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The dusk of summer

I am officially unemployed and will be so for another two weeks. It feels good, especially after turning off my alarm. It will be much better to be awakened by the sun than the shrill beeps of an alarm clock. I now have two goals in mind: packing and preparing for Korea and enjoying my last days in the United States.

This upcoming week will include more of the latter than the former as my younger brother is visiting. We saw Wicked last night, and this week should be much be more interesting than his visit last year when I had just started my job. Also on the docket for this week are an encore viewing of The Dark Knight, some summer league Ultimate frisbee, and a trip to Chicago.

It’s nice that my brother is able to visit before I leave. I really didn’t want to have to fly home before dashing off to Korea. Other than the obvious logistical complications, the definition of “home” has become rather amorphous over the past couple years — and this journey won’t help clarify the point at all.

For the first two years of college, I refused to acknowledge East Lansing as “home.” I only flew home twice a year, and with each trip, what was supposed to be home felt more and more foreign as new buildings were erected and familiar faces left. I recognized that, to me, “home” had more to do with people than places. I’ve built enough relationships in the past five years here in East Lansing to consider it home — and it feels that way as I’m preparing to move on. I think Holden Caulfield got it right about the way I want to leave one place for another:

What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.

As I packed my desk and left work on Friday, I felt content, even missing the routine I hated so much a bit. Now with my attention fully focused on moving to Korea, I can feel the time and summer starting to fade away. I already appreciate things around me here — the buildings, the trees, the people — as possibly the last time I’ll see them as they are in East Lansing, my home for the past few years.

In cleaning up and packing my things, I have a general feeling of homelessness. I’m not quite here or there; I’m just in between places. I’m ready to move to Korea to continue this life adventure, but how soon will I be able to make a home for myself among the unfamiliar faces, language and places? Is a traveler, a drifting nomad with adaptability as his greatest tool, always at home or always homeless?

Eleven days, and we’ll begin to find out.

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Looking beyond the desk

Everything on my desk — save for the collages, photos and toys I brought to decorate my desk and keep me human — annoys me. I sit in front of a two-piece, L-shaped desk cluttered with remnants of projects that hardly tickle my fancy: price sheets, printouts, books and various data CDs. Phone lists, sticky notes and holiday notices adorn the edges of my LCD monitor as the Mac Pro tower looms to its right.

I’m ready to flip this desk — and all its contents — over and onto the the floor. I’m ready for something new, something different, something challenging. I’m ready to put in my two weeks’ notice and move.

I know this journey into South Korea isn’t always going to be a cakewalk. I know there are going to be days I’ll be stuck at my school, behind a desk with nothing to do for hours. I’m sure the novelty of saying I live in Korea will wear off within the first couple months, but the fact that will make it all better will be knowing I’m more than 6,000 miles away from everything to which I’ve grown accustomed and pushing myself to do what I want.

The other night, I was talking with my mom about the details of my departure (and all the other nitty-gritty details about which moms tend to worry) when the conversation detoured into the future. I told her I had no real idea what was next on my life’s docket after my year-long contract expires in Korea, but those concerns come after things such as making sure I can find my Korean apartment at the end of each day. In the end, she told me to make sure I wasn’t gone for too long and that I’d come home every now and again — which shouldn’t be a problem based on past experience. I’ll always need some time refresh and collect myself.

In the meantime, I’ll find out in the next year whether dinking around the world really suits me. In the end, it might not, but right now it’s fun to dream, and I’m welcome to change.

Change that comes in 30 days.

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