The Heart of the Matter

Cherry blossoms in my grape slushy.
White butterflies dancing in the sunlight.
The smell of the subway, balancing on the edge of the platform and feeling the rush of wind as it arrives and you push your way on while trying to avoid the high heels of the Korean girl in front of you.

It’s official. We’ve extended our contracts until October. My feelings regarding this remain dichotomous, as always, ever divided. On one hand, I am excited about this opportunity as this will afford Dave and I the chance to travel more extensively, and travel plans currently include Japan, Thailand (again), possibly Cambodia, and Laos as well. I’m on this side of the globe, I’m damn well going to take advantage of that and it is with great anticipation that I plunge myself into this next segment of this thing that I’ve gotten myself into. On the other hand…I do miss home. I miss my family, I miss my friends. I miss acting. I miss dancing. I miss tea at Steeps and rehearsals with KGB. I miss dinner at The Coupe and cosmopolitans just about anywhere.
Homesickness here in Korea is, from what I understand, a healthy, necessary expression and reaction to the continuous stream of change surrounding you at any given point. It can also be devastating, terrifying and a panic attack ridden spiral that can suck you into a black hole of depression where no one knows to look for you.
Or so I’m told…
OK, so maybe I’m slightly exaggerating. Maybe.
It comes and goes though, and after 10 months here, I can honestly report that it does get easier, better, as does everything with time, but the knowledge that this life I am creating here is a temporary one does stay in the forefront of the mind. It’s strange to me that in my four years at an out-of-province university, I am hard-pressed to recall an occasion where I truly longed for home, or home as I knew it at least. Homesickness was a distant memory for me then, something I remembered with a small smile when I thought back to my first sleepovers, nights away from my own bed, summer camps when I was eight years old. And even if I did feel a pang of it from time to time, it was quickly brushed aside and forgotten about in the flurry of theatre, friends and university life. Coming to Korea, I imagined it would be the same way, with the first few weeks an exception as my adjustment to a foreign culture was underway. Once I got past that, I figured, I would be home free.

Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t been a weeping ball of heartache, longing for the comforts of all that I hold near and dear. Far from it. But there have been times when, for the strangest of reasons, at the oddest of times, it’ll hit me how very far away I am, and how much I miss those things, those people, that I haven’t seen in a very long time, that I love dearly. Sometimes the why and when is obvious. Opening night of the Sex and the City movie, dressed to the nines and sipping a pink concoction of soju and juice that we had snuck into the theatre, Shannon and I were beside ourselves with excitement. The estrogen-filled theatre let out a scream of delight as the movie began, and I forgot where I was for a little while as familiar characters told me a story in a familiar language. But once the credits began to roll and the lights came up, I looked around and suddenly, sharply, felt the absence of my girlfriends and their conversation and laughter. I looked at Shannon and knew she was thinking the same thing. We smiled at each other in recognition, ditched our boyfriends and sat in the park drinking and talking until 4am.
Thanks Shan…I needed that.

Other times, it’s not so obvious, like the time I agreed to take one of my classes to the media room and show them pictures of my family, after weeks of them asking me to do so. They laughed at the candid shots of the Morris clan “interacting” with each other, exclaimed how handsome my brothers were, how they liked my mom’s earrings and were amazed that my father could play the guitar. More, more, they said. So I showed them pictures of some of the shows I had been in, nights at the Auburn, road trips with the KGB, martini nights with the girls. And as they laughed and enjoyed them selves, the lump in my throat got bigger and bigger and I was relieved when the bell rang, and they poured out of the darkened room while my eyes did a bit of pouring of their own.

It’s a fucking rollercoaster, complete with stomach swoops, exhilarating rushes and the perpetual threat of nausea.
But you can find healing in the strangest of places.
In the midst of a street overflowing with people, being pushed and pulled by the ebb and flow of the crowd. Wandering aimlessly through side streets and alleys, breathing in the smells of fried food, sugar, and heavy, damp air. Sipping vodka martini’s on a throbbing dance floor, blurred mixtures of Korean and English filling the sweaty air. Walking to the gym on a cool, clear morning; sleep still numbing the corners of your mind, feeling your muscles preparing for their familiar routine.
On the patio of an overpriced coffee shop, sipping pomegranate iced tea and cherryade with the man you love.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Ditto Steph - out of the blue - someone that reminds me of you/looks like you/walks like you - I do miss you. Still and all, happy for the opportunity you have afforded yourself by doing exactly what you're doing. Love you lots,
mom
Bethany said…
Thanks for making me cry before noon. ;) So happy for you to be having such a wonderful, enriching adventure. More importantly, can't wait to see you when you get home. xoxoxox

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