Why Do You Go Away? So You Can Come Back

:

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?

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?

Anyway (sorry, sorry, I promise I’ll stop), I’ve been back from vacation for about three weeks, which means I finally have the energy and presence of mind to write about, well, anything. Jetlag is rough, kids. Add that to the horrendously hot weather, and my sleep has been, in a word, crappy.

Each trip home has been weird in a different way. The first year it was mostly exciting and a bit surreal. My life in Korea started to feel like a dream, and I was surprised upon coming back to find everything exactly where I’d left it. My second visit was just odd and stressful and unsettled- I feel like I never really got my balance. And this year?

This year was the first time I felt any strong desire to move back home. I met my friends, and saw the lives they were living, and for a moment I thought…this could be me. Do I want this to be me?

I’ve been in Korea long enough now that a lot of the great things have become invisible, which puts the negative things up in sharp contrast. Some things are specific to Korea, while others are things that come with living in a country where you don’t speak the language fluently. It’s dumb, but the the Korea-specific complaint that I always go back to is bars. I used to love just popping into a local place around 5 or 6 PM, not to get drunk, but to sip on a drink at the bar and write or meet people. One time I talked for an hour with a guy who owned a company that cleaned up houses of hoarders or after a dead body wasn’t found for a long time. Gross but fascinating.
It’s also much harder to make friends and develop relationships, partially because of cultural differences, but also because of the language barrier. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily difficult, but it’s certainly more of a challenge. That’s probably one of the biggest lures of moving back to Seattle or the US. Not only do I have a preexisting collection of friends, I know the rules of social engagement much better. 
However, for every positive outcome I could get by moving back the US, there is an equal and opposite negative outcome. Whenever I imagine moving, I forget that I won’t be able to bring my well-paying job and rent-free living situation with me. I’d have to deal with the horrible US healthcare situation again. I’d go back to cat-calling and gun violence and an inability to afford an apartment of my own. That’s a big one, I must admit. Living alone is a gift I’m not sure I’m willing to part with just yet.

I’m lucky to have the job that I have, to be able to support myself at 26, debt-free, with the ability to travel on my own dime, and not have to stress about the bill at a fancy restaurant most of the time. Any time I start to complain, I try to remind myself of that. Not in a “there are STARVING CHILDREN in [insert stereotypical poor country] so EAT your green beans for crissakes” but in a more…count your blessings sort of way. Visiting home every summer is a great way to remind me of that.



Leave a Comment