Tonight, i walked from Seoul Station to my hill barefoot in the pouring rain. It was the greatest walk of my life. For the first time since arriving here, i felt one with the city and yet comfortably alone, with only my thoughts and my music and the rain washing over my feet. There’s something about cities: no matter where in the world you might be, a city has this way of being welcoming and impenetrable at once, and you have to meet it head-on at its most vulnerable moments—when there are very few people on the streets masking its true qualities—to break open its shell.
That’s what i missed when i left New York. I missed making love to the city, taking long walks in the rain and at night, ignoring everything around me but the ground below my feet and the vague pulsation of life continuing in my temporary absence. I loved everything about New York: the people, the food, the culture, the beat it moved to. There’s nothing quite like the no bullshit attitude that New York breeds and takes pride in.
I hate most things about Seoul, especially the people, but as long as i can take barefoot, solitary walks in the rain, returning home to my quiet hill of friendly people, i think i’ll be okay. Navigating the city isn’t a concern; i just need to learn how to navigate the people.
There’s something about late night heart-to-heart’s in New York. The hustle and bustle of everyday life in the city makes you yearn so much for human connection that even sustained eye contact becomes something to be cherished, and soul-satisfying conversations crawl their way into secret repositories, like this one.
While the city was celebrating 420, my friend and i sat in bed, Guinness draughts in hand. We shared our individual pasts, reminisced over our high school years, and revealed our hopes and dreams. Maybe it was the Guinness talking, but maybe it was also our hearts connecting.
For the first time in a long time, i had what i call a “committed conversation.” We each had the other’s undivided attention for once, undistracted by the city’s beauties and failings. The tension of NYC in daylight fell away as we drank, leaned back, and indulged in the silence of my room and the authority—the sweet audibility—of our voices.
Last night replenished my soul, and i’m finally unafraid to plow through the three weeks i have left here.
Anyone who’s lived for a significant period of time in NYC has a mouse story. I have three, but let me tell you about my most recent (and triumphant!) encounter:
I was woken up at 2am by rustling noises, covered in sweat (probably from the Nyquil i took before bed). Immediately, i thought it was the mouse that i’d been hearing at nights, so i braced myself, stood on my bed, stepped onto the top of my drawers (to avoid stepping on the floor and getting bitten by the mouse in case it scurried across it) and turned my lamp on. Then i sat back on the bed and kept my eyes peeled. After a few moments, i saw it: it was in the garbage bag hanging from my radiator. It came up to the top of the garbage for a split second and plunged back down. My heart skipped a beat and i started sweating even more, so i hastily put my hair up. But honestly, i was so scared that i’d forgotten if the mouse was still in the bag or if it had leapt out and gone into my tote bag, which was hanging in front of the garbage bag, from the same hook on the radiator. And when i realized the possibility of it being somewhere other than the garbage bag, i leapt into the corner chair and just stood there helplessly for about a minute. Then i thought, “This is ridiculous,” so i sat back on the bed, but as far away as possible from the radiator. And then i noticed a piece of easter grass on the bed where my back would be, and i started having a panic attack, cos i thought maybe the mouse trailed it up there from the floor and it had actually been in my bed and crawling all over me while i was passed out from the Nyquil and maybe that was the real reason i woke up and maybe the struggle with the mouse was what had made me sweat! I knew it was possible because if that mouse could climb into my garbage bag, it could have climbed ANYWHERE. That meant any surface or object in my room could have been contaminated! Then i shook off these bad thoughts and tried to focus on the situation at hand. I tried to think back to when i saw the mouse and came to a pretty firm conclusion that it was still in the garbage bag. I had several options:
I was feeling down tonight, still suffering from this and grey weather, so on the way back from a 10pm Trader Joe’s run, i had a cigarette in front of my building, holding a bag of strawberries that i hoped would cheer me up.
I didn’t expect the scenery above: the sky was a dark indigo with a tinge of green, and the grey clouds wrapped the nearly full moon—a perfectly white moon, just the way i like it. As the smoke from my mouth tangled with the air, fading into the clouds, the street lamps soaked the white-bloomed tree in amber, and i was happy for a moment.
Maybe a full moon will be waiting for me tomorrow night.