After spending the first 15 minutes on the bullet train adjusting, and readjusting, my bags to fit onto the 10 inch wide overhead space, my shirt was now soaked through. Mind you, it was still winter outside, but doing overhead swings with 100 pounds of luggage will do some kinda thing to you. Luckily for me, a kind soul sitting across the alley realized my struggle. He motioned to the front of the train car with the nod of his head and half a smile.
Behind the glass window of the sliding door, I saw a space for oversized luggage. Thanking the man, I stepped to the front of the car very awkwardly. There really isn’t a suave way to walk when you have to pull your pants up for the slightest movement. I really think the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy should have reminded all of us to not only bring your towel, but a fucking belt too.
Instead, my pants were proudly sporting the crack of my ass to a crowd of Koreans. Where was my belt you ask? Back in Ohio, taking a paid sabbatical somewhere in the guest room of my parent’s home.
Now, back in my seat, luggage situated in the appropriate spot, I sat down and thought about how not to sweat on the man dressed in his pinstripe suit next to me. Sitting there with eyes nearly closed, I saw a pair of black shoes walk up the alley. Through the small opening still left between my lids, I saw the shoes had stopped and turned...right to where I’d finally made my peace. I opened my eyes to a grandma, finger outstretched at me, with a demanding look; I was not only in the wrong seat, but the fucking wrong car entirely.
All I could do was let out a laugh, smile, get up and figure out where the hell my seat was…
I was just happy to have made it to the train on time...
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.