Seoul Speak: Bright Lights in the Big City

Insanity is what they called it but I like to think that I successfully unplugged from the matrix that was my former life. I spent three years unbecoming everything I was conditioned to believe I was and at the end of it, I needed a vacation like a burger needs fries. A trip to Seoul was just what the doctor ordered and I had no idea how life affirming it would be. I have always felt like an alien on earth, never fitting in but always standing out. Because of this, I have never felt comfortable in my skin and my environment.

From the moment I landed in Seoul, everything changed. Hope and a longing for something I could not name replaced my hurt feelings. I stayed in Itaewon-dong and was instantly captivated by the district. I felt something click deep inside me and for the first time in my life, I felt at home. After settling in and getting rid of that pesky jetlag, I decided it was time for a good old-fashioned adventure. I packed a bag with snacks was on my way. It late Saturday afternoon and the neighborhood were getting ready to enjoy the night. I bought some Soju at the 7/11 and sat down on a sidewalk bench to take in the sights. Not a cloud in the sky and the moon was full and radiant. The air smelt of the amalgamated perfume of beautiful women and fresh fruit from the open market sales earlier in the afternoon.

People filled the street and at once, you could feel the joy in their heart as they were all on the same mission of enjoyment. The atmosphere was light as jovial sounds, the aromas of coffee and fried pastries filled the air. As I sat sipping my chilled Soju, I couldn’t help but notice that I too was getting caught up in the excitement. Though I chose to sit and observe, I realized that I was being drawn into the festivities. The streetlights coupled with the moonbeams illuminated the neighborhood and the vehicles moved in sync to the rhythm of the multiple beating hearts. There was togetherness present in the interactions of the people I hadn’t seen since my kindergarten years. A sense of camaraderie and security I didn’t know I needed but suddenly craved more of erupted within me. Though race and culture divided us that night, we were united by a sense of purpose. For the first time in my life I felt I finally found a place where I belonged. It took three years of unbecoming to finally become the person I was destined to be and it took traveling to Seoul to discover that. I may have lost my mind, but I found my soul in Seoul.