“After you start teaching in Korea,” my mother asked, “you’ll keep writing, won’t you?”
Two days ago she told me that I when I was seven I dressed up in traditional Korean attire for a school play focusing on various cultures throughout the world. (This was taking place in the Philippines, so obviously they already had an abundance of Filipino girls.) So I rummaged around our photo albums, and I found the photographs.
(11/06/05: I removed the pictures from this site. But trust me, I was quite fetching in my costume.)
I quickly observed that seven-year-old “Pia” and her 24-year-old counterpart look identical. Really, there’s only a two-inch difference.
Now, if this was a straight-to-DVD movie, these pictures would foreshadow my trip to South Korea as an adult. I studied literature in college, so naturally I look out for these sorts of things. They also made me recall last year’s trip to Burlingame.
I had driven to the tourist town to visit one of my former roommates. The two of us, while total opposites career-wise, were the epitome of the quarterlife crisis. At the time I was unsatisfied as an assistant editor in a boring little hick hole in northern Nevada, and S was growing wildly successful with her job but didn’t think it was what she wanted to do. On a lark we decided to visit a local fortune teller, who held shop in a furniture store owned by her nephew.
Surrounded by Mediterranean-inspired chairs and tables, she felt my hand gingerly, her heavily-lined eyes searching mine. Since I typically don’t believe in psychics and astrology, I was just bummed that I’d spent forty dollars on a palm reading that didn’t involve a crystal ball, incense or Satanic chanting in the background.
After briefly touching on my love life–and lack of one–she said, “Next year you will cross a body of water.”
“You mean . . . Tahoe?” I asked, slightly disgusted at how lackluster the upcoming months appeared.
“You will fly over a body of water,” she insisted, dismissing me with a wave of her pointy-nailed hand.
As we left, S and I discussed our readings. Mine had been rather brief and boring, so all we could touch was my supposed flight over water. “Maybe you’ll go back to England,” she said, recalling my internship in London years ago.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I won’t be able to afford a European vacation for at least ten years.”
“I don’t care how poor I am–you couldn’t pay me to go back.”
In spite of my overall disappointment, however, I felt a glimmer of optimism. I’d always wanted a job that involved traveling and immersing myself within different cultures, and as fabricated as that vision was, my wanderlust had blossomed once more. My short-lived career in journalism was dying, but I still clung to that one ideal, which would prove to define me in every period of my life–past, present and future.