Tonight, I am looking at the moon, Daddy. It tells me that it’s 8 am by you. It whispers thoughts and prayers for you so far away. Everyday, Mom, I wake up and look at the ocean counting the tablespoons of salt water that separate you from me. I send you kisses on the tides, hoping you receive them.
Today, a normal Korean Thursday, made me so sick inside. My ex-pat friends gathered at the foreigner bars to share some semblance of home. I made Brinner for a dear friend and I, and we watched The Daily Show. I couldn’t handle being around many foreigners tonight. It seems so Piano Man—someone’s playing memories, but we’re not sure how they go. We just want to forget about life for a while.
When I asked a friend who has been here a while how she deals with it, her response struck me quite strangely—either adopt Korean traditions and holidays or gather with your foreign friends to remind yourself of home. She, of course, put it more eloquently. In that moment of consideration, I recognised that I do not want to adopt Korean traditions, because that would also suggest that I believe in fan death and that writing your name in red means you’re going to die. On the other hand, a gathering of foreign friends also seems like a husk of what it should be. My family has ridiculous traditions that usually end up with me passed out on Uncle Beaver’s recliner or davenport.
Last night, some friends and I cobbled together a phenomenal Thanksgiving dinner. And by cobbled, I certainly mean that we tore that nonsense up. K brought her A-game with four different dishes (one of which were pumpkin tarts that were unbelievably good. We had several metaphors for their taste, none of which are public forum appropriate). BH brought a bean salad that burst with flavour and also out of the bowl. J produced a squash doohickey that was citrusy and tart and date balls, at which my friends, with the average maturity of a 7th grade boys bathroom stall, snickered (it might have mostly been me). And, there was wine to go around.
And, while I looked around the room last night, I felt a kinship with these women. It is a kind that human words cannot capture, just emotion. Each of these people has changed my life in such a significant way that wherever our adventures take us, they will always be nestled in a safe place never forgotten.
I thought back to the years I have known my best friends. Every life step I’ve taken, they’ve been there with me—to either support me or yell at me, or sometimes both. But, they love me without abandon. I look at my friends back home, and I would be such a worse person without them. They’ve taught me compassion, kindness, well-timed wit, and a healthy dose of self-confidence.
Today, especially, I very poignantly miss my sister. She has been my best friend, my worst enemy, and everything in between. We are such different people, with different goals and opinions, but I know that she will always look out for me. I want so badly to be with you today, Sarah. I want to hug you and play euchre and giggle and finish each other’s sentences. I don’t know if this makes it better or worse. But, I am a mess right now and currently undergoing a very needed cathartic break.
Today’s message sounds exactly like a high schooler’s daily journal hastily scribbled in an acid washed composition notebook. But, I feel today. I feel scared and young and not even a little bit ready to be living in a country thousands of miles away from home. But, then I look at the things you’ve given me, friends. You have given me strength, faith, and perseverance.
I surround myself, either physically or digitally, with people who want only the best for me. I draw power from all of you, knowing that with it I will be the best person I can be. I hope I make you proud.