Travel memoirs, especially those written by free-spirited women, have been my favorite genre for the past several years. In preparation for my adventure, I started re-reading some of the books in my rather large collection. I scoured worn (sometimes coffee stained) pages searching for stories about women in Cambodia, hoping for some insight and advice. Even though I couldn’t find any the authors’ tales encouraged me, even though some of their experiences didn’t go exactly as planned (muggings, crippling illness, lost luggage, etc.) they all survived and grew into stronger, more determined women because of their hardships.
One theme I noticed throughout is the idea of wanderlust; that feeling of needing to see and experience new things. I’ve felt this pull inside me ever since I journeyed to Uganda in 2007. It started as a small nagging, an idea that there has to be something more to see and maybe if I try hard enough I might be able to experience it for myself. When I returned from Europe a few summers ago the nagging became louder and more persistent: there has to be more than this.
The women in my books describe a transformation of self in which they finally realize they can’t sit still anymore. Ordinary jobs, relationships, and families feel stifling. I knew taking this job in Cambodia was going to alter the rest of my life, but I didn’t realize how drastic it would be until I was sitting in JFK waiting to board my plane. After this, there is no going back. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, unsure of everything except that a life without this topsy-turvy feeling would be maddeningly dull. It’s addictive, being disoriented followed by the satisfaction of learning something new and figuring things out on your own.
I haven’t even started my new job yet but I already know working in a normal office would probably kill me. If I want to keep living unexpectedly I have to be open to everything. No more taking opportunities for granted. If a door opens, you bet I’m going to leap through it. I’m already tumbling towards Wonderland, I might as well experience all it has to offer.