It’s been a hard week. One of those weeks when (think, think back to summer, people!) everything feels too hot, you are always far from water, there is no shady side of the street. But here, in no particular order, is a list of what helped:
1) Your voice. You? You, all of you, the one who answered my phone call, and your voice sounded like jam on new bread and your laugh reminded me of pennies dropping into a fountain. I’ve become a great lover of voices, being so far away from faces.
2) An elephant. I’m on the back of a motorbike — black night, sleepy and distracted, knowing not to really fall asleep because I’d fall right off… and then, calm-as-you-please, I see an elephant just walkin’ in the middle of traffic, led by a man with a rope and a long stick. (For reference: Elephants and a one-bedroom U-Haul box truck are similar in size.)
3) A quick swim. When things got quite stressful, I walked with all speed to the Blue Lime hotel, through the hushed, fancy lobby and out into the tropical garden that surrounds a clear blue pool. I shed my dress onto a deck chair and jumped in, in my underwear.
4) Teaching English. We learned the phrase “easy as pie”. First I had to explain what a pie was. And then I had to actually chomp my teeth onto my tongue to keep from smiling while my student practiced with big, serious eyes. “Easy ass pie? Is it asssss pie? Or azzzz?” I explained: definitely more of a “z” sound. And then I learned this. In Khmer there’s a similar expression, but it’s “easy as eating a banana.”
5) Learning French. I have a couple of French-speaking pals here who are teaching me French bit by bit, revitalizing what I learned in high school. We talked about the earthquake in Japan, and I learned that, speaking of pies and bananas, in France you don’t say the earth’s crust, you say “the peel”.