Leaving My Native Land

This journal entry sheds a little light on moving to the Middle East.

Luckily, I initiated the application process in January — a time when I was on vacation from my assistant professorship in Korea. It wasn’t until two days before my return to Korea in February that I recieved word that I wa hired.

That’s right! I had a two month winter vacation! I could not leave my coworkers high and dry in the middle of my contract so I returned to Korea where I finished the remainder. Again, lucky for me, the company that hired me was willing to wait until I completed my contract before they  required that I resign and whisked me away. Grateful, I fulfilled my duties in Korea, but always with the thought in the back of my mind that I would not return. To date, it has been five months since I was hired, however, I have only been in Saudi Arabia for four days.

I had applied to work in the Middle East before to no avail. So when I was hired and flown here I was delighted, a little apprehensive, but mostly excited. I thought this is what I had been waiting for for months if not longer — the chance to expand my horizons to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. My embarkation on this next journey was only hours away when I was overcome with a doubt. Somehow I felt that this all was a mistake. That somehow this was not really what I should be doing. I rationalized: I am after all a native Angeleno; I should be doing what native Angelenos do — watching Dodgers baseball;  heading to Venice beach; eating a Pink’s hot dog; or drinking soju in Koreatown. Oh how Korea has influenced Los Angeles!

Really! What was I headed to the Middle East for? Isn’t there enough diversity in Los Angeles to keep me satistified with being there? Why go to the spring from which that diversity comes? The short answer is adventure.

The way I see it staying in Los Angeles entails a level of sophistication (or compromise) on my part that I do not have (nor wish to do). That is, I would need a tremendous amount of money each month to maintain a decent lifestyle what with mounting rent, car payments, utilities, and entertainment. Not to mention the extra expenses I would incur were I to welcome a child into the world. This is my dilemma with living in Los Angeles. Sure, I could do it differently and compromise. But, why? I seek independence. Thus I must leave my beloved hometown. Doing so will afford me the chance to spread my wings, see the world and hopefully return to my native better prepared to face life in Los Angeles.

My predicament is not so different from all other Angelenos who have chosen to live abroad rather than stay and flounder. Often times there is more opportunity abroad as I have found.

Then there are those Angelenos who have not fared so well, but continue to reside in California. I see these people still holding on to their California dream regardless how their circumstances have deteriorated. These Angelenos can be found all over the city in various states of disarray. Honestly, there are many traps and it takes a savvy being to not be snared or entangled in them.

Then there are those Angelenos who are better off, but not by much, who seem to doggedly remain fixtures in Los Angeles. You see them working everywhere from restaurants and banks, to amusement parks and museums, for instance. Those that are skilled eek out a living for themselves and never think about traveling abroad. They may wish to, but the promise of daily work keeps them filled and satisfied daily. Their pride overrides their plight and keeps them working hard to improve the city, which they do.

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Graffiti at Abbot Kinney Blvd

Then there are the throngs of native Angelenos and transplants, some of whom are well-to-do, and they remain oblivious to the existence and narratives of the less fortunate Angelenos. They wear their nice outfits to the beaches and strut around with an air about them that is unmistakably proud if not arrogant.

This is the Los Angeles that I see. This is the Los Angeles that I will miss. This is the Los Angeles that always welcomes me back home. She wears a head dress with the word Hollywood scrawled over it and her warm bossom is covered in familiar streets that traverse her curvaceous deriere whose two humps make up the hills I know well — Baldwin Hills and Beverly Hills. As always I just keep moving. It is too much to just sit and watch. It is more to do. It is necessary. Therefore, I must do too. Not without a little heartache have I embarked on this journey to the Middle East.

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@ LACMA with Jessica

Before leaving L.A. I made time to reconnect with old and new friends like Jessica whom I met a year ago while working in Peru. Twice I had breakfast with Jumane, a junior high school classmate with whom I had the pleasure of traveling cross country on a tour of HBCU’s with our beloved sixth grade teacher, the late Mrs. Shirley Clisby. Then I was treated to dinner at a lovely Indian restaurant by Eryn and Exinia — friends from Hamilton High School.

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@an Indian restaurant with Exinia and Eryn
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@ breakfast with Jumane

I am grateful to have friends who have found ways to survive and thrive in Los Angeles. I always thought Los Angeles presented some tough options for me to choose from, but after talking with my friends I learned that these were not my struggles alone. In my friends I see my reflection and found new insight into life in my native.

But for now…

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King Fahd International Airport, Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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