Each day from August 2009 to January 2010 felt like a step down the emotional ladder. I no longer had the energy to wear a face and lie to the world outside of the apartment building. When everything feels miserable, the brevity of every second seems like an eternity. It didn’t help that the Korean sky hadn’t been blue, that the uneven sidewalks were covered with orange vomit, phlegm, and dog feces. Curiosity had long been replaced with biting cynicism.
One night, I saw two middle-aged men scream and pull at each other in Seoul Station. I wanted to walk up to these grown men, look at them in the eye and say, “Look, nobody gives a shit. Nobody. Both of you are the same as every other childish drunkard in this city. Believe it or not, there are worse things happening throughout the world than your selfish troubles. Nobody gives a shit about either. one. of. you.”
The last week of January 2010, I had only one thought running:
“I can spend another predictably difficult week battling demons,
or I can admit that I am in the worse emotional and physical shape possible, let go for once, and see that this world still operates in ways that don’t necessarily have to be the one that I’m in.”
During this train of thought, I started listening to a song that a friend posted on the Internet. I repeated the song over, and over, and over.
There was a time when my world was filled with darkness [darkness darkness].
Then I stopped dreaming, now i’m supposed to fill it up with something [something, something]
I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I’m still,
I’m still an animal.
Nobody knows it but me when I slip, yeah I slip,
I’m still an animal.
*Oye, don’t smirk! When living as a transplanted resident on the other side of the world for so long, you lose grasp on Western popular culture. Years of the same Asian bubblegum pop makes songs like the above a novelty.
I am not spontaneous. If something cannot be premeditated, I withdraw. But it was done; as a last resort, I tried spontaneity. For this one time, I listened to nothing else but my heart. The travel agent, on the other hand, didn’t seemed to have heard me right on the phone, “You want to … go to Laos … in two days? How about next week? I can arrange next week, next week is better. And it’s Laos, right? ”
Jeez, woman. I heard myself talking and was very close to taking the decision back: I damaged my bank account when it wasn’t in good shape. It’s selfish for me to leave. I don’t even know anything about Laos. I don’t even have a job. Even the lady on the phone sounds suspicious.
But then again, selflessness hadn’t been doing me any better as of late. Trying to reign every aspect of my life clearly revealed that it’s never the case. For the first time, I gave spontaneity a chance.
I packed an extra pair of pants, two T-shirts, what was left of a used bar of soap, and a toothbrush. The passport slipped into an old pouch. A quiet, organic departure was all that I needed before anyone cackled anything otherwise.
small leap #1: Nobody supports you. Don’t listen to anything else but that damn cardiac muscle in your chest that refuses to stop contracting. That said, you might have to run quietly with your ear to your heart.