March 10th-ish 2019
‘It must be the terrible air quality,’ I tell myself. ‘It must be everything like: not having friends, not being able to be in a community, not getting my favorite oolong tea at the tea shop next to church.”
Wednesday, Seoul air quality peaked to the point where I thought the world was filming Blade Runner or it was time to meet Jesus. I got to the theatre and sat down at my desk helplessly, I have never felt so dazed or spaced out. Tracing back the little events of my week, I breathed three little phrases: ‘I’m courageous, I’m kind, I’m enough.’ Repeat.
Ashley and Fanny just visited, umma made delicious meals, there’s a vegan bakery with the most scrumptious scones and garlic bread, I get to listen to some of the most talented people in the world sing some of my favorite Disney songs every evening, and my lungs can filter out this terrible air—sort of.
Counting down the days back home is no way to live. Umma has been a comfort to me but she misses her comfort. Her choice of attending a 40-day seminar seems like an insane decision to her now. We encourage each other through thanking each other’s existence and yummy snacks like digestive cookies paired with tea and coffee. Day counting is a forbidden activity.
Appa found a genius way for me to return to Taiwan—genius, obvious, yet tedious. The working holiday application process for Taiwan is less chance-oriented than the UK one. It’s a lot of documents collecting and it turns out I have no vaccination records in Korea. Umma has been very umma-y about going to the health centers and getting the nurses to transfer my records from the official Taiwan documents. I love and hate the fact I lived outside of my passport country. There needs to be an international health care system or something, please. So with this plan, I may be back in my turf by April.
flash forward to April 2nd
I didn’t want to write. Our little guest house was a tiny room with a tiny kitchen and a tiny bathroom. Sure, I went out but roaming around alone, but alone can get lonely. Sure, I had a cushy space but it wasn’t home. I wanted to craft but there weren’t any tools. I wanted to go out but couldn’t find an adventure buddy. These weren’t excuses. The waiting zone gives you a different reality.
My gig at The Lion King ended as soon as the stage manager I was covering for came back earlier than expected. When I got the news, I was ecstatic rather than indignant. Every little detail about this job felt like a dream come true but the more I stayed, the more I knew I didn’t want to do this forever. I told umma and appa with a sigh of relief, they praised the Lord.
In a way, the three months in Korea was just a practical lesson. Seeing how Seoulites socialize made me thankful of my upbringing. Breathing in the metro stench full of booze and smoke made me long for Taipei metro where the seating arrangement actually allows personal bubbles. I was put in a situation where most theatre students would kill for—just to learn that I don’t want to be in that world. I’m not saying I hate Korea—I love its delicious food, vibrant culture, and mega-long history (I still have yet to learn more about it)—but I can finally say I have first-hand experienced its cruelty and the fact that bubble tea is around 100NTD.
Now I’m home. I forgot how comfy my own bed felt and that it takes more than 5 steps to walk around my house. Hanging out with my beautiful friends after church Sunday reminded me of how much I love people and how much I missed my home-y church.
The working holiday visa lasts for a year, though something nudges me “not quite”. I keep saying I want to write more so I shall. Though I’m still learning to embrace the doesn’t-have-to-be-perfect mentality, I will force myself to type up something each day. I decided to join this little challenge called ESCAPRIL where people write a poem a day based on the prompt. Poetry always felt too pretentious but I’d like to have a go at it. You can find them in the Koko Writes section.
Other than writing daily, I plan to craft, talk future, and actually travel around Taiwan. Looking for a couple of adventure geeks to go to the Orchid Islands in November or something. Let me know—I’m a great travel buddy.