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You may as well appreciate where you’re at, who you’re with, the pain you’re feeling now, or the joy. It’s all going to change on you anyway. It’s all there is, there’s no sense in chasing down the change, it comes to you freely; the juice of living.
I always imagined this trip would be like a documentary, one that only shows the intense beauty of the place. In reality, I wanted to be removed from it all, not a part of it. When you sit at home, watching the BBC, the pain gets edited out; it isn’t much good for ratings. In a way, you keep yourself from seeing the world for what it is. You rob yourself of perspective and everything is digestible. It all comes prepackaged, the Disney Vault sticker slapped on the box, so you take it for what you believe it to be; the truth.
I’d made it, this trip was becoming a reality, and I had no idea what I was going to do there. Beyond watching a few tavelogs on YouTube, I didn’t know anything about the city: where my hostel was, the exchange rate, if the water was safe to drink. The chatter of a nervous mind is an endless well, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a trust, which drives my very prepared mother crazy.
Am I looking at God? How long have I been staring at the tiles now? Has it been an hour, or three?
My eyes rolled, I wasn’t going to waste my breath explaining to this woman how hair works, so instead I simply muttered to myself “you have to be fucking kidding me.”
Scribbling down illegible lines in my notebook, my ears perked. In broken English, I heard one of those squealing women timidly speak up and ask “can I have a picture with you?”
I was half tempted to open the door immediately, but I’ve developed the habit of getting completely naked before cooking with oil. I like the thrill of it, it’s the most dangerous game and it keeps my nights interesting without anyone to talk to.
It’s such a trip, reverting back to those primal modes of communication: pointing, grunting, nodding. I’ve dubbed this experience speaking in gesture, it’s a very direct way of connecting, one that’s wildly ineffective. Nearly all of what I do is left to interpretation, more so than spilling thought through words, or so I feel; I’m raw and defenseless in a codified world.
In my opinion, there’s just as much pressure put on young men to save face, as there is on young women; it’s just different.
As he stood next to me, grinning with a mouth full of polished metal, not a single tooth remaining, I fully regretted uttering “I felt quite normal here.” I will not, no matter how long I stay, be a part of the club. I will always be an oddity, even if I forget that I am, because someone will be sure to remind me. I’m not mad about it, it isn’t their fault. It’s a country made up of 98% Koreans. Cultural diversity, or ethnic, isn’t comprehensible and in some sense it’s rejected. It doesn’t exist, I doubt it will, and it sure as hell makes me appreciate calling The United States my true home; the world’s hub of multiculturalism, where we don’t embrace the weird, we just don’t care.
Whether you’re with someone, or alone, you only see you. That’s why it’s so damn hard maintaining relationships, but get comfortable with it, or work on it until you’re satisfied, because those are the only two options. You will follow yourself wherever you go, in every relationship you have.
Don’t be perfect, just be tenacious. Be like that.
Remember this, we can only be tamed, if we’re willing to be tamed.
That rage was plenty and it happened nightly, but I needed the money. In a strange way too, I enjoyed the punishment. I sort of fed off of it, in a masochistic way, but I think a lot of that came from the freedom in knowing exactly why I was pissed. My own anger was no longer a giant question mark. I could pin it on somebody, it wasn’t existential, it was fucking Judy.
Then, when you’ve begun to master the little things, you can start adding new tasks. Climb that mountain, kick the cigarettes, ask that girl out. You know, the silly shit. In retrospect, when you’ve proven to yourself that you’re capable, and you’ve done it, it all becomes silly shit.
It becomes this living thing, not just slabs of concrete. You’re part of the orchestration. Each street has a personality. All of them talk to you in their own accent, like an understanding friend, and you talk back; walking the alleys alone, the hum of streetlights following you. You could have but a single friend and the city will always make time, any hour of the day; it’s your family.
Behind all of the glitz. Behind all the accessories and attention seeking, was a scared little girl that wanted to be seen. Someone that couldn’t be seen. Someone that was afraid of who she was, because who she really was had been trapped behind her image; her ego. For some of the people I met, like Luciana, the only place to go is deeper. Deeper into that maddening life, but I was out.
Now, think to yourself, if all of this can go so far along a destructive path, visualize how much further it can go on a constructive one.
This was different. The Wa seemed scuzzy, but it was putting it on; a thin facade.
Some will say it’s ridiculous. Some will say it isn’t practical, but follow the glow of that eternal beacon. It’s your inner truth and no matter how faint it seems, flowers, more brilliant than you can imagine, will blossom with every step along that path.
I’d never met the man, but on the same hand I knew him, and if I went back he’d probably be gone. Like some apparition in the night.
We must unapologetically chase life, loving fearlessly along the way, like some character out of a Kerouac novel.
I couldn’t read his name, but that smile on the other hand said very clearly, “don’t you fucking stop at my booth dude, this’ll be awkward for the both of us, so let’s spare each other the formalities.”
Mind you, it was still winter outside, but doing overhead swings with 100 pounds of luggage will do some kinda thing to you.
My backpack and suitcase, which had been scarred from a trip around the globe, were stuffed deep into Mordor. It was the only thing between me and hitching a taxi, this was my middle earth, I was Frodo and she, my Gollum…
Without skipping a beat, or giving a smirk, my co-teacher looked into the depths of my being, like one of those wrinkly 90 year old ladies, and asked; “what’s a sidewalk?”