January 10, 2023
Four a.m. mornings come quickly when you’re jet-lagged. They come especially fast when you were awake to see the 3 turn over on your bougie hotel’s bedside clock. I feel the last chunk of my life has been marred by some form of jet lag or sleep disturbance. Admittedly, I’ve blurred the line between jet lag, sleep deprivation, or some type of sleep disorder throughout much of my adult life - a defense mechanism or sick adaptation built in to get me through a grueling academic pursuit and some mild success in a career and life that feels so far away now. My life has become a beautifully wild adventure, one I’ve furiously created and cultivated by way of extreme sacrifice, hard work, and mostly the congruence of opportunity and luck. Today, at this ungodly hour, my life continues (and my day begins) in Cambodia.
Four a.m. mornings come quickly for Charya as well. As the city of Phnom Penh awakes around him, a dense city defined by significant income/opportunity disparity and populated by beautifully kind people (with the odd tourist and expat thrown in to mix it up), Charya is up and ready to work. His feet are still sore from the day before, but his circumstances don’t allow for the flexibility of an off-day. His wife, Lotus, pregnant with their 3rd child and limping from a fall down the stairs of the small bedroom home they share with 8 people, toils behind me prepping the bags that will serve as the last transport for their chickens' final destination. Manning the grill, Charya, whose name translates to “man of good character”, flips the birds and keeps the heat hot while dancing around the plumes of smoke that have long since burned my eyes as I snap some of my first pictures of the day. I don’t know why, but sharing some of these raw moments of the day-to-day life of the people and places I visit helps rationalize or justify my being here, or at least keep me busy before I inevitably fly off on another adventure, leaving this interaction and others like it to fade into my memory and/or social ether, for that matter.