When I was in my early and mid twenties I wanted to experience everything. I guess I’m still in my mid twenties, right? is 27 mid or is it bordering late? I’m unsure. But I know I feel old. Or–what I mean to say is that my actions now reflect those of an older man. Far older than I was at 23-24-25, though it’s been only two years, three years, four years. Back then I was always on an adventure and that was how my life felt–like one long adventure. I don’t know when I lost that but I suspect it was about a year into my masters program. This isn’t to say I dislike my schooling at the moment. In fact I enjoy it very much. I enjoy sitting down everyday and diving into books and contemplating the way in which fiction works. What compels people to continue to read the next page, then the next, and the next. But with a program such as the one I am taking part in so do a lack of time–a lack of time to do other things. Before I started at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts I had so much time to work and play. Work hard, play hard.
When I turned 21 I went to Europe for six months. I lived out of one bag for all that time. I hitch hiked in the middle of the night in cities I had been told never to do so, Rome, Berlin, Milan. I climbed the beach cliffs of northern Denmark where the Nazi’s had built bunkers. These bunkers were slowly being devoured by the sea. Every year the high tides road up and crashed upon the cliffs and eroded the land on which the bunkers were set. Some bunkers were so covered with sand that only a tiny edge of them stuck out, like a hand from quicksand from the flat of the beach. One was even out in the water. The sea has slowly crept up on the land and what was once walkable is now underwater. I wondered what those of the Third Reich might have thought of that. Eventually all of those bunkers will be underwater and no trace of German occupation of Denmark will be left.
At 23 I left for South Korea to teach english as a second language. I went alone–my girlfriend at the time would follow 3 months later. I knew nobody in South Korea. I was alone and had never taught before. I had taken a very short–quite crappy TEFL course online. It didn’t really teach me anything, but I had to have it in order to go to South Korea. While there I was making so much money I had no idea what I should do with it so I bought the nicest bicycle I could find–a touring bike–and cycled the 300 miles from Seoul to Mokpo, through the countryside and along dirt roads and didn’t more than a dozen words to anyone for 4 days. The solitude was fantastic and alarming and miles and miles of the a 75% mountainous country passed below my tires, my feet.