Behind me, many leagues down a long and forlorn road lay the ruins of a city. Years have passed since a raucous mob burst through gates once thought impenetrable and pulled down walls once thought insurmountable. In the interceding years, rains have washed the fire-blackened soot from the streets. Ravens and swallows have built nests in the partially exposed timbers of burned-out houses. Rabbits have built warrens beneath the stones of the empty square and squirrels scamper along upper ledges, gracefully bounding across the void when they encounter a collapsed facade. No people reside here anymore: they all died in a futile attempt to defend the doomed polis as torches set it ablaze, fled in terror at the destruction, or else departed in its wake to seek greener pastures elsewhere. With that description, it would certainly be easy to look upon this scene in sadness and remorse, but not so for me. Were I to travel back along that rutted road to the place I left long ago, I would not see the remains of a place once happy and vibrant, but one that was full of oppression, confusion, and heartache. I would feel neither regret nor loss, but something akin to a soaring contentment, perhaps not unlike to the sort of feeling a freeman might experience were he able to look from a place of safety upon the decrepit estate of his deposed former master. This city is not a real place, as you may have guessed by now. It is instead a metaphor for something that once existed within and held great power over me but does no longer. That thing would be my faith. Continue reading
Everything happens so much. Yes, I know @horse_ebooks is fake, but I don’t care. When I sat down in this random coffee shop in Burien, Washington, to start fleshing out my thoughts on the transpirations of the past few weeks, that was the first quote to slide across my mental marquee. For those just tuning in, I am no longer in Korea. My last day of work at Daegu-Gyeongbuk English Village (DGEV) was Friday, February 27, the day before my twenty-fifth birthday. There were times over the past six months or so when I thought that day would never come and now, quite ironically, it feels a bit like the distant past given everything that’s happened since. Continue reading
There’s an image to which I can’t help but return. It’s one I’ve written about at least twice in the past year and it continues to be something I often contemplate. It’s an image of ruins, and I’m standing in the midst of them. Even so, to say that the ruins represent my life would be a gross exaggeration and wholly inaccurate. My life is demonstrably not in ruins. Quite the contrary, in fact: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and that’s not an exaggeration. In the time that has passed since I came to this country, I’ve built a life for myself according to specifications and desires all my own and, in some ways, it feels like I’ve finally started living. The picture of ruins that often comes to mind represents life before February 25, 2013, the day when my plane first set down in the Republic of Korea, one year ago this week. When I got on the plane in Dallas, I didn’t leave behind a life I ever hope to resume and that sentiment only strengthens with time.
When this year began, there were a lot of things I’d never done before. I’d never spent more than two weeks outside the United States. I’d never been left to my own devices with a classroomful of children. I’d never lived in a real city (sorry, Tulsa). I’d never been to Asia. I’d never held a full-time job. I’d never had a boyfriend. I’d never kissed a guy. So, yes, as should be obvious by this point, I’ve experienced a lot of firsts this year.
I’m not sure how anyone else’s 2013 went, but mine was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. People seem commonly to arrive at year’s end and experience mostly mixed sentiments. To be honest, I don’t really understand why. I’ve long believed that one of the principal keys to, if not happiness, then contentment is the robust management of expectation.
Their affirmations of “yes, teacher” were of course accompanied by seismic eye-rolls and I had little confidence in their intention to heed my warning. In fact, I think we barely made it another minute and half before I simply stopped trying to talk over them, walked to the back of the room and turned off the thermostat, then methodically unlatched and slid open each window in the classroom. With the windows open, there was nothing to hold back the hot, sticky, Korean summer air from steamrolling through and turning the classroom into something just short of a sauna, which it did, and in barely any time at all. Continue reading