Meeting Lau

It’s not just me. It’s been confirmed now from two different sources (and two people is obviously enough to meet the demands of any scientific study) that this is a place of clicks.

What was on my list of not to do before I uprooted myself from my Sheffield life?

I don’t want to end up in a Korean backwater with no-one to talk to.

Well…..yes.

For three months here I spun myself round on an anxiety wheel.  At first the simplicity of my new life was bliss after the upheaval of a stressful move but then it was fuck, who am I going to talk to??? After an hour in this place, it was clear that people did not speak English apart from coffee language, “Americano? Iced? Hot? Thankyou.” My eyes began to prowl the streets for a pair of white legs. Not that I’m only interested in befriending white legs but it’s just they’re easier to spot. Every now and then I’d be duped into thinking a white face was coming my way only to find it was a Korean who had befriended whitening cream.

I panicked and not for the first time I learned that anxiety is a terrible companion to be introduced to new people with. He escorts you, tall, dark and handsome in a tuxedo but when you’re meeting in the back room of a makgeolli place, he stands out even more than a bunch of white teachers. As you try to make witty and casual conversation he butts in, his cigar smoke blowing in your face causing you hesitation and making others around you uncomfortable and when he invites along his friend isolation, man, you’re in big trouble. Isolation is a keen figure, he’s overly keen, with all the energy of a puppy. A lean, spritely guy on amphetamines. It is with desperation that he wants you to make friends, to feel accepted, to ease into a new life and impatiently he hurtles you into a new situation. Then when the new “friends” disappear you feel complete rejection and you cling on more tightly to the arms of your escorts.

I am always impatient but time and time again, things turn out ok. After literally telling myself, slow down, it’s ok, just enjoy this quiet time, I began to meet some great people and now that I’ve lost my escorts and I can enjoy meeting the different bunch of characters that live here. I was told on more than one occasion,

You’re going to meet some strange people here.

Yup, I have which has only served to pump up the feelings of isolation and anxiety but now that I’ve lost those two imbeciles I can appreciate more the qualities in people which  make us different and human but I’m still circling around the group mentality. I can completely understand why people nestle in their groups and probably I’m about to nestle too but is it clicks? Isn’t it that just naturally people gravitate towards certain people and people will bond over certain qualities and here groups stand out as distinct groups because we teachers cannot blend into our Korean environment? I do think that at bloody Christmas someone could have stepped up on our Facebook page and said hey, we’re having a party ….but….no. What? Me do it and put myself in the limelight position of rejection, HELL NO!

No-one wants to be alone and those escorts ensure that when you find your group you hold on fast to them but the trouble is this behaviour spreads like a virus. I’m doing it to. There is someone here who I just want to distance myself from. They are good, kind and generous and just trying hard to make friends but too dam hard. A morning with her can leave me drained and I still think I don’t need to feel like this, especially not here where things are hard enough but then I’m just like everyone else so I will try but really, engaging in friendship with a forceful manner backfires. The energy you put out comes back with a splat gun from Bugsy Malone.  She might as well be wearing anti-people repellent or become the fly that lands on your armed to get squatted  and all because she is friends with the dark tall handsome one and the speedy amphetamine guy……sigh……those guys.

Anyways, SHIT,  I was supposed to be telling you about Lau….hang on, I’ll do that next time.

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