I awoke to the sun creeping through the French doors of our apartment in Cambodia this morning, excited that it was only 7:45 in the morning, which gave me plenty of time to call my parents, who are currently 11-hours behind us. I packed my favorite bag from Thailand with all my goodies – MacBook, earphones, notebook, and pencil – and headed over to the restaurant of our guesthouse to use the Internet. On my way out the door I kissed Jarrell and told him to come over when he woke up, then we’d have breakfast together.
Today is my father’s 61st birthday, and also my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary. Every year I cannot help but think how risky it was for him to get married on his birthday. There was a 50/50 chance that every birthday would be a reminder of a failed love, but instead it has been a celebration of an individual and joint life. I like to think that he bet with optimism and his faith has rewarded him a priceless victory.
An hour after ending my phone call with my parents, Jarrell creeps into the restaurant with a smile. We kiss before I share the overnight happenings of our businesses. A package was delayed at customs, a client has an inquiry about an art project, and unfortunately the sponsorship I have been working on for the past month has fallen through. After reassuring me that I’ll find another solution, we quickly ramble off benefits of not securing the sponsorship and move on from what could easily be described as a failed plan.
Jarrell shares some ideas he woke up with, after jotting down his thoughts in a new hardbound green notebook I forced him to buy after tiring of his random notes in my journal. There’s an art project he’s been contemplating, about the evolution, or metamorphosis of a butterfly, and how it aligns so much with our journey.
Butterflies have inspired him since we arrived on Koh Oknha Tey Island in Cambodia two weeks ago. This idea has taken on many forms, and I’m grateful to be the muse. Last night my duties as a muse included lying naked, as still as possible, while he sketched my body in charcoal. That drawing has now pushed him to the complete conceptualization of his latest art collection. His eyes are beaming, as he smiles through his explanation, constantly cutting himself off, as his words just do not seem to adequately convey his vision.
After agreeing to pose for more of his concepts later, we head back to our apartment for breakfast. Together we lift the mosquito net and pull the sheets back on our king-size bed. I put all of the scattered bottles of paint, and oil pastels, back into their cases, and begin breakfast. Like most mornings, we’re having cappuccinos, toast, eggs and fruit. Unlike most mornings, we have our favorite jam in the world, Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserve, which we fell in love with in Paris. The French occupancy of Cambodia has left its remnants with local bakeries still churning out flawless baguettes, and French import channels consistently flowing.
As Jarrell cleans the dishes from breakfast, I sweep our apartment with a straw broom before opening the green and gold curtains that cover the windows of the apartment. I imagine a young woman here made the curtains on Silk Island, as Koh Oknha Tey is famously known, due to their mass production of silk. As the sun begins to fill the apartment more and more with every curtain tie, I remark at how beautiful a day it has become.
Jarrell is still in shock that we found our favorite jam from France. And then he initiated an exchange that inspired this article. It went something like this:
Jarrell: You know, our life is so sweet because we’re able to enjoy simple things like just having breakfast together. And having our favorite jam from France.
Me: Isn’t that crazy? Who would’ve ever thought we would have a favorite jam from France, or even go to France?
Jarrell: It’s just nice to be able to enjoy our lives together.
Me: Right. It’s like a Sunday. Everyone enjoys Sundays because they’re so laid back and free. We live a life of Sundays.
Jarrell: A life of Sundays. That’s nice. You should write about that.
It wasn’t always like this for Jarrell or me. We’ve both had to sacrifice and let go of so many people and habits, individually and together. It’s been a complete metamorphosis for both of us, and at times I wasn’t even able to envision this life. It’s as if I went into a cocoon without even knowing what a butterfly was, let alone that I soon would become one. The seclusion, self-doubt, and transition were at times unbearable.
August has always been our month. It’s the month we were married, and so we always take this time to get back to the basics. This August we will be sharing our first joint collection, Metamorphosis: A Personal Evolution, which is a combination of Jarrell’s artwork and my accompanying written works. Together we’ve found a way to express what this three-year journey around the world has been like, and we’re very excited to share it with you.
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Until Next Time,