The sun has set the last time for me over the skies of Ohio and Kentucky. Last night, celebrating at Connor and Georgia’s wedding, I looked over the treeline at a last Kentucky sunset thinking it would be my last until (at least) Christmas. And then, some 2000s-era line dance blared from the reception hall- barn to ensure I didn’t get too romantic about the moment.
It daunts me to leave because, while the good is unknown, what I am leaving behind is known.
I know I will miss two weddings in which I was supposed to be a groomsmen.
I know I will miss countless outings to MiCasita or Red State barbecue, services at Georgetown Baptist, late nights getting half priced Sonic milkshakes (hold up–why do so many of these things involve food!) and talking with friends about those things which are inane and important–and humorous, and sad.
I’ll miss talking about silly excuses I’ve heard from students for poor test grades (My favorite: “You didn’t tell us we would have to KNOW what we read!”) as well as hopes for the future, faith in what is, what was, and what is to come.
But there is much more than that awaiting: though I am not sure what precisely. Sure, I have my typical fears. For one, I barely know the alphabet (Hanguel) and a few “survival phrases”. When I studied abroad in Brazil, I learned by an incredible amount of error. (The poor açougueiro who cut my beef at the deli. I know I messed up my order with him a half dozen times before I got it right!).
In South Korea, I know there will be people, other ETAs (English teaching assistants) much more skilled with languages than me. It will be an occasion to grow, slay my pride, and to accept as much help as those around me are willing to give.
For another fear, my palette is dreadfully American. Back that up, I don’t like most American foods. I’m not chicken-nuggets-fries-and-packaged-foods-only bad–but I’m barely better. Worst is, I have the worst poker face known to humanity. Believe me, I have eaten things out of politeness many times: but I never fool anyone.
But, new friends, new foods, and excitement in mastering something new– teaching English to those who do not speak it as a native language– all await.
If what I leave behind is certain, and what I am going to is not it is natural this feeling springs out of a mix of anticipation and fear called “a healthy travel anxiety”.
Given that I will be somewhere inside Los Angeles airport tonight, I have seen my last Western sunset for quite some time. And, when I arrive, I will see the sun rise on Sunday in Seoul, South Korea, on July 12th– provided it isn’t too rainy.
The known sun sets in the west. The unknown sun rises in the east.
My Fulbright journey has begun.