Enjoy your battery acid, grown-up.
I remember the very first time I tried a sip of beer: it was cold, out of the bottle, my father’s brand. I was young, and as with most young boys had a vague idolization of everything my father did as the epitome of adulthood. Beer, I thought, was certainly a part of adulthood, and I was a big boy. I deserved to drink the big boy drinks. After enough pestering, and with a knowing eyeroll, my father offered me a sip.
I may have spat it on the ground. Beer sucked.
I found this obvious and unhidden wizard time-portal in Busan. It was just lying there for anyone to use!
There are times when I imagine a rending of the universe, like a zipper coming down in the thin sheen of reality. The fabric of space and time rips open, and out pops me: a me with more years, with more miles. He would be drenched in a coating of intertemporal vernix, because that’s what happens with time-travel. There would be lines on his face, scars on his skin, and also a time-machine, because I like to think I would have found access to that sort of technology. He would be coming back to talk to old me with news of great import, if he had bothered to travel back at all: grave danger or some sort of quest. But I also wonder at what kind of look he would give me. What kind of advice he would give me.
I wonder if he would totally hate my guts.
Irrelevant stock photo of the week: what Michael first thought of when he thought of being old
Over the phone, I was told that Faith and Ty couldn’t meet me for a while, because they were going to spend the next few hours at the gym. I sat up from my couch, where I had been lazing in weekend afternoon splendour, disgusted and repulsed. I was in my underwear, and probably crusted with a fine corona of cookie crumbs. It was 3 p.m. “That sounds terrible. Why would you do that?”
“I don’t know,” Faith muttered. “I think we’re getting boring. I came home from grocery shopping the other day and was excited and asked if he wanted to know what new spices I bought.” She paused, as though wondering if I myself might inquire about these new spices. I did not. “Being an adult sucks.”
Photo seemingly unrelated? No! A photo from my first few months in Korea.
Moving to Korea is a lot like being born and growing up. You land, get off the plane, and you’re practically covered in placenta: shaky, sensitive to light and temperature, unable to properly digest the food. Your sleep is completely thrown off after leaving the womb that is the plane. Everyone speaks in crazed, bizarre mutterings, none of which you understand. You are alone and confused, and you need the care of others just to maintain ongoing survival. But this state is quickly forgotten once you get the hang of life, and you very quickly want to put those childish things behind you.
Related stock photo for opening metaphor? Oh, do I have some.
Children, en masse, are like the sea. They are capricious and dangerous, and awing and inspiring, and also maybe filled with crustaceans. Their emotions are torrential and stormy, and a bad mood creeping over their waters can spell marine tragedy for whatever wayfaring, Ishmael-esque figure decides to brave the waves. And they are controlled by the season, by the moon and the sun, by the passing of time, and the slow burn of spring into summer, the great chill of fall into winter. The tides shift and become impassable, and then suddenly the waters calm.
Homewall. My unyielding source of stock photography.
Whenever I’m particularly nostalgic, I like to think back to exactly how many people I have claimed to, or who have claimed to me, that we would be friends forever. I usually stop when the list grows too naively, foolishly long. I forgive myself those who I claimed life-long allegiance to from Kindergarten until about mid-high school, as friendships that last more than a year through schooling basically count as a lifetime friendship, anyway. But even as I’ve grown older, I seem to be perfectly confident of the longevity of the friendships I adopt, only to see them evaporate once the situation no longer holds us in one another’s company.
Photographering. Like a big boy.
I fancy myself an adult when I can. It’s an alluring notion. That I am grown up, and capable, and that, as such an upstanding and able young man, I do grown-up things. What are grown-up things? I’ve developed theories over time. It’s taken me decades to even formulate the concept of an adult beyond that which I developed when I was 5: people who are taller, louder, bossier, and occasionally provide me with sustenance. But now I see them (no, no: us?) as people who take charge, who read and drink wine and exchange witticisms and eat succulent dinners, often prepared by themselves or people in tall, white hats. They have expensive, enigmatic, aloof hobbies which they share with other mustachioed or beret-sporting adults. They do adult-things. I want nothing more than to permanently break into this racket.
Hop on board.
The first time I can remember being on a plane, I made number of observations. The predominant one in my young noggin, upon glancing out the oval porthole to the great, cloudy panorama beyond, was, “Where all the angels at?” (I was a very literal child, and when I discovered a distinct lack of winged cherubs lazing about in the sky, I was remarkably unhappy). The next thoughts: I don’t like the food, the seat is uncomfortable, and oh my god how are we not there yet. I also remember looking around, seeing families, and then seeing lone adults, especially young ones, and being bewildered. What were they doing? Where were their mommies? How would they not die?
All clean on the western front.
To redouble the difficulties of moving to a foreign country, the onslaught of my big dumb adventure in Korea coincided with the first time I lived away from home and the first real Big Boy job I had ever had. As though to compound and concrete up my developing, nascent sense of grown-upedness, I would move around the world on my own and begin working full-time all at once. The teaching, at least, I had done before. Moving to a different culture, I felt ready for, at least in-as-much as one can feel ready to abandon everything your brain accepts as a normal way of life. The weirdest part has probably been adjusting to living on my own.