This title is a song by Mumford & Sons. “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” Click to listen: Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons
So, I’ve decided to move to South Korea as I mentioned before. I’m still waiting for interviews, but I’m pretty certain that I’ll be there by October since the demand is so high. Although I am more on board with this than I was originally, I’m still… grieving over the loss of Europe. I know that it will only be put on hold for a while (or who knows where the wind will take me next), and I know that there’s a reason I should be going to Korea… but I’m still a bit sad. I can see a life in Europe SO CLEARLY! I can see myself in a little apartment with white tile floors, old furniture that’s sunken in and appliances that have been worn down and left behind from previous tenants, a small terrace or deck that I can sit on every morning and drink coffee, waking up with the day. The windows and door would always be open to let the breeze through the house, and I would sit on the porch with good friends on a balmy summer night with good wine, some bread and cheese with sausage, all bought that day at the market. A night filled with good conversation and flavorful wine.
I can also see myself someday in an older house with stone or concrete walls, a big kitchen (not that I really know what to do with it), and a nice backyard with a little wrought-iron table and chairs with wine always handy. I would walk or ride a bike into town on the narrow cobble stone streets, passing old grandmothers draped in black talking of their youth and bragging of their grandchildren in their heavy foreign accents. Clothes drying from windows, hanging on lines blowing in the light breeze; the scent of fresh laundry and the ingredients of tonight’s dinner simmering, floating past your nose, tempting you, luring you to walk into their house and have them greet you like one of their own. In the city center I pass dozens of shops displaying their fresh bread, delicate pastries and gelato, children screaming and playing soccer in the streets, women so stunningly put together with their designer clothes, impossibly high heels and perfectly salon-styled hair while gorgeous men, taking drags of their cigarettes, comment (with genuine sincerity) on the beautiful women that cross their path. Young travelers with their loaded backpacks and sensible shoes, always equipped with a Lonely Planet, strolling the streets and ducking into shops with handmade goods – souvenirs for loved ones back home and proof of their travels.
I would spend part of my day in a small café drinking their potent espresso, writing and reading or just watching the different characters pass by. Business men come and go making deals over lattes and biscotti, rich older women, who married into even older money, pass by the window with their little dogs stuffed in their Chanel handbags, meeting one another for afternoon tea. I would walk through the market sampling fresh-cut meats, fruits and vegetables, purchasing everything that looked good and interesting to eat. At night I would go get tapas and drinks with a group of friends or sit on a terrace listening to the guitar, harmonica, clarinet or whatever the sound of the night brings, immersing myself, losing myself in the music and my surroundings. I would go to a local bar on a balmy night, drink some wine and dance with an impossibly handsome stranger, giving myself into the romance that is distinctly Europe.
I can see this all so clearly. I have imagined this since I can remember, but apparently it’s not yet time. Maybe it’s because once I get to Europe I’ll never want to leave. I can see myself settling down in Europe, but I can’t see myself settling down anywhere else. I want to see and travel more of Asia – I guess I just thought that Europe would come first. I’ll be twenty-five years old in a few days and the thought of staying in one place, even the same region, for a long period of time feels unnatural. I feel… not exactly comfortable in Asia, but a sense of security and relative safeness. In my travels throughout this continent so far (India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Japan), the people there have been the nicest I’ve ever come across. Always smiling and laughing (often at your expense but it’s all in good fun), and I’m finally giving into the fact that this is where I’m supposed to be. Some people believe that fate, or the idea that everything happens for a reason, is something that people make up to feel better about their decisions or life circumstances. But what’s so wrong with that? It makes you take a fresh look at the direction of your life and appreciate or learn from the new things that come your way. Believe what you want, but I feel called there even though I have fought it so hard. I think that I’m ready for Europe, but it’s just. not. my. time. And that’s OK – like I’ve said before, the worst thing about this situation is that I have to spend some more time exploring the world, putting my European visions on hold.
So, I wonder what my life will be like in South Korea. There are a ton of expats there so making friends shouldn’t really be a struggle. I have the mentality that I’m sure I’ll meet at least one amazing person to connect with out of all of the people there, and if not, I LOVE my alone time. However, I’ve really only planned for my life in Europe… I have no idea what to expect of Asia. I picture everything less romantic. Unusual smells, crowded and dirty streets, run-down buildings, cheap neon signs, stray animals, unfamiliar traditions, and a totally different mindset of what life should be like and what’s to be expected. I realize that everything will be different no matter where I go, but I was preparing for a European kind of different.
I know though that these are the things that I need to experience. To be uncomfortable and to get over it. To embrace the beautiful culture that will surround me. To make new friends that will be in my heart forever. To be humbled. To experience Asia.