"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flickers and Embers

Now Playing: Begin Again by Taylor Swift (and you don't know how nice that is, but I do)

I'm only here for a few more days and I know I will leave Korea with mixed feelings. I know I will not miss the cramped spaces or the fish explosion in the microwave or the inedible food at the cafeteria or the way the sink was clogged with ramen and squid and overflowed over the long weekend. But I know I will miss every day being an adventure, every day being fresh opportunities to communicate with a thousand cultures in a thousand tongues. I will miss calling somewhere other than Perth 'home', I'll miss the swirling dance of snow on my birthday, I will miss all the sights and smells that are all at once bizarrely foreign and strangely comforting.

And then there are the people. My heart breaks when I think of all of the people I must leave behind. In Perth I never really found my crowd, people who loved me so effortlessly and unconditionally, people who I could really be myself around. I have barely known these people for six weeks and they are my dearest friends. I've never known such exquisite sincerity or generosity. I've never been forgiven for being myself.

And, of course, there are new butterfly feelings I will be leaving behind. I'll never know how I really feel, or how anyone really feels, but that's okay. I have only a few days to let as much of it sink in - the way your ears go red when you see me, the soft curl of your thick dark eyelashes, your more or less permanent sleepy confusion, the way you never say no to chocolate, your sweet, shy generosity, your thousand beautiful smiles. And although this isn't the first story with a bittersweet ending for me, this is the first time I've had these beautiful butterfly feelings without the inevitable crash and burn of the toxic mix of feelings and hormones and being young and reckless. The first person I will remember with genuine affection without the hate and jealousy of could bes and should bes. There's something really innocent about that, how we will never be more than a boy and a girl with a few smiles and a few trinkets between us.

But I think what I will miss most of all were the little flickers of genuine happiness here. I haven't felt happy in a long time and so it's a slightly strange feeling for me, to feel so light and giddy and genuinely, euphorically happy, even if these moments are shortlived and plagued with fatigue or anger or depression. It's only here that I'm starting to feel these flickers again, these tiny sparks of a flame I thought I had long lost, in this world where things are simpler, where people are sweeter, where problems are erased with each fresh snowdrift. When I come back it will be a new school, new people, a new life, but it's still the place of old haunts and old flames. Here I began again. I hope I can continue that in a place where I am haunted by ghosts and have one too many skeletons in my closet.

But for now I will enjoy the final few flickers of happiness here, and hope they are the sparks for an eternal fire to keep me good and safe. If I can just leave here with a few embers, I won't let the fire die.

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