April 11th, 2018
It’s 5am and I just arrived for my layover in Shanghai. I spent the majority of my 15hr flight passed out, opened mouth breathing and comfortable AF. It’s my third time to Seoul and I’m totally nailing it. I didn’t even take a sleeping pill, my body just knew to go into hibernation mode. I’m feeling so cool right now all baby wiped and wearing my clean change of briefs under these sweatpants, you’d never know that before the flight, I was a crumbling mess. I kept starting to cry. Leaving home was harder than ever. I was overwhelmed by a sentimental wave which spiraled into this irrational fear of traveling again. That feeling as you’re creeping up to the apex of a roller coaster. You’ve been waiting all this time and now there’s now going back. You’re not gonna be the person that scares the operator into hitting the emergency break. You’re gonna go through with it, but you’re scared. Anything could happen and lots of things will. Every time I tell someone I’m going to Korea the initial reaction isn’t excitement, it’s usually surprise followed with concern. Most people with a big ticket aren’t vacationing a few hours from the biggest nuclear threat for two months during political turmoil. So, I get it. It’s something that’ll always be associated with my time here. I’ll go to bed praying that nothing happens while I sleep, and I’ll wake up checking for updates. You’d never know walking through the streets of Seoul and talking to the families or servicemen. Koreans have lead their lives with this looming terror for generations. It’s completely normalized and all the fears I have are washed away when I’m surrounded by them. Honestly, I look at any person living on the San Andreas Fault as extreme a risk takers as the Koreans. I often use this philosophy to calm myself down; “Why suffer twice?” If something is going to happen, why are you scared about it right now? There are things that are out of our control, and no one knows anything for certain, so why let a bad thing hurt you twice? Especially if nothing bad ends up happening at all. I’m on my way, and I couldn’t be happier! Korea’s a lot like New York, except for cleaner, kinder, more efficient and much more smarter. Obviously, NYC is cooler and more famous, I guess, but Seoul is like what NYC could be in the future. Korea is also incredibly homogeneous. I’m very much a minority. There are American areas because of the large military presence but outside of that you’d be hard pressed to find many English speakers. The strangers I’ve met try their best, and I’ve learned a few words, but never enough to hold a conversation. It’s what it must be like for non-English speakers when they come to NYC. Though that would be MUCH scarier to me. Koreans are so kind, it truly is like going back to the 60’s. Everyone is traditional and conservative but in a moderate way, especially in social settings. How I imagine families in the Leave It To Beaver era. I’ve never felt unsafe nor have I ever seen a cop with a gun. Interactions are always pleasant, respectful, and, despite the overworked professionals, Seoul seems like a happy place. I’m in a place at a time I never imagined for myself and as much as I love to plan out every step, I wholeheartedly throw my arms up and embrace the drop. Metaphors.
- Heart In Seoul