Six Months Later...
One of my co-workers proposed the idea that it ought to be hard for me to tell my students apart [because they are all Korean]. Quite the contrary, however; I don't even see them as Korean. They're all weird, booger-picking, sweaty, awkward, prepubescent children, whom I adore, and who are all unique in their own ways (cliché? Yes. Very.). It's a strange but simple thing to articulate given where I come from and where I now live, but I often forget that I am a foreigner living among homogeneity. I see myself as an ordinary human being doing the extraordinary job of raising children (over 500 children, at that). I don't find it so extraordinary that I'm a Nigerian-American in Korea. I find it amazing that I have such a strong and direct influence over the byebies I interact with. Influence is truly power, and edifying youth is how we can direct the future. Anyway... back to the damn point. There are times when I'm forced to snap back to reality - when it's made clear to me that I am really an outsider: 1) When there is a staff meeting about sexual harassment and bribery, and I wasn't required to attend, but I still have to sign documents written wholly in Korean that say I attended and understand the information; 2) When my rather bright and articulate student points out that my skin is so black and asks why my lips are the same color as my face (hahahahahaha it was really, really hard for me to hold my laughter in class, but you know, gotta keep it together when you're an authority figure); 3) When people are talking about me while I'm in the same room with them, instead of talking to me (Yes, I can piece together what you're saying, even if you're not speaking Engrish (spelling not racial, I swear. I'm the only one on this block who says English like this)). Those three are top of mind when it comes to what makes me feel different while living here. Otherwise, I just feel like myself. I mean what does it really mean to feel "at home" somewhere? I know the definition changes per person, but for me it means (and I think I briefly mentioned it in another post) that I've got a safe haven that I've curated to make me feel good and reflect who I am, and where I have my local spots I can go to for what I need and want.
My life is super simple nowadays, and I am (very fortunately) not in want of anything. If I want a cappuccino, my lady with the cute hairstyle at Paris Baguette will make it with love and one pump of syrup, just how mama likes it. At the grocery store (that I visit far too often), my people know not to ask me if I need a bag and just chrowwww-way my receipt, because that's how I do! Btw, yes, I do look crazy carrying my bananas, tuna, yogurt, and wine home in my bare arms; ain't nobody checkin' for me though, so mi dyun cyare!
I've also been spending a lot of time alone and off of social media, which over-sensationalizes and catastrophizes things happening in life, and typically makes me unnecessarily anxious. Plus, it helps me with not comparing my life with other peoples' (which doesn't make sense anyway, because our lives are incomparable in general). Other things... I became vegetarian after visiting Vietnam where I believe I turned into half-pig because of all the pork I ate, got laser eye surgery, completed 6 weeks (and counting!) of intense blogilates on YouTube, completed a Coursera course ahead of schedule, and I'm pretty sure my locs grew about 6ft. I mean, that's how much damn new-growth it looked like I had on my head before retwisting. Damn near looking like a Marley.
But anyway, I'm happy where I am, and have been feeling more and more often that I am exactly where I need to be, and who I need to be with. The sun is shining, cherry blossoms are dancing, and the breeze is tickling me. Sure, micro-dust may be polluting my airways, but I'm not gonna let that stop me from smelling the roses.
Here's a smile for good measure :)
Until next time!