I miss hugs. Not a particular food, my bed, or even my old routines. Just hugs.
There were four couples in my teaching course, and while I couldn’t imagine making this sort of jump with another person at this point in my life, I envied their closeness.
They had someone to lean on, someone to cry to when class didn’t make sense and the heat got to them, someone who understood where they came from.
They had the kind of knowledge you don’t ask of someone you met a week ago during a classroom discussion of ex-boyfriends.
I’m not against making new friends, but there’s a definite difference between confiding in old friends and learning about the new ones. I’ve been doing too much of the latter for the past couple weeks.
Once I realized the issue, I made sure to reach out to friends from home. It played out like this:
INT. MARADY HOTEL ROOM E501, CAMBODIA – 2230
Megan lies on the bed, staring at the WINDOW above as MONSOON RAINS pour down. TV plays HINDI SOAP OPERA. She has been trying to sleep for hours, but can’t stop thinking about everyone she knows at home going about their mornings while she tries to rest.
Megan checks her PHONE. WiFi still doesn’t work in her room.
INT. MARADY HOTEL HALLWAY, CAMBODIA – 2340 – SLOW ZOOM
Megan walks down hall toward two WICKER CHAIRS soaked by the MONSOON RAINS lashing in open WINDOWS. Outside the WINDOWS, motos and tuk-tuks zoom across highway overpasses. GIRL checks PHONE, answers a call.
Dude. How is Cambodia?
MEGAN (Tearing up)
Megan tries to control her voice so her friend can’t tell she’s about to cry.
Tell me about your life since I’ve left.
Tears roll down her face as she listens to a laundry list of daily activities, all the college drama she left behind and doesn’t miss. It’s the voice she misses. Not the things they’re about.
Yes, I cried on the phone with a friend. Just from hearing his voice from so far away after only two weeks. It was pretty dramatic; similar to the Hindi soap operas I’ve come to love so much.
I know I’ve said this before, but let me reiterate: The digital age is confoundingly amazing. The ability to Skype home, to see my brother’s pixelated face as he describes his latest issue with calculus or get a tour of my friend’s new apartment from afar keeps me closer than I imagined possible.
And I need that right now. It’s a stage, I’m sure. For now, the emotional boosts I’ve received from a selfie of someone wishing me a good day from Florida or a Facebook emoji of two minions hugging one another is unparalleled by even conversations with new friends in Vietnam.
Being able to tap into pre-existing social infrastructure is what’s kept me sane while everything else is in flux. I’ve never had monthlong job training while moving to another country while figuring out where to live while not speaking the local language while integrating myself into a new group of people before.
Because of technology and having wonderful friends and family, in between conquering all these tasks, I can read messages about my mother’s kindergarten class and ask my friends for ideas about my next lesson plan.
The hybridization of my future and past life in this moment is a jumble. But I got a hug out of it the other day. Things are moving forward.