I sometimes forget I’m living abroad. You’re probably thinking, How is that possible? And it’s a perfectly logical question. I understand little to nothing that anyone says and I stand out–with my white skin, green eyes, brown hair, beard, and frequent flamboyance–sort of like a red prom dress would in a funeral procession. Nevertheless, now that comparatively little about Korea or Korean culture is unfamiliar to me anymore, I do sometimes forget, if only for a few moments or so at a time, that I haven’t always been here. Maybe that seems odd to you, and that seeming oddness might make sense if you’re the sort who’s always felt an integral part of something. I haven’t, though. This is a tired old confession, which it seems that everyone makes (honestly or just in a moment of depression) at some point in their lives, but, in fact, I’ve never felt as if I truly fit in anywhere. A fairly large part of that is due to the fact that I’ve spent all but the past six months of my life in the closet, but that’s only one reason among a vast multitude, the host of which I don’t intend to share with you simply because I’d like to maintain your interest in what I have to say.
This is Part II of a two-part post. To read Part I, click here.
In many ways, my escape from ORU in spring of 2011 turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory. Over Fall Break in 2010, I had gone on a university-led educational trip to Washington, D.C., which included a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol by noted pseudo-historian David Barton, a tour of Fox News’ D.C. bureau facilitated by Kelly Wright, and, of course, a visit to the Family Research Council. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting. I’ll never forget standing with Barton in the middle of Statuary Hall awkwardly singing “God Bless America,” or seeing Charles Krauthammer whisk by in his wheelchair at Fox en route to pontificate for Special Report, or meeting Juan Williams a few days before he got fired from NPR. It’s just that the irony of it being called an “educational” trip didn’t dawn on me until some time later.
Two years ago, I was in a phase not terribly different from where I am now. I was at home, it was a few days after Christmas, and I had just laid down for sleep when a jolt of excitement shot through my body, beginning at the top of my spine and ending at the soles of my feet. See, I was inching closer and closer, one day at a time, to the day when I would leave on jet plane to a faraway city to begin a new adventure. Okay, granted, it was a less-faraway city and a much shorter adventure, one that had a very different outcome (hopefully) than the one I prepare for now. Just bear with me.
Seeing as how this post is coming mere days before the beginning of a new year, I suppose it’s convenient to make it a “year in review” sort of thing, but, just to be clear, I don’t feel obligated to constrain life’s arcs to an arbitrary unit of time. This particular post picks up primarily in late 2010. Even with my hesitance to impose a narrative structure onto life’s chaotic happenstance, I can comfortably say that the current arc of “my story” began then and with what one might conservatively call a “series of unfortunate events.” (Incidentally, my sole New Year’s resolution is to reach a point of comfort saying “my story” outside quotations.) But first, a bit of back story to get us rolling. After all, the beginning of one arc in a story is quite often the end of another.