Single serving friends. If you’ve ever seen Fight Club, you’ll get the reference. The Narrator is an office drone in an insurance company who travels relentlessly to assess whether automobile defects are ‘serious’ enough to issue a recall. On the plane, he’ll meet people and enjoy their company and conversation for the duration of the flight, then part ways and never see them again. Like a single serving packet of coffee, or a single use shampoo at a cheap motel; these friends he makes are single serving friends.
It’s a pessimistic view from a pessimistic story, but I can’t help identifying with it just a tad. Living and teaching in Korea, most of my friends here are teachers as well. As part of the occupation, we usually have one year contracts. We meet new friends and enjoy each other’s company, knowing that within the year, one of us will most likely return home or move to a different country to continue our adventures abroad.
An awesome thing about sharing an occupation with most of your friends is the schedule aspect. We all work Monday through Friday, so the weekends are filled with camaraderie, laughs, and shared experiences. Mornings and afternoons during the week are often spent together on the beach, or at a coffee shop, or at a local dive for a quick lunch. Weekday evenings are spent playing games, grabbing dinner and drinks, or catching the latest superhero flick on the big screen downtown. During the months we spend together, we see a great deal more of each other’s beautiful faces than in a typical friendship back home. Then, all too soon, it’s time to say goodbye.
We leave and move on, unsure if our paths will cross again. We’re left with pictures, trinkets, scars…. memories of joy and pain that leave a faded afterimage in our hearts of all we shared together. With time, some things will be forgotten, but some things will stay with us forever. A smile received, a compliment given, some tears shared. A conversation had, an observation spoken, an experience lived through.
Like the Narrator in Fight Club, we meet these friends for a finite amount of time. But, unlike him, we share so much more. We spend more time together in the months here than many friends do in a lifetime at home. And, while we may never meet again, we will share a bond that runs deep enough to withstand the test of time. These aren’t single serving friends. These are a lifetime of experiences condensed into one potent, beautiful year. It’s friendship concentrated, condensed, and injected directly into our veins. It’s painfully, wonderfully bittersweet and it’s deliciously intoxicating and inspiring.
Some may wonder what inspires us to travel, to be on the move so often that we never really have a permanent home. The biggest reason, for me at least, is the people. I’ve made so many amazing friends here who have become, in a sense, family. As some of my close friends here are moving on and my own time in Korea is winding down to its conclusion, I can’t help but think how lucky I’ve been. Lucky to have amazing friends and family back home who I can’t wait to see again and lucky to have made so many new friends from all over the world.
For anyone who has dreamed of traveling, but feared the separation from family and friends, I say go… follow those dreams. Because the nature of friendship, and of love, defies the barriers of distance and time.
Roman, Sara… I’m gonna miss you guys like crazy! I WILL see you again <3
The breathtaking Pohang International Fireworks Festival. Best. Fireworks. EVER!