When an Assa Misses Home
Sometimes I get tired.
That I am an Assa
But even an Assa
\ . /
Sometimes misses home
I am an Assa. My best friend is my bed and my worst enemy the ringing of my phone. I like the night when everything is quiet and still. I like the rain because it drowns out people’s voices. Despite what others say, I like Foothill for its slow, laid-back atmosphere. Conversing with others makes me tired. But sometimes. Just sometimes. Lying on my bed scrolling through Instagram, I realize that I miss Seoul, my home, both place and people.
I was always told that I was a cold person. I was never a big group person. All I needed was a couple of friends I could trust with everything. Beyond that, the world could spit fire, rain acid, go to hell, and I wouldn’t bat an eye. So the first time I missed Seoul at Berkeley, the surprise kicked in before the nostalgia. Nostalgia or surprise, regardless, neither lasted long. A gulp of 805 washed away both right down to where they could be cleansed by alcohol and burn away in stomach acid. I probably would have continued my 805 streak if it weren’t for the absence of good anju; 전 먹고싶다.
Even an Assa misses home.
When I realized this, something in me changed. I started changing patterns in my lifestyle slowly, but recognizably, one by one. I thought to myself in Korean more. I conversed using Korean more. I listened to more Korean music. I even enjoyed the fresh soju that I always thought was disgusting when downed without beer. It was probably at that point, when fresh soju started to taste good alone, that I looked to cure my nostalgia.
Source unknown, I remember reading a distinct two lines from somewhere. One day a young child meets an unknown elder deep in the forest. The elder stops the child and asks the child, “If you could stop time this second, what would you do?” The child answers with a smile unbefitting of his age, “I could finally take a rest.”
Just like how time never stops, life never stops. And life carries a burden with it that sometimes pushes us down to see only what is below us, the hard, dirty, dark ground. The ground is what allows us to stay afloat, but it is also what we are forever cursed to rely on to stand. Sometimes we need a moment to throw the burden off our shoulders and stare at the sky above us, gaze at the stars and moon we’ll never reach, and fling our hands into the air and scream so that maybe God can hear our faint pleas for money or fame, happiness or attention.
Stop for a second.
Start today by spending time just for yourself.
You’re just human anyways.
Spending time just for yourself isn’t easy. Many will realize that it’s rather hard. Some might decide to spend another few hours sleeping in. Others, go out to drink. The vast majority though, burdened by midterms, will push back thoughts of rest, thinking, ‘I’ll rest after midterms.’ which then becomes, ‘I’ll rest after finals’ in an unending loop of constant stress. Either way, building up the courage to stop, or start, is difficult. Personally, I find my courage in music. Music that resonates with me, amplifies my nostalgia, and forces me to stop whatever I’m doing and read the lyrics. My most recent recommendation would be Lee Moon Sae’s newest album, Between Us.
Somehow, writing this piece in the moment, I feel as if the subject’s become darker than it was ever supposed to be. Disorganized and chaotic. Regardless, I’ll stop here with the hope that someday there’ll be a day reserved for me too; when an assa can shout “Assa!” as an expression of joy and not sorrowful identity. That this piece can be read to God in my feeble voice, showing my weakness and confusion, demanding his attention and blessing. Perhaps that’ll cure me of this nostalgia.
1. Assa: short for Outsider in Korean, refers to someone who prefers being alone over socializing in a group