This is the end, the end my friends.

It’s been about 23 months and change since my arrival in the Kingdom of Wonder. Tonight at 11:20 PM I will be leaving for America. For the past couple weeks in between running about getting stuff done and summarizing the past 23 months over and over on reports of every kind, I have tried to absorb everything around me and tell myself “you will not see this again, at least for a very long time.” This was a very artificial way of eliciting some kind of closure emotion, and I was left feeling empty.

I remember trying to do that in America when I left – cataloging every tuft of SF fog or Napa winery. I was left feeling the same way.

It wasn’t until my service in Cambodia that those images would leak out in split-second flashes. I would be observing my trainees and get a quick memory of driving to Livermore with my best friend and listening to her argue with her boyfriend about appropriate cookie consumption. I would be riding my bike and suddenly recall my college campus, and how it looked after a rainstorm.

I know my time here is over, and I am very much ready to return. I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be returning to supportive family and friends and an amazing job in one of the most beautiful areas of the United States.

I am also anticipating an emotional adjustment. While America is the land I belong in, there are definitely aspects I have not missed and I do not look forward to being surrounded by. But with every important relationship, you take the good with the not-so-good and do the best you can. America, you’re my country-soul-mate. For better or worse.

Right now, my head is a room so cluttered and over stuffed that I can’t appreciate those visual & emotional mementos from Cambodia that I have been trying to file away. As it happened here, I will slowly come across them as time goes by and America becomes normal again.

Maybe I’ll be stuck in traffic on highway 29 and remember the feeling of a tuk tuk barreling through Phnom Penh.

Maybe I’ll meet someone new and be reminded of the giant smile of my Safety and Security Officer, or my Program Manager’s laugh.

Maybe I’ll be standing in the produce section of a grocery store and miss the feeling of bargaining with the market mings and my indignation when they insisted on offering me carrots.

Maybe I’ll meet with school principals and wonder why they don’t squeeze my upper arm and try to set me up with coworkers.

Thank you for the memories, Cambodia. Thank you for the bad, and how it made me a stronger and more conscientious person. Thank you for the good, I will always keep it in my heart.

Ju’op kinneah bpayl growee. See you next time.