A heart divided

Have you ever felt this way?

Half of your heart in one place, half in another.

I didn’t have this problem until… now. I mean, when I was living in America, through my plane ride to Korea and my EPIK orientation, and up until my first week in the classroom, my heart was fully in America. After I started teaching here, I put my heart and soul 100% into my teaching, my students, my coworkers, my new life here. I think it’s the best way to make yourself happy, whatever your situation. If you’re going to transplant your heart, so to speak, do it right and do it completely.

And by that I don’t mean to forget the people, places, and things you love back home, or whatever you’re leaving behind – I just mean that you can’t really be happy if you’re living with your body in one place and your heart/mind in another.

So, I turned my full attention, my focus, and my love towards Korea because I want to have a lovely, love-filled year here, even though I know things aren’t/won’t be perfect.

But now…

The semester has come to an end. I’ve had to say goodbye (prematurely) to some of the sweetest, funniest, most wonderful kids I’ve ever met. Big changes and much stress loom in my future (next semester: new kids, new co-teachers, new curriculum, and the crazy flurry of lesson planning that comes with the start of a new semester – oh boy, it’ll be like starting from scratch again). And quite suddenly the wind seems to have been taken out of my sails. I’m working with a tiny breeze here.

And yesterday I started listening to Bastille’s “Bad Blood” album again for the first time since March. (Sorry, T-Swift, Bastille took that title first.) I was listening to it almost nonstop in the months leading up to my departure (fantastic album by the way), and so, in the way that music has of transporting one’s soul back to a place or time or even just an uncapturable feeling, I am now feeling a strong longing for home and family and friends.

Nostalgia possesses a dangerous and addicting kind of beauty. I feel I’m particularly susceptible to it, being a lifetime diary-keeper who stores up memories like a hoarder stores up newspapers and cats. It’s quite nice to pull up old memories, whether through photos, writing, music, or conversation, and feel all cozy and nostalgic about them and remind yourself of what a great time that was… but it’s so easy, from there, to slip into loving what has already come and gone too much and forgetting to love the now.

Yesterday was the first time since coming here that nostalgia reached out to me, drew me into its tantalizing depths with that almost-here-but-not-quite feeling – like the way you can see a bright object in a dark room out of the corner of your eye, but when you look straight at it, it disappears into the darkness.

The thing about that is, it can leave you chasing a tangibility that can never be there. It can also set you up for disappointment when you return to that place/time/situation/whatever and things are just not the same as they were in your idyllic nostalgic memory.

So, just a little more indulgence in these feelings, and then it’s time to rein that other half of my heart back in, bring myself back to the present, and prepare to find as much joy and love in the second half of my year as I did in the first.


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