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Report 2A–Dragon Fruit Observations

A dragon fruit is magenta and bulbous, flanked by scale-like folds edged in green. The whole thing is slighty bigger than the space between my cupped hands. Rubbery skin pulls away from the fruit easily. The first one I had was beet red inside with a million kiwi-like seeds randomly shot through the meat. Most are white inside—a bit less spectacular but still lovely. The taste is mostly refreshing, mildly sweet and a tiny bit tangy–a cool shower for the inside.

Now that I’ve had my midday dragon-fruit snack on my second Sunday in Phnom Penh, there is so much to sort out. I’m erupting with free-floating impressions, insights, memories, images, micro analyses as random as the crunchy seeds of my snack.

As usual, issues surrounding time are intriguing and elusive for me. I’ve been here for two weeks—longer than I’ve ever been any one place I’ve traveled to, since 1973. I’m filled with so much in so short a time—or is it a long time? It’s just under 1/6th of my stay here.

I’m set: apartment-wise, clothes wise; feeling-in-a-groove wise—at least for this stage of the adventure. I’m finding it easy and pleasant to meet people—well, expats. There’s that easy connection of the far-from-home. I’ve had fabulous conversations with Embling, my neighbor working on the war crimes trials,, Jill, my hostess, Belinda my enthusiastic go-er; Udo the business adventurer, Chris and Bob, the retirees, Kathleen and Dale, the Minnesotans, and Claire the Fulbright English teacher in Vietnam.

I’ve pretty much figured out how to send messages, emails, posts and photos out into the world to connect with those who may be interested. The traveler accords these smallish items their due. Each is an accomplishment and a link in the comfort chain. I suppose it’s odd and terribly logical that as we seek to shed the comforts of home we rush to replace them in the new locale.

Miriam, the stuff-wrestler has stripped down. I’m swimming in my one bedroom apartment. I’ve left behind the accumulations that usually grab my attention and ease my path from here to there and from today to tomorrow. These tropical days, my brain can forget the ballast that would whisper doubt; remind me of the sweetness and pains of the past; beg for review and revision, organization and attrition. It’s left to work its schemes a million miles away, where it cannot push on me.

This kind of deprivation is a pumice stone that reveals skin ready to absorb new wonders and levels of, need, want and meaning. And there are so many new things for which I’ve not even heard the language of barter. I’m still seeing entirely new levels of detail on each pass through now-familiar routes: laundry hung on the top floor; orderly rows of plants to make a garden and a bit of privacy on my tiny street; big-eyed babies shown proudly, Mom waving tiny arms; the woman perched on the roof of a building in the sunrise pink. This is what I’m here for: the new; the different; the people, the work and the passions. I relish the miles beneath my feet and the notches on my wonderment: one for time; some for space and plenty more for work, play, release, repose and connection.