Well, I’ve been there and back again as Tolkien would put it, and with the customary chests of gold to prove it, so long as chests can be suitcases and gold can consist of quinoa, clothing, candles, and many other things that don’t start with /k/, if you can believe it. Allow me my alliteration, alright?
Moving to Korea was one of the best decisions of my life, but that doesn’t mean it’s always sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. It’s a trade-off, I suppose– for every step I take toward building a life for myself here, I’m taking one more step away from the life I had back in the states. I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s something I keep spiraling back to. I have a bizarre form of that trendy new malady FOMO, a fear of missing out on the things I’d have been doing had I not moved to Korea.
The most obvious thing to miss is family events. No matter how much you email and check Facebook and Skype, so many things fall through the cracks. My aunt went through a huge medical situation and I had no idea how serious it was until I visited home well after the fact and heard the whole story. That really spooked me.
Being alone has never really bothered me. I was an only child growing up, and whenever a play-date wasn’t an option, I was perfectly happy playing pretend in my room for hours, reading, or (most embarrassingly) learning how to make databases on my mom’s Windows 3.1 computer. There were so many floppy disks. It wasn’t even connected to the internet. Am I dating myself?
“Don’t you miss your family? Aren’t you homesick?” These are in the top 10 of questions everyone over here asks me, and while it’s nice to know someone is concerned about my well-being, it makes me wonder if I’m the odd one out for not being homesick. This isn’t new; I’ve been wondering about this same topic almost since I first arrived in Korea.
|Phelan M. Ebenhack—AP|
My family took my voice
long before any sea-witch offered.
The song that reached their ears
from my lips was their own.
If the ocean was my oyster,
I a pearl from a grain of sand,
then my world was no larger
than the margins of that speckled shell.
Age equaled freedom
five sisters equaled five years
biding time amongst the barnacles.
But every crumb of gossip
collected from their
did not prepare me for anything.
The sky as wide as childhood
crushing down on the roof
of my ocean, the rough grain
of wind across my salt-smoothed cheek
and the queer vessels of men
which move only forward, only back
and I marveled at their
lack of dimensions.
They will say it was
that stole me away from my watery home.