Standing in the garden, fear at first sight, but immediately washed away when he realized she was not out to get him. Maybe it was the candy corn shirt that put him at ease. Or maybe it was the fact that she smelled exactly the same. Softer spoken than he remembered, but he was not about to think she had changed rather than it being some fault of his own memory. “Would you like to get something nice to drink?” she said. Of course.

And isn’t it strange how Everything can Change and yet things Feel the Same. Isn’t it strange that time speeds up and stops and starts. And leaves are falling somewhere even if they aren’t here, and rainclouds are drying up for months at a time even if they aren’t here. There is a Taking Apartedness that is frightening about Fall but in the shadows Meaning resides in an empathic quietness which calms him enough that he can look beyond the Splittedness, or see through it. Meaning is needed to survive this experience called Time, which in one’s native environment, he now realizes, is extremely Felt and pertinent.

His friends, joyful, endured overbouncing/overswaying taxi rides to faraway hometowns to partake of holiday nhom [cakes], special to the time of year, be it Pchum Bun or Chinese New Year or Khmer New Year. How had he not appreciated what it must have felt like to feel the turn of a season with those visits, the anticipation which filled them at rejoining Familiarity? Now he finally knows, recollects.

October, if not properly balanced, bears a kind of Weight that can crush the unexpecting, but in those anticipating Their Arrival it will carry them through barren trees and empty fields all the way to rooms with fireplaces and Christmas lights and sweet and savory things to eat and Loved Ones close by. But that balance must be respected and fastidiously observed.

He says, “To have returned so soon would have denied me the time I needed to recognize and partly restore my Self; I did have the sensation that I had been assimilated, enculturated, and only by flailing in a wholly foreign sea could I separate and regain my Self… I cannot say if it is an Absolute Truth that every one must love their Self, but for some of us it may be that to be healthy and to be loving to Others, one must also keep and love the Self. With this, I acknowledge that I am at least a thousand lifetimes away from Enlightenment.

“Don’t take this to mean that I don’t love you. I have been completely transformed by knowing you, and by your Knowing. The watermark is subtle but fixed. I carry new traditions into this my next life, but so, too, do I carry the old. Here, I can realize the value of honoring both. May they fortify me as I step across, swallowing the rise of fear inside of me and trying, still, to be Open.”