybe wish the bride a happy life. Also slip some lucky money into an envelope and give away.

That’s the first part of the weekend. Next up we head to Battambang for a long weekend of really nothing at all. We just decided to go and stay at a boutique hotel because the pool looked nice and I have not been there since 2018. Of course, Alin has friends there so perhaps a dinner with them.

I’m with Alin…

That’s what I say a lot at the wedding and probably in Battambang too. I just let her talk Khmer to everyone and do whatever it is necessary to get done. I know probably 10 words in Khmer with lots of coaching. Doing good!

Battambang has some expats around and retirees too. Not like the province where Alin’s mom lives. There are no expats there. I spent two full days there and did not see another western face or hear English spoken. At coffee, the Khmer waitress giggled a lot and blushed when I ordered an iced latte. Why? I dunno.

It was the same going up the mountain to the Preah Vihear temple except for our driver. He spoke good English and insisted on practicing on me.

I bring this up because I am told Alin’s mum wishes us to visit again and spend a weekend in Preah Vihear Province. That is 5 hours driving folks and the roads are fun. So I guess sometime in March maybe we will go. This time, no family to take us thankfully. I would prefer to rent a car or taxi or whatever and go. That way we stop when we want and we don’t have a car full of family with a 2 month old baby and two young boys getting boisterous in the backseat with boredom.

Coffee time too

This morning we went for coffee and talked a bit. It turns out Alin dislikes expats at a basic level. I had told her I felt detached from the community and she thinks it is good to not be a member as much as possible and just enjoy a few friendships if I have them. Truth is, I don’t. It dawned on me after we talked, getting older is hell on making friendships. It took me a decade or longer to find Alin. Friendships with men is something I have no idea how to do any longer. I have a few people I know. If pressed, I would not call them buddies, pals, comrades, or friends. I am not sure what they are. People that call sometimes and ask to hang out for a meal or beer. Others interested in meeting Alin like in Vietnam. Are those people friends? I think of all the people there, there are Vietnamese people I feel more akin to than all the expats with a few exceptions in Hanoi. Here in Cambodia, I don’t do friendships. I have a person with my name I meet every so often I have known for about 5 years. We drink sometimes and meet for food. I don’t think he is a friend.

What the F is a friend? I have no idea. I have Alin. I have my daughter. Life is full it feels like sometimes without expats knocking at the door. I particularly dislike western expats and try to stay away from them at all costs.

Anyways, just consider it if you are getting older. Perhaps a thing that falls away is the ease of making friendships. Relationships with women seemed impossible until lately but the whole thing with Alin is different because both of us were alone and wanting and she wished to have the person fill her heart. No one did until I came along. I felt more of this but it seems hidden under the years.

So that is moving to the beat of life. Of people. Of those few people I find room in my heart to care about. I think they know who they are. No need to pass around names.

March 16, 2023