After an amazing dinner with a friend at a restaurant that will probably be my new natural habitat (Really? An affordable avocado joint? Can you blame me?), I woke up and everything just said “no”.
No, I don’t think this is for me. I retreated to my lonely box across the world and I live on 12 different messages with people I may never be able to see again face to face. The only legitimate thrill I feel of each day. I’ve given up reaching out to those around me because getting left on read is a different kind of suck, especially when your secret prayer is to just eat pizza on your couch and have a meaningful conversation with another soul.
“But why do you always focus on the negative, Jessica?”, my mother yells into the phone. First of all, it’s Jess. I hate Jessica, and people who call me Jessica are accidentally stepping onto landmines. I’m being honest, not negative. I am isolated, and I am in a box. I do no one any favors by posting quirky whatsits in some faraway land for people in yoga pants in cul de sacs to consume.
There is a dark side to cute cafes and cheap facials. I crawl into my tiny little lonely box, with the gratefulness that at least God gave me a dog as a companion (because I don’t think I’d have made it this far in life otherwise). So, good news. I have a petite friend with expressive eyebrows. He’s a strange one but he loves me and I love him back, and that’s probably the greatest achievement I’ve faced here, since being proud of promotions have been officially deemed as being “entitled”.
So I wake up and it’s Friday. I actually quite like the physical aspects of my job, other than the fact that I’ll always be on the outside looking in. But I woke up this morning and something just said “No”. I don’t think I’m strong enough for the isolation. I’m just a human. And I can only live in my head for so long. Why did I come here? Why did I do this? Why did I throw away all the American milestones that everybody likes to scoff at these days that I’m not against?
I sat on a couch the other day blasted, and I wanted to disappear. It was like paint drying. There were a couple of people around me and the best way to describe it is “stale Cheetos on dirty linoleum”. The people were so self-important, and I was supposed to think they were artistic and visionaries of life in Pandemic World. But I sat on the couch virtually by myself, metaphorically watching paint dry, and I just knew this isn’t for me.
I stumbled home and almost fell and probably almost got hit by a car. Who remembers? There was not much concern. Don’t worry, you can’t pay me to be oogle at stale Cheetos with central nervous systems any longer. I hate drinking, especially here, and I hate how when I do it, I do it because of the lure that there will be human connection. Just a meaningful soul bonding conversation is all I ask for, God. I do not wish for romance, and I am enough of a realist that all the potential friends are probably leaving soon anyway. I think I was mistaken all along. I feel like an alien. I just want to spend nights in the lonely box wearing flannel. In my fantasy life, another human wants to sit there and get weird and watch a series or (please let this little dream come true) a documentary. Hunter may not understand what he sees but he is a good sport so he’ll do just fine.
I don’t really feel like I exist anymore, and I just show up to my job that I prayed for (the one I was called “entitled” for being proud of) and you know what? This thing happened yesterday. A miracle, if you will. I often have thoughts like “Am I a good enough teacher?” or “Will I ever get it right?”
And so yesterday was some kind of spring picnic, or it had good intentions to be despite Covid woo, but there were these giant bags for my co-teacher and I. It turns out that two of the mothers made these intricate little bento boxes, the biggest set I’ve ever seen and wrote a heartfelt post-it.
I can’t believe there are people in this world who are so kind and thoughtful, and it’s so strange how the biggest gestures of love come from near strangers. An old boyfriend didn’t think I was good enough for Shake Shack for being happy over a new job, but these women spent hours to show how proud they are to have us as teachers. One of my only redeeming qualities is that I genuinely love the children.
Feeding someone is such a loving thing to do: the time to get the ingredients, sort them out, make each little recipe, and add the little details with great precision to make it so beautiful, like a chicken head, a snail, or a giant rose. Human beings sat in their kitchen and did this for us, and I will be forever grateful.
Sometimes I worry that maybe I’m not a memorable teacher or that I’m not doing it right because I’m just kind of flubbing about, but there’s a wholesome feeling that shakes you to your core when little children value you so much and talk of you so highly that their mothers make you intricate feasts attached with little thoughtful post-its (I didn’t show the post-it as I wanted to keep the people anonymous in that regard).
I hired a Life Coach to try and be a better person and use my time in Korea to be who I really want to be to live the dream life I think everyone around me lives that I missed out on. And this little lunch really gives me hope. Thank you.
Like This? Pin It!