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.
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.
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.
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.