Traveling to Cambodia from my living room

Technology. Sometimes it makes me want to throw my laptop out the window, but other times it really does amaze. Take last night, for example.

I had just gotten home from a workout when I checked my phone and saw a text from my brother. “Hey sis! I’m free the next couple hours if you want to call.” Pretty standard text, except for the fact that my brother is thousands of miles away in Cambodia, serving in the Peace Corps. I dialed the phone card number, then the lengthy pin number, then finally his cell phone number. He answered on the fourth ring, laughing. “Hey! No, I… (unintelligible sounds of him yelling to someone in Khmer before returning to our phone conversation). Sorry about that. The new housekeeper was criticizing my method of slicing tomatoes, despite the fact that the tomato is for MY BREAKFAST!” He raised his voice for these last two words, even though the girl he was directing the comment to did not speak a single word of English.

I could hear a hint of homesickness in his voice as we swapped stories for the next hour. He told me how excited he was that his host mom had finally started letting him use the kitchen, and how bored he was at work, since all he had to do for the next week was proctor exams. I told him about our ski trip, and about our plans to travel to Italy in the spring. An undercurrent of gratitude ran through everything he said. Gratitude to be speaking his native language, gratitude to have the opportunity to discuss The Lumineers vs. Mumford and Sons, gratitude for his simplistic life in a foreign country, gratitude for the two cell phones and the technology that made this conversation possible.

When we finally said our goodbyes, I had a vivid image of my brother standing in a kitchen in the tropics, slicing the thinnest discs of tomato. And for that, I was grateful.