In the space of one week I travelled from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh and from there, to Singapore – the freedom to cross borders and through countries is an enormous privilege I don’t take lightly. I rode my bike the 240 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh over three days, and then I left my bike behind and took a flight to Singapore. A ‘holiday from the holiday’ was how I kept referring to this little side trip, and it was exactly that.
It was also far more than a holiday. It was a sliver of time that felt heavy with meaning; a time you just know is precious, right when you’re in it. You also know that afterwards you’ll want to keep turning each memory over and over in your mind and the more time that passes the more precious each memory will become. I want to record these ‘Things I Want To Remember’ as clues so I can find my way back to myself on the days when I forget who I am, maybe for the difficult days I’m yet to live.
Why was this time so precious? It’s not that everything was perfect (besides, I don’t believe in perfect); I felt the tender ache of missing my family, held space in my heart for the ones who may have been feeling alone or disappointed or frightened or who were hurting at Christmas – because it’s not always a merry time for everyone – and shamefully, perhaps, I felt a little anxious about my wardrobe, which wasn’t entirely Singapore suitable.
However, it wasn’t about the quality of this time or this trip. Whilst important, it also wasn’t entirely about whom I was with or where I was, but rather, how I felt. I felt so deeply in my bones how much I want to be here: In my life. I don’t want to miss a thing. Not my husband’s sleeping face each morning or the way my Mother laughs down the phone or the blue of the sky on a clear day or how the practical can also be profound. I want to be present for all of it.
I spent so much of my life waiting. Waiting to be someone else and somewhere else. Waiting to be a more accomplished, more tender and thinner version of myself. Mostly I was just waiting to be a thinner version of myself. And this new and improved version would mark the point when my life would really begin. It was an anxious, uncomfortable, unhappy way to live and I missed out on so much of the life that was right here in front of me, because I was always trying to get to ‘there’ instead.
I haven’t felt that way in very a long time. Not because I’ve got life all figured out now, because I haven’t. No, I just know the gift of being alive is truly precious. That there is much to be, do, say and learn, but I’m exactly where I’m meant to be right now.
I fought so hard for all this. I fought so hard to free myself from feeling trapped in my own body.
I’m back in Phnom Penh now, back with my bike and preparing to return to life on the road and I just feel so grateful for everything and I want to record that, for me.
Some people take photographs, me too, but mine never seem to quite capture the moment the way I want them to. So, sometimes I write my memories instead. Here are the words I wrote to capture Christmas 2018 in Singapore:
Sleeping deep and well. Daytime naps. Rested. Another Christmas with my beloved. Loving and being loved. Laughter. Health. Happiness. Holding hands. Meeting eyes. Longing, too. Family. Phone calls. Emails. Post cards, finally. The right priorities, at last. Friendships – old and new – each precious in their own way. Hugs. Conversation. Connection. Giggling with girlfriends. Tears. Moving my body. Feeling comfortable in my body. Feeling fabulous. Daily stretching and swimming. Long walks with nowhere to be. Leopard print dress worn on repeat. Gold sandals, same. Dressing up. Feeling glamorous. Stylish hotels. Soft beds. Crisp cotton sheets. Blackout blinds. Peace and quiet. Calm and order. Clean drinking water straight out of the tap. Seemingly simple luxuries I previously took for granted. Eating out. In fancy restaurants. At hawker’s markets, which I adored. Delicious. Healthy. Unhealthy. Vegetarian. Food and how I feel about it these days. Epiphanies. Virgin margaritas. Living in alignment with my values. Freedom. Abundance and what that word means to me. Blue sky no rain. Humidity. Palm trees. ‘Supertrees’. Flowers. Green. A city in a garden. Travel journal. Book writing. Writing for myself. Prayer. Gratitude. A home within. A sacred space, wherever I am. Being human. Being present. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. Sparkling eyes. Twinkling lights and the sweet fragrance of a real Christmas tree. Photographs. Shared memories, the best kind. The coast and how my soul feels when it’s near the sea. Art and what it does for my heart. Awake. Clear eyes, head and heart. Nourished. Replenished. A chapter ends…Begin, again.
© 2018 Esther Zimmer