The Decade After

Location: Seoul, South Korea.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the main drag in Itaewon District is a wreck. The carpet of cigarette butts has a stench all its own. Everyone in the world came here to party last night—I don’t know when last call was, but these folks haven’t heard it yet. Not the guy stumbling into a taxi with foaming beer cans, not the guy yelling hey baby, hey now, come on baby. Workers are knotting trash bags and deflating eight-foot blow-up soju bottles. Groups of girls are waiting for the one girl who is too drunk to walk. I’m headed to Starbucks. It’s the morning after.

If I truly hated this kind of thing, I would have done more research before I left the States. Itaewon felt a little “Tenderloin”; turns out it’s a little more like “Bourbon Street.” Some ten-dollar hostels are for partyers. Happy for me, a vacationing Pilipino family of five joined me in my room. Only luck brought them to me, and put the shit-faced Brazilian exchange student who peed on his roommate (a Japanese tourist) down the hall. Or karma. But that thought leads to bad things. Better stick to counting my blessings.

I’m here to say goodbye to my twenties, actually. I figured that out on the third day. I wrote about it for a few hours, then I went to an art museum and cried. I cried the way you’re supposed to when you’ve known someone for ten years: their hopes, their questions, their delusions. Their phenomenal beauty. I cried the way you cannot cry when you have a job, two volunteer gigs, an evening class at the community college, a running habit, and a lover whose face you see in the morning. I went halfway around the world to cry.

What I Did Today:


7 thoughts on “The Decade After

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