Stickman Readers' Submissions June 23rd, 2008

Complete and Utter Happiness – Part 2

Cambodia as a country and N as a woman were now well and truly etched into my heart and mind. When I got back home, my family of course knew I had met someone and they were all very happy for me. Even my father and brother, who in their younger days were
quite racist, (“bloody Asians this, bloody Asians that”) were very happy for me. I only told a few friends because I wasn’t sure how all this was going to turn out and I didn’t want the world watching as I pursued N.
I worked diligently at my job and went though the motions of normal life but all I could think about was returning for a second visit to Cambodia as soon as was possible. Given I had no money and no holidays owing to me, I was going to have to
be very patient.

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Luckily I had a very nice computer and a great internet connection and for the next 6 months, Yahoo IM was my lifeline to N. I had never used IM before but after a few very expensive phone calls to N, we figured out how and when we could
be online together. I bought a web camera and I will never forget seeing her waving back at me from a Phnom Penh café for the first time. I almost cried. Pretty much every day we would get online at the allotted time. It was usually my dinner
time so I would sit there stuffing my face and drinking beer whilst she sipped on a coke and slowly typed out her best English. When I look back now her diligence and commitment were extraordinary. Whilst her spoken English was quite good, it
cannot have been easy to type for hours on an English keyboard AND she was paying for her internet hours. Sometimes she would bring her sister or a friend and we would have a little internet party, waving to each other and drinking together and
drawing pictures for each other. Sometimes I would get my little Kelpie pup to jump up on my lap and wave her paw at N. Sounds stupid and immature I guess but I have really fond memories of those nights spent tapping away on the PC and I owe Yahoo
BIG for the conduit it provided us.

Before I knew it I was telling N “Guess what Sweetheart?….I am coming over in 6 weeks for a month!” N was utterly beside herself “Don’t joke with me!” She actually broke down crying on the PC in front
of me and when I held up the airline ticket to the camera, I started crying as well!

For the next few weeks we then laughed and carried on and I was crossing off the days on a big calendar I had stuck on the wall. Luckily Air Asia started flying to Bangkok just before I bought a ticket so I got a ridiculously cheap airfare and on Christmas
Day I flew out with high expectations and a tiny backpack. I was stoked to be missing the usually hectic and sometimes volatile family Christmas and stoked that in 24 hours or so, I would be seeing N again. However I had trepidations. Would it
really be the same as last time or was it just a one off thing, never to be repeated? How would I find Cambodia the second time around? Was it really as amazing and interesting as I had first thought or again, did I just have a great holiday?
I have a rule of thumb that if I have a great time in a country I never go back because I don’t want to spoil the memory and my first trip to Cambodia was sheer bliss. At any rate, getting on the plane was the best feeling of my life and
the pilots could not fly it fast enough for me.

After a night in Bangkok I was soon hitting the tarmac and again walking out into the searing heat of Phnom Penh. This time I actually got down and kissed the runway and I think everyone thought I was crazy. N had insisted on coming to the
airport and as the minutes ticked down whilst I checked through customs and immigration, the butterflies in my stomach got bigger and bigger. Finally I was clear of all the red tape and walked out into the throng of waiting faces and after a brief
look around….there stood N. With her gorgeous smile, black silky hair and big brown eyes, she was all waving hands and we went for each other like a couple of magnets. I am choking up even now as I write this and remember the feeling of having
her in my arms again. The butterflies got squashed within seconds and we were soon in the back of a taxi heading downtown to my hotel. We chatted away incessantly and it was just amazing for both of us to be back together again after 6 months.
After checking into the hotel I gave her some presents I had bought for her and then I told her I needed to have a shower and a nap and then I would come over to the family apartment. N told me the family were all eagerly awaiting my return and
off she went.

The next month was spent touring all over the countryside. We went to Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri and Kratie and back down to Kep. I made sure I spent a week getting to know her family in Phnom Penh and that second trip was every bit as good
as the first, maybe better because it was affirming everything I had hoped might come true. N and I grew closer and closer with every day and I met up with people I had met the first time around and made some inroads into finding a job which was
a lot easier than I thought. We talked about all sorts of things, including the (our) future. I professed to her that I loved her and I loved her country. I told her I was bored shitless back home and I wanted to come and live in Cambodia to pursue
our relationship and a newer, (hopefully) more interesting life. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing really wrong with my life back home but I just knew there was more out there for me. We had already talked online about the ramifications
of her being taken back to a small redneck town in the west where she would have no Khmer family or friends or culture etc and she was very happy we were talking openly and N was very happy that I wanted to come to Cambodia to live and work.

Of course the second trip had to come to an end just as the first trip did and as I packed my bag in my hotel on the last night, I remember swearing to myself that that would be the last time I would leave Cambodia as a tourist. Earlier that
night I met with her mother (father not on the scene) and via translation from a friend, I told her mother I was not going to be a twice a year visitor, that I was going to work on coming back as quick as I could to live in Cambodia and that I
had decent intentions for her daughter. I also thanked her for letting us get to know each other without too many restrictions. Her mother (14 years older than me) told me that she had thought I was a decent guy from the moment she laid eyes on
me and that as long as N and I were happy, she was happy. I am really glad I had that talk as many of you know that paying respect to the parents is very important. I didn’t have the talk to tick a box, I genuinely wanted to look her mother
in the eyes and reassure her that I was not taking The Mickey with her daughter.

Another farewell at the airport but this time things were entirely different. This time we parted with a “I love you and I will see you when I get back”. I had found a partner and now my head was in overdrive planning the logistics
of relocating. All I knew was that I had to make it happen come hell or high water. How could I achieve this? Would it even be possible? Was I insane?

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Stickman's thoughts:

Not insane at all! Where is part 3?!

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