Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.

Sunday afternoon, in my trip to the yagu jang (baseball park), I happened to get a taxi driver who spoke some English. He was 54 Korean years old, and I’m 54 in American, which means he’s actually a year younger than I. He had studied English 35 years ago in high school, matching my history with French, and his English was about as good as my French, which is to say, he remembered un peu.

Anyway, we talked a bit, as best we could, and, intuiting that I teach English, he said,

"I never saw a foreign teacher so old."

Emotions jumbled, mumbled, and tumbled through my head: “How dare he?... It’s kind of funny that he has zero tact... I am really old… Hey, good for me, trying something new at my age!... Wait a minute; Ray at our school is older!... Yeah, but he doesn’t look it… Bite me, buddy!

I was thinking about it yesterday, and I turned on my webcam and saw myself. My face is just so old, on the forehead, under the eyes, hell, around the face. And neck. And my feet don’t look that great, either.

I think my face shows years of not smiling enough, of not playing enough, of not risking enough . And it may never look better.

But I’m better inside. I think I began growing younger in Korea. Or maybe it was when I committed to coming here. Or maybe even when I first considered it. I only know I (usually) look forward to what I’m going to do each day, and that ‘most everything rolls off my back as it never has before.

I’d take a webcam picture of me looking happy, but smiling still hurts. But I’m working on it.


Dharma said...

Sounds like the first time I got a cup of coffee for 10 cents. I asked the nice lady at Hardy's, and she said she gave me the senior citizen discount. I wasn't even 50 yet. I was pissed for days. Every year when the dreaded school pics arrive, I don't even recognize that person. I'm young, skinny and hot. Who is this person who's taken over my body? Love to you, and I'll get your GPS Saturday and go straight to the mailbox place and send it to you. Sounds like you're getting around pretty good. Do you still want me to get it?

Stephen J said...

Oh, yes, please. So far I've ended up where I needed to go, but it may take me five times as long as it would if I knew where I was going. Also, I may very well be moving shortly to an apartment that's really far off the beaten path-- I may need help finding it, especially at night (which it will usually be when I try to do that.)

A GPS would be a lifesaver.

Thank you, my friend.