Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Half a World Away (Happy Blogiversary)

Happy First Blogiversary, friends.

It's been quite a year. I haven't posted as often as I would have liked, nor have I made much progress toward establishing what exactly this blog is, but having a space to write and share of myself has been refreshing, especially after so many years without. Even if I can't be sure who is reading or if there's even an audience who cares outside of my parents, it still gives me room to breathe, whether I'm at my most eloquent or my least coherent. A Blog of One's Own might not be quite what Virginia Woolf had in mind, but it does the trick.

Since I started writing here a year ago, a lot has changed -- in fact, had someone told me last November where I would be today, I would have assumed that this someone was crazy, or at the very least, that one of us had been drinking. Last week, I hinted at some big news, promising that today I would "post something Blogiversary-worthy and wear some fancy shoes." Well, I've slipped on my shiny, 4-inch heels, so here's my news.

Adam and I are moving to Korea.

In January, we will be making the 12-hour flight half a world away to begin a year in Seoul working for an English school for children. I will be teaching immersion classes ranging from preschool- and Kindergarten-aged children to fifth grade students, all based on the American elementary school model. While I'm in the classroom, Adam will be working primarily in research and development for the school's textbooks and curricula. My contract doesn't begin until a few weeks after Adam's in February, but the school has been amazing enough to work it so Adam and I can fly out together; I'll just have a couple extra weeks to get acclimated, playing homemaker and taking exploratory runs around the neighborhood in the cold, eyes wide and mind blown open.

Our certifications in TESOL, our quiet head start on paperwork -- before we even had interviews -- back in September, our lifelong loves of language and travel and adventure - everything has been leading up to this. To anyone feeling like we've been exceedingly quiet and unduly keeping secrets, please don't feel unimportant -- we simply didn't want to risk very public disappointment had plans fallen through (and Adam only just put in his notice at work today). The littlest hiccup could have blown this ship off its precise, delicate course; honestly, it still could. Between getting fingerprinted, applying for and awaiting results on FBI background checks (good news: we got them back Monday and neither of us has a record of arrest! Surprise!), collecting official transcripts and letters of recommendation, getting diplomas notarized and mailing documents across the country and back for various government apostilles... we're still diligently peeling back layers of red tape. If everything goes smoothly enough, we should receive our visas from the Korean consulate come Christmas. We won't know the exact date we leave until we've secured our visas; until then, we're learning a little Korean and busying ourselves with the gradual task of packing up the few belongings we'll keep from our beloved apartment then getting rid of the rest.

(One thing's for sure: preparing to move to the other side of the world challenges my notions of materialism and puts the details of daily life into perspective. As I get older, I'm growing more sentimental about collecting memories and becoming less attached to Things. Some Things have significant sentimental value - books I just can't part with or souvenirs of time and life that I love and know I won't really be able to find again - and those are the Things I will keep. Everything else can be replaced when I'm ready to settle into a sense of home that feels a little more permanent.)

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

All in all, I am excited. Scared, anxious, overwhelmed, and excited. I am absolutely heartbroken to be leaving Eliot behind for now, but Adam's brother and sister-in-law are generously welcoming him into their family while we're gone, and I know he'll be happy and well-loved -- that is, if he survives my sobbing, snot-covered cuddle-squeezes when I hug him goodbye. I will miss my furry baby terribly, just as I will dearly miss my family and friends. I will miss Seattle something fierce and everything about it that makes it home, but I am hopeful that after a while, we'll start to feel a little at home in Seoul, too. And I know we'll be returning to Seattle someday, and to our loved ones, furry or otherwise.

Ready or not, life is only going to get crazier from here on out. The holidays are upon us and our departure date will be here before I know it, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving (tomorrow already? How did that happen?) and my first Blogiversary: thank you, everyone. Thank you for reading, thank you for holding me accountable, for holding my hand, for letting me word-vomit all over your interwebs every so often -- thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll keep posting here as this adventure unfolds, and next year, I'll be blogging Gangnam Style.

So Happy Thanksgiving, friends, and Happy Blogiversary. Here's to throwing off the bowlines, sailing away from the safe harbor, and hoping you'll come along to help me anchor this unmoored life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Remember, Remember

A lot has happened over the last few weeks, though you wouldn't know it from all this radio silence. I can assure you that for all the stillness here, there has been a riot of noise in my head, not to mention on a grander scale: plans made and changed, then changed again, pumpkin cookies baked and eaten (and eaten and eaten - for breakfast, even, on lucky unhealthy days), a quiet but appropriately-absurd Halloween. There was the small thing of my birthday on (remember, remember) the fifth of November, but the real celebration came on its heels with the excitement and relief of the president's historic re-election. Dozens of decisions were finalized, with the snowy fields of paperwork to show for it. Adam and I toasted the anniversary of our trip to Belize with the last of the Belizean rum we smuggled back, complete with Mexican coke. I couldn't catch my breath for a month when a cold decided to make itself at home in my chest, then get comfortable enough to invite a sinus infection to the party - this made me a downright joy to be around for weeks while the singing required by my job became a cruelty (both for my voice and those poor, poor children). The colors that I coughed up rivaled those in the trees this time of year.

While my voice has returned and our president has thankfully done the same, I still can't catch my breath. Life is stumbling forward in running shoes tied a little too hastily as I try to keep pace. It's more than the usual first stirrings of holiday frenzy; in fact, any thoughts I've cast toward Thanksgiving or Christmas have been infrequent, and distracted at best. There is something bigger on my horizon than stuffing or sleigh bells (although don't get me wrong, stuffing is way too important to be ignored - it can't be ignored). Some of you already know or have an inkling, but until a few more formalities are taken care of, I can't officially announce it here just yet. But almost. We'll know for sure by the end of next week, I think. And then I'll shout it into the great wide interwebs with a mighty exhale and - hopefully - a rush of calm before the promised commotion in mind and matter.

While this horizon-lurker preoccupies my mind every minute of every day (and night), I need to remember to focus on the immediate, the Now - not only on the quickening footsteps of the future. Remember, remember to be present. Remember to stare at the rain and think, or stare without thinking - that's perfectly alright, too, and probably better for my mental health every once in a while. Notice the small signs of life despite the overwhelming movements of heavier cogs and be thankful for them: my breath in the air, brief clouds marking time with my pulse and offering proof that I've got plenty of heartbeats left in me when it doesn't necessarily feel like it. String lights in the trees at night, something that will always make the cold of winter feel a little more magical. The usual Americana-laced nostalgia around Christmastime that makes me sad, but keeps me mindful. Kisses on my cat's nose and feeling his comforting weight settling on my abdomen in the middle of the night. Listening to music that makes me feel infinite, especially when I'm feeling limited. Rarefied meals with family, chats with friends, coffee in the mornings with Adam, and quiet walks alone through fog-pillowed parks. These are just as important as what's coming, and just as worthy of memory and time.

Today, I remember that the boulders fill the eye, but the pebbles fill the path.

PS. Next Wednesday is my first Blogiversary! It's crazy to think how quickly a year has passed, and oh, how so much has changed. I'll be sure to post something Blogiversary-worthy and wear some fancy shoes.