“How are you feeling?” is the essential question I have been asked countless times today. Each time I pause and wait, uncertain how to answer. I look at the person’s face or the letters in the text, thinking that I am expected to feel nervous, excited, and even anxious, but instead I respond “I feel okay. It just doesn’t feel real.” So I write this blog in hopes to process my feelings and to better answered that awaited question.
Growing up my childhood was spent absorbed in TV. I loved watching Disney and ABC family. I learned alongside the characters through their experiences and challenges. One of my favorite characters was Corey from Boy Meets World. I connected with his genuineness, optimism, and love of meddling. But then again who didn’t love Corey? He was an everyday guy who demonstrated a kind heart and a strong sense of self.
Being home for the past few weeks, feeling bored and lazy I re-watched many of the classic episodes, finding myself still entertained and connected to Corey. As I re-watched the episodes though, I thought about the title of the show and how Corey was learning what it meant to be a man and an adult through just living and interacting with his family, friends, and mentors. I think this idea resonated with me because I am about to be meeting a new world at a time when I am still emerging into adulthood and coming to understand my identity all without the familiarity of my family and friends. Yet all this feels so distant and unreal like I am just watching another episode on TV.
Nevertheless, saying my final goodbyes to my parents was the first moment that reality began to settle in. It was in the moment when my dad grabbed me to hug me before my mom started crying and as my mom repeated “I loved you” in addition to the incessant reminders of “please take care of yourself and remember to use the cleanx wipes.” It was weird to see my parents so emotional. My mom didn’t cry when we said our goodbyes at college, rather she was excited for me and she is still excited for me, but this feels different. I think this goodbye was unique because my parents had to say goodbye to me as a boy. Leaving for Korea signifies my departure from a world they have created for me and supported me in. Now I am about to enter an uncharted space that I am responsible to navigate on my own. Just think the three most important things I packed are 5 crowns, catch-phrase, and cards (okay my laptop and kindle are on the top priority list too). The three most important things my mom had me pack were Benadryl, diarrhea medicine, and anti-diarrhea medicine. You can tell we have different priorities.
But none of this explains why I am left uncertain of my own feelings. I know I am ready to begin this journey and I know I will be nervous at points and will struggle at times (learning the language may be the death of me). I moved through the Orlando airport comfortably, arrived in LA to then wait in lines and check. I was in a good grove. I felt like I had control over my situation. I was acting like an adult. Nevertheless, it was at security when I realized I was still in the limbo stages of adulthood. The line I had picked was of course the longest. There were a group of teenagers traveling with their parents holding up the line. They had dropped their carry-ons on the trays and never pushed in their luggage to be scanned by the x-ray machines. Everyone was just waiting and watching. I was still a few people behind from the front, but I left my stuff and began pushing in the luggage forward. The security guard looked at me and pointed, asking “Is this your stuff.” I shook my head. “Nah, but I figured I’ll help.” “Thanks.” He said. Immediately the people behind me joined in and the line began to gain momentum. I was feeling good. I acted and refused to just be an observer in the situation.
I finished up the security check and now had one goal in mind: get food. My flight from Orlando didn’t serve dinner and I only had a smoothie at the airport so I was ready to eat. So I quickly gathered my belongings and move towards the food court. Shortly after a nice couple who was standing behind me in the security line, called out “Sir.” Grabbing my attention. “Did you leave your bag at the security checkpoint?” This was my first oh shit moment of my trip and I am sure it won’t be my last. Immediately, I ran back to the check-point to retrieve my bag. I took a sigh of relief that it was still there imaging that I hadn’t even arrived in Korea and I already lost my luggage. I regained my calmness and took a second to check that I had everything and reprimand myself for careless stupidity. I stopped and smiled. It was these moments of childish forgetfulness and being a space cadet that reminded me that I needed this adventure. Its time for me to be on my own and look after myself. A friend of mine sent me a quote from a poem called “The Balcony” by Octavio Paz: “Beyond myself, somewhere, I wait for my arrival.”