In which I spend the best $10 of my life but first talk about my feelings. I really like to make you work for it–believe me when I say this title is going to pay off by the end. You are welcome to savor it. (Above photo top left (TL): flying saucers and my toes, TR: just that everyday Korean life, BR: FaceTiming with the Dad for his birthday, BL: New less-than-$3 scarf that I never want to take off.)
Sometimes it takes a concerted effort to relax. I’ll notice that I’m walking really fast, but there’s no destination. I’m carrying a ton of stuff in a backpack, but I don’t even use half of it. I’m frantically searching for something to buy, but I don’t need anything. It’s interesting how the subconscious can work like that. I didn’t think “walk faster,” but I was. I didn’t need a new hoodie,” but I wanted and felt like I needed it. I’m no psychologist, but I find it interesting to shrink my own brain. I have to stop, say “slow,” and make myself see things. A new coffee shop. A sweater that, gasp, looks like it will actually fit me. A 40-minute sit alone on my laptop at the shuttle pickup, relaxing in the perfect weather at 8:22pm on a Sunday night.
Dang. I feel so good right now. I still miss all of you. I’m fracturing a little, into my horcruxes. There’s the me that misses all of you and still sometimes cries at the 2 months until family time and unknown amount for the rest of you. That’s harder, the not knowing. I learned that after college. Once I started working for Apple, there was no guaranteed Fall Break, Christmas, Spring Break, etc. Every time you said goodbye you didn’t know when the next hello would be. It’s easy to ‘x’ off days, but when there’s no finite number, it is overwhelming. As millennials (that sounded even more pretentious then I thought it would), we often make our friends into family. I think that’s especially true for those of us that move far from our family–while they are irreplaceable, someone must hold that position of accountability and unconditional love in your life that you can see everyday, so we create new siblings and forge new bonds that feel almost as strong as blood.
And there’s also new me. Who is old me, who all of you know, but who is Korea me. I can get somewhere and the language barrier is a scalable thing. I can take buses, subways, transfers, cabs, trains–and still get home, safe and by myself. I can buy new things without hating the cost (as much). I mean, I’m not throwing it out there, but it’s nice to flex for a $20 pair of shoes. Which I just did. I’m not afraid to ask for help from a kid, an adult, another foreigner, the internet. Apple taught me that. There’s always going to be specs and products and adapters and How To’s sort of things I don’t know–Google is my best friend. And if not, a big “I’m stuck” smile and a polite “mien hanmida? (excuse/pardon me?)” is gold.
I don’t hug as much, which is really weird since I definitely consider myself a hugger. You can always ask for hugs, but that feels unusual. I can also offer hugs, which is fine. But I miss Mom cuddles and Dad hugs and Lisa squeezes and Everett long hugs. Those ones where I know you’re coming out of your love at me and I don’t have any choice or social reason where I get to refuse. I’m just getting loved out of your overflow and swimming in happy.
Sometimes I don’t miss you guys. And that’s a strange feeling. I’m just sitting here on my laptop feeling very “I am a 25-year old, self-sufficient American woman living in Korea and today, I’m doing ok. I’m doing the damn thing and I’m not failing at it and my heart isn’t shattering anymore.” There are times when I think about staying another year. And there’s times where I think DEAR GOD JUST PLEASE LET ME GET TO THURSDAY, I CAN COAST TO FRIDAY FROM THERE IS IT THURSDAY YET WHY IS IT ONLY TUESDAYYYY?!?! It’s not a decision I have to make soon. I’ll be home for 2 weeks in December, and I don’t have to make the great renewal decision until I think around January 1st. Start preparing your arguments, “yedera (you guys).”
Sidebar: You know what’s great about Korea? There is (knock on wood) like no crime. I’m sitting outside a building–a car dealer, I think–in a city the size and density of New York, eating a banana and typing on a $2500 Mac. And no one is bothering me. They walk or ride their bikes on by, savoring the last few hours of the weekend and the glorious, just-enough-wind weather. Couples holding hands and walking slowly, groups of adolescent boys in tracksuits and blindingly bright running shoes shoving each other and laughing, pairs of girls with one earbud in each giggling and all of them fantastically themselves. I’m pretty content in this moment…except the part about sitting on a granite step. That is starting to get a wee bit concerning.
Let’s see, my day, my weekend, my week: I’ve been participating in the Night of the Living Dead production with the Daegu Theatre Troupe and it’s been pretty fun. I’ve met some great people who have opened my eyes to thrift store shopping in Daegu–just you wait until the reveal at the end of this, where I spent the best $10 EVER–and took me around to find where ladies of the night buy their hair extensions, for you know, *science.* We had play rehearsal both Saturday and Sunday, which was a little draining to get out from the village and stay out until the 9pm shuttle both days since it’s an hour-long trip each way and you’re dependent on a bus that only comes back at 3 and 9pm. But I got to get some great food–even Indian!–and hang out with Jill, who I met at DTT auditions and is one of my favoritest people here, as well as a shopping buddy now!
I’m at the bus so early because I fast walked/trotted over to the “saucers,” which are apartments with what I can only assume as helipads on them that are brightly lit at night–They’re actually apartments called Centro Palace and are a pretty well-known downtown icon at night (see top left in the above photo), but I prefer alien saucers, don’t you?–to meet up with a lady seller (that didn’t quite come out right…) to buy a romper. At night. In the dark. But don’t worry, “Korea Me” is super confident and kind of intimidating since I’m bigger than 89% of the population, so it’s all good. We found each other and I bought a romper! Don’t worry, Trace, it’s not all bad. It’s quite cute, although it’s sleeveless and might need a cardigan A) because the weather is getting cooler and B) it is scandalous as hell to have bare upper arms/shoulders in this country (and if I’m being honest, C) because I don’t really like my upper arm/shoulder area…).
Now I’ve slowed my roll on over here to sit, eat a banana and enjoy the rest of my night here, which should last another 14 minutes. I keep forgetting to download this time lapse app that Carp showed me to record with; I want to just set it in the window of the bus and show you the night colors. Some things about Asia are exactly what you’d think: lots and lots of neon and bright night lights, cutesy animal icons and strange logos.
Guys, I kind of want to try on the romper. I’m in leggings, red Toms shoes, black slouchy hat, glasses and red Star Wars tshirt (which another guy in the theater troupe was wearing today. Of all the shirts in all the world from all the Target men’s sections, it had to be on both of us. On the same day.). Oh the bus just arrived and saved me from the shame. ON THE BUS and there are only Koreans. I think every possible village guide and Korean YJC-Chilgok student is on here. There are no teachers–which is weird, considering how many of us got off downtown at 3, but this is the only bus back since then. Either someone with more experience is teaching them one of about 3 ways back or they are about to spend a lotlotlot of money on a cab home (about $30-40).
Ugh. Bus typing is not nearly as much fun. 1, there is no beautiful weather enclosed in the bus and 2, the jostling makes typing a little difficult. However, I will say my butt is at least marginally happier off the granite.
This is so rambly. But of course, if you know me and you’re reading this, it doesn’t surprise you. I just jump around, jump around, jump up jump up and get doooown (insert music break). Speaking of music, I’m really into Lorde’s entire “Pure Heroine” album right now. She looks kind of odd and watching her perform is kind of spooky but I could (and have) listened to that album on loop. I previewed the whole thing, put it on my iTunes wish list and yet only held out for about 26 hours before I just went ahead and bought it for $10. (Don’t worry, this is not the aforementioned “best $10 ever” that was promised, that is coming later. Although I would say the album is also worth $10 if you have it to spend. It is much more than just “Royal,” though that track is excellent.)
Do do do do do how have I written almost 3 pages of mostly single-spaced typing? And why was it so difficult to do in college? This is so easy peasy to record my brain chirps. Merpity merpity merp. Happy song. Happy chirps. Happy me.
So onto the greatest purchase of 2013, maybe all time. We had descended to an underground thrift store (I mean this not in a hipster-y “it was so underground and exclusive” way, but rather in a “we descended into a dimly lit batcave so ‘underground’ that it was LITERALLY underground” way) to see this huge yellow Southern Belle costume for a theme party one of the girls, Kita, was going to tonight. As she got it off the wall the rest of us wandered off, picking up leather Hard Rock Cafe jackets and 80’s electric teal snow pants (which looked eerily familiar to me) when I saw it on a wall. The most gloriously, fleecy red and blue object that is treasured by millions, dare I say billions of people the world over: a Spiderman fleece onesie.
I picked it up, carefully cradling the precious in my hands as the wrinkly ajumma wandered over and held up 10 fingers. Only $10?! WAS SHE ON CRACK?! (1. No, because pretty much all drugs here are zero tolerance and they will send your ass straight to jail with like no chance for parole for even smelling like weed, regardless of your citizenship and/or good looks and 2. If anything this lady was clearly smoking mothballs.) Now, I’d tried on a few things during the day’s thrifting, almost all either not fitting my voluptuousness or just looking daft (I’ve been reading a lot of Bear Grylls and hence I like this word) as heck–I had pretty much zero chance of this one working out. But I held it up and thought, “maybe.” I slipped the right leg over my jeans, thinking “okay, not terrible.” Left leg, “acceptable.” Now the scary bit: hips, “mmmmkay.” Shoulders–am I too tall for this? “Nope, it’s working.” I’m starting to feel the first dangerous inklings of “could it actually be?!” Breathing heavily, I did up the buttons. With every one, my “ohmygoditisworkingitisworkingitisworking” grew until the last button was fastened. I looked in the mirror and threw the hood over my face and turned to face the huge (3 person) crowd that had assembled. MerryDeath (who I *think* is named Meredith but chooses for obvious awesomeness reasons to go by the former name) said, “If you don’t buy that, we can’t be friends.”
And now I own a Spiderman onesie and at least one new friend.