Saturday, May 10, 2008


Well, let’s add to the list things I have done in Cambodia. I just got hit by a car.
I could leave you concerned and wondering until the very end, but I won’t, my parents are reading. I’m ok. Nothing serious, just a bit shaken.
Today is Friday. Fridays are easy and not too stressful. So I left school, because we have half days and came home to clean. Tim and Fay are gone to Thailand and I always miss them when they leave. They are my roommates and support. But I was ok and made plans so I wouldn’t be lonely.
I had things I wanted to get done, then I was going to run some errands and get a foot massage. I ride my bike just about everywhere. So I got to Kanya massage and a Khmer woman speaking very little English greeted me, “Jim-ripsooah. Soosday bong srey!” Kanya massage is an NGO started for acid burn victims who can’t get work anywhere else. People who are disabled or who look differently are treated horribly. This woman is obviously a burn victim with shiny-looking skin covering her a face, yet she is honestly beautiful. I told her “srey sa-at” which means “beautiful”. She put her head down and chuckled. I hope she believed me. I thoroughly enjoyed the $2 massage. Just as I was about to leave, the rains came. It is officially rainy season and when it rains, it rains! It dumps. She ran off to the back of the house. Then started screaming, “Bong srey! Bong srey! Which I assume is “sister” or something. I followed the voice and I found her outside the back door with her hand waving through the window like she was waving a white flag in surrender. She had apparently locked herself out and was giggling and screaming even as I opened the door. I laughed too. She handed me the poncho she had run off to get. She helped me put it on over my backpack.
I braved the always busy streets through the 4 inches of rain that had already accumulated. The poncho hood was tightened so, there was only a narrow space that I could see through. I was immediately soaked, but was still glad for the poncho hopefully protecting my lap top in my backpack. I was headed to Logos to meet Polly to watch a video with her kids. It isn’t far. Still, it seemed to take much longer in the rain.
Ben, a teacher at CAS, waved to me from a passing moto. Just as I was approaching the entrance to the school, a car came from behind me and hit my left hip. I tried to correct myself but the combination of water, surprise, and nerves sent me tumbling onto my left side. I screamed as I fell. But that was only nice entertainment for the dozen or so Khmers sitting along the road. A few of them started laughing, but none of them moved and the car just drove off. As I laid there in the dirty, flowing water, with my bike piled on top of me, I just wanted to cry. I just wanted to somehow be magically teleported to my warm, cozy bed at home. Not my Cambodian home. Home, home. But that didn’t happen and instead I looked up to see Ben running back towards me. I got up, surprisingly able and ok to stand, realizing my lap top must have padded my fall. He approached me sputtering, “Are you ok? Here you take this moto home and I will ride your bike! Oh my gosh, can you walk?” I was right in front of Logos school, but not really thinking I said, “No, I’m meeting Polly to watch a movie!” He looked at me like, “You’re kidding right?” As I stood there with my pink poncho stuck to my wet body, my now-broken pair of favorite black sandals, dirt on my face, and my once trusty, now mangled bike, I hobbled into the school past the snickering guards.
In the time it took me to find Polly I realized I should’ve just gone back with Ben. He was so sweet to offer, but I was obviously confused and stubborn. I told Polly what happened and that I just wanted to go home. It was a short ride back to the compound, by then the rain was letting up. I shuffled to the door, walked inside, locked it behind me and really wished that the Scotts were home. But they aren’t, so instead I took a shower and cried.
Now, I feel surprisingly peaceful. Maybe this is shock. Maybe I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. My butt is bit sore, I have a headache, and my right shoulder doesn’t feel so good. I’ll let you know.
All in all, I feel like, getting hit by a car is just another part of the Cambodian experience. I’ve almost been expecting it all year. I might feel differently if I was lying in the hospital right now, but I am not. So I am going to do my best to focus on the positives the devil is talented at hiding from my memory.
I woke up today. I laughed with my students. Joanna asked, “Ms.Bo, what does ‘Oh bloody hell’ mean?” (sad, but still kinda funny). I got an email from my sister. I taught the high schoolers “The O Song”, ya know, from summer camp? I have become physically immune to Cambodia because I haven’t been sick the last two months. Yay! I didn’t binge last night. My 10th graders taught me how to play a Khmer game called “sey” much like American hacky-sack. Yup, I’m ok.
Getting hit by a car and sitting in the middle of the street, humiliated is never fun. But I’m ok. Being groped by that creep back in January was awful, awful. But I’m ok. Continually fighting depressive thoughts and an eating disorder is painful and exhausting. But I’m ok.
So when someone carelessly asks, “How are you?” and I say, “I’m ok”. I mean it. I’m not great. I’m not fantastic. I am not loving this. But I’m ok, and right now, that is good enough for me.

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