So I’ve kind of been keeping this a secret, but I’m actually in America right now, spending time with family. (Shh, don’t tell anyone.) Since this does happen to be my third visit to the US in the last year, I thought I would tag along with my mom on a random business trip this time and see a new part of the country for a change. So right now, I’m writing from the dining room of a rather nice hotel suite in Atlanta, Georgia.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I’m writing from the middle of a cloud. I’m on the 66th floor of the hotel, and the weather this week in Atlanta is rainy and foggy––so foggy that from this height, absolutely nothing is visible out the window. It’s just a blank white wash emanating light.
It’s an interesting experience, being cloistered inside mist. That, however, is not the main reason I feel like I’ve entered into a different world down here.
Life of Luxury
Hanging out with lawyers, being driven around by drivers, being treated to fancy, expensive meals, and being given free room service is not part of my normal day-to-day. I have to say that I’ve been finding it all kind of fascinating. Last night, I had dinner with four lawyers (one of whom was my mom) who discussed things that I am usually barely conscious of. I was happy to just listen as they talked about everything from the trending legal issues to the current southern-with-a-twist food scene in Atlanta to riding 50-foot waves to Antartica, photographing jaguars, and getting altitude sickness hiking Machu Picchu.
I almost wanted to take notes so I could use all this material for future novels. (In the end, I settled for mental notes.)
Being back in America is culture shocking enough. What with all the hand shaking, eye contact, and small talk that I’m expected to reciprocate, it always takes a minute to readjust. But this has been a whole new level. It hasn’t just been enjoying luxuries, like finding an extremely soft bathrobe waiting for me after my shower and slipping it on (which made me feel like I was in a movie) or eating amazing food I’ve never even heard of before, but I’ve encountered new ways of thinking about the world.
It has given me fresh perspective on who I am and where I fit. And I’ve realized, my view of life is quite simple.
The Simple Life
There are so many things I don’t normally think about. Like what luxury car model would flip for a really great price or what wine would go perfectly with this meal. I’m a simple girl who has never aspired to live in luxury. I’m also a girl who hasn’t achieved much recognition or success by worldly standards, and who doesn’t seem to be on any path to such success.
But I am someone who knows who she is and is happy with the path that she is on. That’s what I’ve realized.
I suppose I could feel intimidated or out of place at these meals, telling a bunch of lawyers that I teach after-school English to kids out in the countryside of South Korea, but for some reason, I don’t. I haven’t felt ashamed of the simple life I live and how it may appear, because, well, I guess life is more to me than status and luxury and the approval of others. My identity isn’t found in those things. And though outwardly, the type of ambitions I harbor may not make sense to many, I suspect that they resonate with people somewhere deep down. I am on the path I feel I was created to be on. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
Well, I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s what I want. Being here has made that clearer to me.
I’ll accept and enjoy the amazing food and soft bathrobes and stimulating conversation, don’t get me wrong. (And perhaps I will use some of this material in future novels.) But I’ll be just as happy to return to sleeping on the floor in my room in Korea, to teaching kids with whom it is sometimes a struggle to communicate, and making a salary that most of my high school classmates would probably laugh at.
I love my simple life of teaching, praying, writing, and music-making. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.