“I didn’t really plan. Can you come over?”
“Why not?” I thought. I think I remember the way: down the wide unpaved road, right at the asphalt, left at the vegetable stand.
You’ve kindly laid out a feast, including some shredded meat that ran around this very yard about an hour ago. The freest-range chicken. The sky at dusk is distracting; bats begin to trickle along in an anemic inky stream, dispersing to find their own dinners. Mesmerizing. I could watch those wings twitch to and fro overhead all night.
Banter snaps me out of the reverie. My companions are discussing Cambodian politics (it mostly flows over and around me like water). Pot (outlawed two years ago; delicious in soup). The alarming frigidity of snowmelt (“I thought I would die!”) An excellent pick up line or two (witty juxtapositions of mirrors and pants). The costs and benefits of keeping a cat around (fewer snakes; more mosquitos). The daily rhythms of a monk’s life (hunger and peace). The proper way to add fruit to your rice wine (roast before adding, no oil).
As the night wore on, and the conversation fell away thread by thread, one singular thought remained: what luck to be surrounded by such joy, hospitality, and camaraderie.