Thursday, March 31, 2011

How DID I wind up in Asia?

Unlike Bugs Bunny who took a wrong turn at Albuquerque, my move to Asia was planned. And I didn’t dig through the earth to get here. But I dug through my soul and found myself again when I first landed in Seoul in December of 2009. 

In 2008, I’d lost my advertising job that I’d steadily held for a decade, due to the recession. It was a blessing in disguise though finding new work would prove near impossible. The job had been killing my desire to live and there were now too many knife marks in my back to count from all the cuntery going on there. The loss of this job was indeed the catalyst that started my life in a downward tumble but eventually, led to how I changed my life for the better. Then I would have traded places with just about anybody. But now, I wouldn’t trade a single thing.

After some time, I did manage to find a fantastically fun and rewarding job writing for a dining magazine in Miami. And I loved it there! Getting paid to eat and write about it! Unfortunately, the job was not full time, nor did it pay very well. But it gave me something to do. I also walked a friend’s giant dog for some spare cash. But mostly, I had to rely on unemployment checks to see me through. Staying afloat was harder than I thought.

And then, all hell broke loose. My live-in boyfriend who had taken a job up north to supposedly support us broke it off with me after he finally came home from being away for months. I’d had a sneaking suspicion he’d been running around but no solid proof.  The only thing I had to look forward to anymore was my trip to visit my brother in Seoul with my parents. It was all that kept me going. 

Just days before my trip, intense rains ripped through South Florida. This is nothing new but they were so fierce and heavy, many areas began to flood rapidly. And as I left a friend’s house to head back to my condo of broken relationships, I plunged into a wall of standing water, hidden by shadowy trees and a large dip in the road.  At first, I was just annoyed. Now I needed to get a tow truck on a night when every single one of them was likely already deployed pulling other drivers out of flooded areas. But as I sat there on my cell, telling my friend I’d be coming back up to her home and to please call for a tow, my car began to move. And the water began to rise. And I realized I needed to go. Now. Or I might not live. 

It truly seemed like forever, but it all happened in just an instant. I grabbed my purse and keys and pushed out the driver’s side door. The current ripped one shoe completely off my foot. I made a grab for it but it was useless. It was gone and if I didn’t move it, I would be too. I swam hard and fast until I could feel pavement under my feet again. And then I ran. And I didn’t look back. Until I looked out the window of my friend’s condo and saw my poor G6’s emergency lights fading in and out with the current.

I was in awe. I survived. But why? I was given a second chance to live my life. A life that until that moment, I had somehow stopped really participating in. Bags packed and ready to go at Miami International, as I slid my passport across the desk to the ticket agent, I knew I’d have plenty of time to figure out why.  All I knew at that time was that this trip would change my life. But I never could have anticipated what came next.

My trip to Seoul was my first ever to Asia. And as I arrived, I couldn’t help but smile. I was thousands and thousands of miles away from my mess of a life. And for 2 weeks, I didn’t have to figure it out. I could just enjoy spending time with my family. During those 2 weeks, I fell head over heels in love with Seoul. For the first time in my whole life, I felt like I actually fit in somewhere. Somewhere that was as unusual and strange as I was. If we’d all decided to do separate activities and meet for dinner later, I would have felt completely comfortable navigating the city on my own. Within days of our stay, I knew how I would change my life. I would move to Seoul. And I would use my expertise of the English language to teach ESL, a lucrative career in these parts. 

In February of 2010, I moved to Seoul.  It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of some wonderful friends and my parents who moved me right out of the Miami condo I shared with a man who, upon my return, had revealed himself to be a cheater, one who donned wigs and wore my shoes and make-up when I apparently was not around, and right into my parents’ home. Though I am right where I need to be in my life now, I do miss how much fun my parents and I had before I moved away.  I hated to leave them and my friends behind but I had to move forward with my life. I had to start living again.


  1. I love love love your story jen... in a way it is very much like my own... I never felt like i belonged anywhere, never truley at peace not in fort lauderdale with my long time friends or in orlando with my great job, beautiful house and ex fiance wo i though was my world.. Every year i went to England and just felt at ease i thought it was due to it being christmas time and not having to work and just generally being away from it all, but the last trip i took there in August 2010.. i felt somtthing i dont think i have ever felt.. I felt for the first time "at peace" and wht a beautiful feeling it was... I walked around the ciy on my own and felt at home , i felt that sence of belonging i had been searching for , for years without even having to try and with little money in my pocket.. I felt the warmth of old friends, old stomping grounds, family, and a true home.. I am so glad you found it too.. As scary as it is in yor 30's to think you have to start over, to be alone and try again... its even scarier to stay in a life that you dont truly belong in.. I am glad you found your peace and glad you and I are awlays friends.. xoxox

  2. Awww, love you tons Hayley! So happy you feel at home in England. That means we will be less far apart! And truer words were never spoken when you said "it's even scarier to stay in a life that you don't truly belong in." xoxoxo