When it all came to it…
This blog has crossed over a few times from diary to blog or whatever. I think perhaps it is a speaker for a life spent first vagabonding around for some years but more importantly about what it is that happened this year meeting my wife Alin. I’ve told that story a few times here about meeting her in a bar, having her fix me with this intense gaze, and then me taking her to my room for the night. The first night of many nights of her sleeping with me.
This time though I want to transcend that and speak of a thing which came up today in a rather intense discussion. Some could say this is more apt to happen in a relationship across cultures. There are differences between Khmer and American. Big things and small things. I’ve found a few I talked about but there are also universals shared I think by almost every culture. I want to talk about one.
Honesty. Yeah. That is a big word in so few letters really. We sat down today to talk about some big issues for us as a couple. I won’t belabor them but what it all came down to was me having the courage to bring up some of the things and her asking questions of me that provoked more talk. What I found today was that my wife, my Khmer wife, told me down the line how she loved me, would always be with me, wanted to care for me. It was challenging because it is a financial thing and money here is something different. We are viewed here as rich expats. Plenty of money to throw around. I’m not. I have always had enough and even more in savings to just go where I please. It was easy when it was one person. I could eat cuppa noodles on a night easily although I never did. But now I have to care for the two of us. Alin has medical issues and she always will have them. I have issues with wanting to do everything for her to make her happy.
She was not angry or mad or crying. I felt hurt and sad like I had failed at this one job. In the end, she told me she never wants to leave me, loves me completely, and we will work together on the things. She does not expect jewelry or fancy items. I have none of those. She mentioned a few times I am a person with only few possessions. It comes down to the iPhone and this MacBook.
Lessons to be learned from today
There is only one. Be honest with your partner. Do not create a false sense of “okay” when things are not. We set out to talk through them and some of the cultural things did come up as well as language issues. It took a few times explaining some concepts for both of us. She really wanted to talk in Khmer and I would not get it. We settled for an hour of honesty.
What we both learned I think is that neither of us wants to be away from the other. We both waited too long and suffered. She felt there was no one ever to love her again and I felt like damaged goods and I had since the divorce. The other thing was acceptance of what had happened to me with the divorce. I had never accepted the outcome and came up with a “living with this” thing. That does not work but it took finding Alin to love to take away the final marks. I was able to simply let go of those last things after 12 years. A relief.
It is fair to say we worked through some false things as we went. I learned just how sensitive and caring and devoted she is to me. She felt she failed me because of her medical issues. I felt I failed her because I could not take care of her as I wanted. We settled to simply love each other. To always talk about things openly and honestly and respect the cultural and language issues and work around them and through them.
One thing we both have known is we cannot be apart from each other. I simply must hold her hand to get coffee, kiss her good night, turn to her when I’m sad or feeling down. I must hear her say,
lovely. How are you today? Did you know I love you?
And so dinner came and went and I felt this touching warmth even from a somewhat distant smile of hers sitting across the table from me. She looked into my eyes. Those wonderful and mysterious Khmer eyes that always make me feel like they can cut through my defenses, find my heart and soul, live there forever.
Maybe you knew all this before but it has been a learning experience with a Cambodian woman. I found out I can have so many Khmer friends that love and respect me, can enjoy some time and a beer with them, have them always hug me and say hello Mike. But I cannot be one with them. I simply cannot be a Khmer person nor do I want to. I also walked this other path for awhile of being an American expat. That path is difficult for me too. I simply do not care for expats or as Khmer call them barang. They all seem to be shallow and inept or entitled and arrogant. So I moved away from them as much as I could.
I have to say though having a Khmer wife is a joy but it is also work. Never have I felt so cared for and loved but what we found today is that the universal in it all is honesty.
And I’m glad. Glad to have written this post and glad to be done. Will be glad to see my wife when she comes back from visiting Khmer friends. To simply look at her again for the first time.
Take care dear readers. Remember about honesty.