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9AM, and it’s already reaching close to 90 degrees, 1000% humidity. air so heavy that perhaps only a chainsaw could get through it–maybe. shadows creating some relief, not to mention the can of diet coke within arm’s length on the table. i can feel the drips of sweat cascading down my front, hidden by my black halter dress, custom made by wanderlust, of course. a fringed oversized tassle around my neck swings lightly in the much needed breeze. 

i am staring into the lens of a camera. trying hard not to look boiling hot, sucking in my ever-sagging chin, thinking about –and attempting to emulate–some of the tricks i saw the countless models i dressed on countless shoots in countless locations do. but i am on the alley street. in siem reap, cambodia. flanked by 2 of the most creative, inspired, inspiring men, loven ramos and don protasio, and we’re being shot for a feature for a thai magazine. the story is about creative forces “taking over” siem reap. i am here. and i totally can’t believe it.

loven and don humble me. i feel unworthy of being shot with them, like i am sitting on their designer coattails (don’s would be comme des garcons; loven’s would probably be adidas or some underground, yet-to-be-totally-discovered hipster brand from the lower east side that hordes of people will clamor for within a year once he’s over it and moved on) and trailing along for the ride. they are a force. a real force. like a hurricane, but one that blows into town and you are awed by it’s magnitude and yet this enormous storm only makes the sky look beautiful and romantic and like a andrew wyeth painting and the leaves turnover and unveil their covert colorful undersides and makes the air clear and fresh and the insects sing loud, rhythmic, pretty songs. and this storm causes no damage. it only makes things more gorgeous, calmer, more alive. much more alive.

beautiful strength. that’s what they are.

i always say loven has more talent in his pinkie fingernail than most people have in their entire family tree. he’s an artist, a painter, a graphic designer, an art director, a man of a million ideas. he is the definition of “energy”, of “spirit”, of “goodness”–actually, make that “greatness“. his sense of humor floors me; his enormous internal rolodex of inspirations and thoughts and references is astonishing and god, i just want to steal a few of those ‘cards’; and  his sincerity and generosity are felt within seconds of being near him. i saw him on sunday ‘eskimo kissing’ his son and i felt this overwhelming sensation that i was amidst an ideal human being, someone whom i was extraordinarily fortunate to call “friend”. i look at his gorgeous and loving wife, faith, while we’re chatting and laughing and sharing stories, and i think, “wow. this stuff happens in real life. people have this. they have it.and i am not envious; rather, i am excited to have such people to look up to, to absorb, to emulate, to be near.

don is a person whom i see with cartoonish hearts in my pupils. i remember meeting him and he was wearing polka dotted shorts and gladiator sandals, and i knew that i was in a town that embraced uniqueness and character, and i felt safe. i felt at home in his presence. i told him about an early birthday present that my dear daniel sent me the other day–a much coveted designer item–and don squealed, “i am so happy for you!” and he meant it. he was honestly happy for me. and he came over to look at it and we played with it and we talked fashion talk and design talk and our mutual enthusiasm buoyed both of us to near hysteria. he is a fashion designer who makes clothes i understand in a very very deep way–clothes that tell stories, express emotions, conjure up feelings. sort of like modern history–new ideas done with familiarity, a sense of homey-ness and realness that is futuristic at the same time.  he also curates the swanky art gallery at the ridiculously chic de la paix hotel in town, and he selects the artists with such a vision, from such an honest, supportive place. he is magic.

so, here we were, the 3 of us, being photographed in the overwhelming heat of february in cambodia. and i look at don, wearing his white tee, jeans, a marc jacobs cherry pendant necklace and red patent sneakers, and loven, in his black tee with strong white graphic on the front–most likely screened by him last night; he once told me that when he & faith have dinner parties, he silkscreens personalized, themed table linens to use for the evening–white pants, coveted limited-edition adidas shellcaps and i can’t believe i am with these two. i am sandwiched between them, trying desperately to live up to the standard that they’ve already created here. and i feel so challenged, so inspired, i want to work so hard and prove my value here here here, here in this town, here in this magical place, here in this random thai magazine, here with these extraordinary, phenomenal people.

forces.

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4 Comments

  1. aaaawwwww….. shucks, liz… i am totally, totally speechless… thank you… 😉

  2. We met recently when i was visiting my sister-in-law in Siem Reap.

    I was the one who wanted to buy everything in your store (like i’d be the only one!!!).

    Anyway, love your blog. Your words are beautiful and inspiring. Can’t wait to share the next instalment.

  3. so sweet of you! i’m totally inspired by you as well. you’re heaven sent. you just don’t know how happy i am that i’m not the only ‘freak’ in town! hahaha!

    mwah!

  4. I’m so happy that you’ve met Loven and Faith. They are great people, generous, open and full of conviction.
    I love your reading your blog!
    Rafe


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