Monthly Archives: April 2013

love at first

she walked slowly, for once. because in Korea anything done slowly was a luxury. the river reflected her mood and elected to recant its incessant babbling that afternoon for a slower, more gentle trickle.

it was a windy spring day, sunny after raining all morning and the moisture and the sun made it too warm for her leather jacket, but the wind made it too cool not to be wearing a scarf.

her mind wandered back to saturday night, back to him, the man she had met and connected with. it was monday afternoon and so she she was stuck in that exquisite place of excitement at meeting someone possibly wonderful, yet anxiety at the fact that he hadn’t followed up with her yet.

she thought of him even as she tried to concentrate on the sounds surrounding her: the stream; her footsteps on the soft path. The sounds of cars and trucks whizzing by on the road above.

It almost worked, except that her mind wandered back to him and how she felt like she could love.

It was too soon to think love, but abroad the rules were different. And anyway, if she could know in an instant, if she could assess someone and immediately know that he was someone she could never love, someone who would never hold her interest, then why couldn’t she know after spending hours with one man that he possessed the credentials and the humor and the energy and the wit–and that between them there was the chemistry–of someone that she could?

Maybe he would not be her First Man,

the one into whose soul she would see. She wanted to learn how to love without feeling the need to possess–a goal that was certainly a long way off from her current nature. And yet she knew enough to want it, and wanting it would lead to pursuing it, which would lead to one day experiencing a love without ultimatums; without restraints.

She pictured his face; heard his voice telling her that there was just something about her, felt herself sleeping soundly beside him.

“I want to love you without possessing you. I want you to love me without possessing me. I want to soar together in freedom,” she said out loud.

It had been an entire Sunday and Monday and she still hadn’t heard from him, and she thought about love and “too soon” and possession. It was true, she did tend to get carried away in these things.

She sighed and continued to walk. Her apartment building was there in the distance.

Maybe my first lesson in learning to love without possession is you, she thought to the man whose name she didn’t even know. Maybe that was to be our only encounter. Maybe I am to love you, but let you go.

And then she thought about the small moments, and how they had the power to permanently change a woman’s life.


To Boston, to Afghanistan, with Love

A little project we did in my English Club

Traveler’s Thoughts

“Wake up,” a small voice whispered to her from inside.

She was on a bus from Seoul, Macklemore in her ears, ministering to and prodding her as she thought about her life. Her eyes were closed, but she was hardly asleep, as it had been one of those weekends where you’re forced to spend too much time with yourself and so you’re half-resting, half-thinking but mostly just trying to block it all out.

Eyes shut, head nodded, breath slow, she tried to slip into sleep or to lose herself into the lyrics of her latest obsession.

That was the thing about her, and it was one of the many things she had tried to leave behind when she moved across the world: she dove headfirst into anything. Even a rapper–if it was raw, if it was real, if it touched her, really touched her,

then she was obsessed with it.

It was part of what made her feel alive,
but lately she was less into feeling alive and more into saving face, which she guessed was a great thing since she’d moved to Asia.

But when she got to Korea, she found that the rumors were just lies–that the Koreans she’d met were just as direct and honest and real, or else as infuriatingly indirect and into covering their own asses, as any people from the U.S. she’d ever met, and so she spent a decent amount of time thinking in passing about how marvelous/disappointing a thing it is to be on the other side of the world and yet feel like your life is exactly the same, almost.

That was when she allowed herself to think at all,
because she mostly just allowed herself to be pulled along, mute and complicit as she tried to make her pace in life fit what seemed to be everyone else’s.

Mostly, she just wanted to be different.
This time, she wanted it to be different from before.

She had understood when her new friend had remarked in passing that most of the types who settled overseas were running from something; she recognized that quality in herself, although she didn’t admit it at the time because she mostly wanted to live and breathe only surface things, and avoid emotional honesty if at all possible.

And perhaps unsurprisingly in fulfilling that mission something inside of her had fallen asleep, and she found herself for the first time in her life with no direction, no motivation, and no real goals for the future. The thought that had started with “enjoy your achievement” had taken root and sprouted as “you have arrived–the hard part’s over,” and she found that her mind, her passion, her creativity, and her heart, exhausted from years of exertion, had collectively decided to take a nap.

And none of this might have even mattered if it hadn’t been for the hours she’d spent on her couch by herself–something that always showed her immediately what was inside. When she was at peace, it was her favorite pastime, nothing but her, Netflix and her Kindle. When she wasn’t at peace, she would watch coming-of-age movies about life and love and wonder why it was never her, and then she would remember all the times she’d got it wrong, and those things collectively would start to break down her fences.

And so she sank into the luxury seat on the bus trip back from Seoul and she listened to Macklemore because it was the first thing in a while that made her really feel, and she closed her eyes to fall asleep, but something inside her told her it was time to wake up.

And she wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but she pictured herself with a cello and knew that was the first step; for 10 years her cello had been her extension of herself and she had carted it with her everywhere, even if she almost never played it. Its presence reminded her constantly of a part of her that she would always seek to cultivate, but when she left for Korea she had locked it in storage,
a metaphor of she ever knew one, looking back.

And so she decided that it starts with a cello and it would probably end in the place she was always running from, because it seemed her greatest obsessions, heartaches and losses shared a core with her creativity, her vision, her own unique movement and flow through life, and apparently it was time to go back to that place again.


It has slowly occurred to me over the past couple of weeks how  careful  I have been this past year. I have set boundaries for myself that are really designed to make sure that I’m always presenting myself in “the best” light (one that I have deemed appropriate of a 26-year-old).

My coteacher told me the other day that I think too much about what other people think of me. This was because we hadn’t been getting along and I told her I was concerned that this would make the vice principal dislike me (and therefore all Americans and blacks, my mind continued). 

My coteacher told me that we were at a busy high school and people had better things to do than worry about me (my coteacher is very direct).

In a way, I guess this is what going abroad is for. It’s to remove you from everything that was familiar and place you square in front of your one true common denominator: you. You are your common denominator, and there’s no arguing that in a place where nothing is the same as it was before. If I’m having similar types of problems (or achievements!) then they stem from me and facts is facts.

But back to being careful.

Last year I had some experiences that just made me feel like I was making an ass of myself entirely too much to be 25 years old, and so I began to set a lot of boundaries for myself so that I wouldn’t do that.

And without commenting on whether or not that’s “good” or “bad,” I will say that it has helped me to achieve my goal of not making an ass of myself.

But it has also contributed to me developing a trepidation toward “loosening up,” really loosening up. Because even when I’m hanging out and having fun, I’m still very much trying to maintain a level of control so that things don’t get out of hand.

Is this just regular ol’ growing up?

Last weekend I went to Seoul, and I wanted to spend only Friday night there. I wanted to come home Saturday night and do my regular ol bullshit of staying up until 5 am watching TV on the internet and laying around and whatnot.

Well, things ended up playing out in such a manner that I stayed in Seoul (with my friends) on Saturday night too, and at first I was inexplicably sad. And then I thought to myself “what’s the harm in staying another night, really? Yeah you’ll spend money you didn’t mean to and you’ll be tired…..but so what? Loosen up.” And that was the first time I realized how tense I’ve been for the past year (I had a great night btw).

I’ve started drinking again, and last night I was at a wine bar and I was drunk. As my friend C put it, “I can tell you’re drunk because you haven’t reapplied your lipstick” (I had just bought some $40 Chanel red lipstick, heaven help me). And I insisted I wasn’t drunk as a drunk person must.

And then this guy in our friend group turns to me and say something like “You just noticed me.” And I was confused, but not confused. I knew what he meant, but it was surprising to hear it said out loud.

And I feigned noncomprehension and insisted that I’d been talking with, of and to him the entire night, but I still knew what he meant, which is hard to articulate, but it’s the difference between looking and seeing I guess. 

And he said “well maybe you’re just more discreet when you’re sober,” and it hit me. Yet another area where I’ve been so tense, so afraid to take a risk, so afraid of getting rejected or making an ass of myself. I’m so afraid to get caught even noticing a guy, for this crippling fear of rejection and humiliation and of course making an ass of myself.

What is the balance? How do I open up and show the true me without fear of people’s (or my own) judgement, yet also conduct myself with the decorum that suggests that I’m 26, not 19?

Or am I already doing that and just thinking too much?