Perhaps it’s time for the obligatory “end of the year” wrap-up post.
I liked 2012.
It started off in Shaun’s apartment after we left a Filipino party. The first few months of 2012 was a blur with two jobs. The worst event of the year happened early on, and that was the unexpected illness and death of Daryl’s dad and best friend, Chuck. It was a difficult time. Life is precious and delicate.
Following a terrible incident was a happy one. I was a bridesmaid in Alexa’s wedding. Although I’m not one to freak out about weddings, their rustic-themed wedding was gorgeous. My favorite part was getting ready in an isolated cabin in the forest. My second favorite part was coming back to the wedding, tipsy, with a pack of Yuengling we took back from the hall and spending time with Miguel, Nicole, and Daryl.
Things started looking up when I got accepted to join 40 adoptees from around the world to explore Korea for the 10-day InKAS summer camp. A few weeks prior to departing for the trip, I received a letter from the adoption agency with a letter and photo from my birth family.
In late May, I tagged along with my parents to Atlanta for a brief trip. I enjoyed spending time with them at the aquarium and eating fries at The Varsity. They dropped me off at the Atlanta airport where I flew over to Korea. The pilot happened to be a volunteer with InKAS. He gave me a handful of brownies.
The summer camp was exciting, but exhausting. I prefer traveling alone or with one other person, so being with over 40 other people was a bit much. I can’t complain though because the entire trip was free. I got to attend the Yeosu Expo, watch a Nanta performance, and stay in some very nice hotels and enjoy delicious meals. Perhaps the most memorable was staying in a pension in Damyang and a homestay in Gyeonggi-do.
I felt a little uneasy throughout the trip, anticipating my birth family meeting. When the moment came, it felt natural. I spent four days with them in Jeonju and I enjoyed every minute of it. Coming back to America was depressing beyond belief. I knew I would be back there in just a few months though.
The summer couldn’t go any slower as I anticipated the big move. I quit my job as a psychometrist and worked temporarily scoring essays.
I took a short cruise to the Bahamas with Daryl’s family. It was a trip of gluttony and gambling. I did enjoy the Jeep adventure though.
Daryl and I did a brief two-week road trip covering Asheville, the Smoky Mountains, Grandfather Mountain, Virginia, D.C., NYC, Philadelphia, and various places in New Jersey. We CouchSurfed and camped as usual, but also stayed with Beca, my brother, and my sister. It was nice to be able to see everyone before I left the country.. It was the first time my entire family was together since Faye’s wedding in 2009. I even saw some high school friends at a local pizza place we used to frequent.
I came back Jacksonville, purged the contents of my room, and packed my bags for Korea. I ate as much pizza as humanly possible and spent time with some wonderful people. Daryl’s mom kindly made a fest of Filipino food and welcomed my friends to her house for a farewell party. It really warmed my heart. Alexa and Tyler even came from Tallahassee to see me. I feel honored and miss my friends and their good hearts.
Then my journey to Korea started. It’s been a ride but I still feel like I’m on vacation here. I love teaching, my apartment, the city, and being close to my family. The people I met here are nice and adventurous, too, all from different backgrounds that somehow led them here.
I am discovering my Korean side more little by little. My wardrobe is bursting with Koreanness and I own a rice cooker. I prefer Korean food any day over Western food and I always make sure to bring gifts to my family and my office. At school dinners, my face blends in with all of the other red faces from the alcohol. I’m glad to finally not be the only one with this unfortunate gene.
I also get to travel on the weekends and visit my family any time I’d like. I went to some festivals like the Kimchi Festival, Food Festival, Lantern Festival, Film Festival, and International Community Day. I made kimchi and tteokbokki taught by ajummas, tried snowboarding, and permed my hair. My Korean language skills have been accumulating.
The first few months here were very busy and exciting. The season quickly changed to autumn, a fleeting season that I miss so much. Winter came quickly and I have been staying inside, having more time to reflect. My head is not clear lately, but I’m not exactly sure what it means to be clearheaded anymore.
It is difficult for me to be homesick. My parents and friends are extremely supportive and want me to be here as long as I’m happy.
I’ll be starting 2013 off in an unfamiliar place with a familiar person. Off to the Philippines on New Year’s Eve! Third foreign country of the year.