Back in Seoul in my nothing by nothing kitchen-less apartment. I try not to compare my life to others as anyone knows this tends to end in disappointment and dismay. Two days ago I happened down my hallway just as my building’s ajjussi (uncle) was cleaning out another apartment. I, sweet and charming, returned to my room to collect the sakura-macha KitKats I hold on reserve for special people, and gifted them to him while peering wildly into the cavernous empty space, perhaps three times the size of my nothing by nothing. Later, after he had left, I snuck in and admired the three bright windows looking out onto the street, the medium sized refrigerator, the single stove top and washing machine– now such foreign luxuries to my eyes. I slumped back into my own room, sat on my torn black office chair, tucking my feet between the old worn mattress and the heated floor. I stared out my own gray window glazed over with frosted glass, suddenly suffocating under the widening of my reality.
Civilized people in the world would think the other apartment was shit, and would find my own living situation unbearable. I’ve lived in penthouse lofts, luxury homes, keyless entry modern whatevers in the middle of Harajuku. Other people’s houses. At the end of two weeks or four months I’d pack up my suitcase on the floor and leave, wanting not for myself what these other people had so eagerly spent time cultivating into their refuge from the outside world.
I dreamt of that apartment down my hall, those three open windows open to the spring air. I replaced the dingy mattress with a full size bed that could easily fit whatever man I found entertaining enough to sleep next to me. I put plants in all the windowsills and smelled the lingering hint of masala spice wafting in the air from my cooking on that single stove top. I pictured another slightly better life for myself that until that day, I had not dared to imagine.
The following morning my friend reported to me that the apartment had been rented. I meditated for fifteen minutes in my bed to a youtube video of muffled ambient music and an Australian man’s voice telling me to pack away my boxes of anxiety and float into a starry night sky filled with endless possibilities. I expressed that in the only way that I knew how- taking a shower, washing my hair, and with a fresh sponge in hand, scrubbing away at the mold that had accumulated in all the hidden crevices of my bathroom from long before I had moved in. I squatted, naked, diligently on the tile floor, alternating the bathroom cleaner with the mold spray, finding spot after spot that needed my attending. Like a garden of weeds, mold is the gift that keeps on giving. If my bathroom had a window, I wouldn’t have any mold to clean, and my boxes of anxiety would never be unpacked. If I had more room, I’d have more objects I wouldn’t need. If I had everything I wanted, I’d have nothing to dream about.