Every time I open my mouth to say my age I get confused. Am I really 64 years old? Somehow it just doesn't make sense. I simply cannot understand that number. And yet, if you do the math it seems to be correct.
I've been a traveler now since January 25th this year. I sold my house, minimized and put the leftovers in a storage unit. Why? Because when you reach the age of 64 you find that most of your friends have become stationary/fixed in their ways. They seem happy to stay just where they are. Comfortable even if not completely happy. We experience more aches and pains. Perhaps our families have grown and we spend more time with extended families. It's harder to find time to socialize with friends. In some cases illness or physical issues are now obstacles. I get it. It was not easy to pack up and go.
Me? I thrive on change, diversity, the unexpected, and spontaneity. I have a youthful demeanor. I take measures to try to stay healthy by staying away from doctors! Although I try to be adult I'm immature and just can't seem to grow up and act my age - - except in my professional life, of course.
I've been in South Korea for almost three months. I love it here. I love the country, the history and historical sites, the ease of getting around, the fact that I have to walk so much that I've lost 13 pounds without having to try.
Korea seems to be quite organized. In larger cities neighborhoods seem to be clearly designated for various reasons: fashion street, K-Pop road, busking spots, shopping malls, hiking trails and more. You will see people of all ages walking, hiking, socializing and more. Sanitation is very good in South Korea. There are public bathrooms everywhere - especially in the Metro. They are generally clean and well maintained, Water stops are provided on hiking trails. I especially like the umbrella bags that are provided at the entrances to stores. It covers your wet umbrella so the floors do not get wet. I like seeing families together. I like that there are designated seats on the subways for pregnant woman, elderly and disabled. There are elevators and escalators to take you even up a mountainside. These little things make you feel good. They make you feel like you are cared for.
My initial month in South Korea was spent in Seoul and Suwon. You can read about my adventures there on this blog site.
I've been in southern South Korea since August 9th, I am living in Busan, a large port city. I'm located about a 25-minute walk from Haeundae Beach, a hopping thriving section of town where locals and tourists can be found at anytime night and day. During the daytime you will see people of all ages. At night the city is filled with the youth; the beautiful, young, vibrant, hard working and playful "kids" in their 20's and 30's.
I had no idea this was the direction my life would take. I am enjoying every minute of it.
I was told that my age didn't matter so I came to Busan on a work exchange program. I work and live at the "As Home Homestay Language Academy", a place where local Koreans come to practice speaking in English.
The atmosphere is casual, relaxed, friendly and supportive. The students are all really nice and quite generous as well. I have met some wonderful people who often take the time to share their lives with us, the volunteer teachers. That was one of the reasons I came here; I had hoped to see Korea through the eyes of the local people. I did not expect the added bonus of sharing a living space with my Korean "bosses" and some incredible young traveling "teachers" from around the world.
Am I really 64? I told my kids I think I'm aging backwards. I never thought I'd find myself living in a dormitory again. Yet here I am. I actually love it. For the first month I shared a room with up to five other young women aged anywhere from 19 to 35. I worried about my sleeping issues; snoring and middle of the night bathroom runs. I admit that we all needed to adjust to my snoring. At first my roommates were disturbed by it. My bosses and I tried different solutions. None were completely effective.
Nevertheless, we all adjusted somehow. New roommates came and went. The most recent claimed they actually enjoyed the snoring - it lulled them to sleep. I came to really love sharing the room with all the young women. I enjoyed staying up, the late night chats, some partying.... and when lights went out everyone retreated either to sleep or to their smartphones for some semblance of private time. Everyone was very considerate of each other and made efforts to get along.
We share the building, living communally with up to around 25 young men and women. At first it felt a bit awkward bumping into the boss or co-workers in pj's. No-one criticized or made you feel uncomfortable. At age 64 I can safely say that it sure beats living alone feeling isolated and old.
Many of the young adults here treat me like a friend - not a mom or older lady. They admire me and find me inspiring. They, like me, can't believe I'm 64. We do many activities together including going out late nights to dancing bars. The most amusing part is having to show my ID. I get a laugh when the doorman realizes my age. Unbelievably I was actually not allowed into one club because I was "too old"!!!! My younger colleagues felt so bad that they all chipped in to pay for a taxi ride home for me. I truly felt like a little kid at that moment. I have since learned that it seems to be some sort of policy that people over age forty cannot go to the same clubs as the under-forty crowd. OY VEY. There's always the Karoake bar!
I really don't enjoy clubbing. Never did. But I had to try it at least once! In any case I sometimes think I have more energy than the young ones here. Maybe it's that I'm already used to having a few aches and pains? They complain of a few mosquito bites and need to rest their legs and sleep for longer hours. Okay, I can't stand mosquitoes. I'm doing pretty well with walking, dancing and living without much sleep. After all, we older folks don't need as much sleep as the younger.
At 64 I have the benefit of years of life experience. So I have a few stories to share and the roommates enjoy hearing them. I enjoy their expertise when it comes to technology.
My busking buddy is twenty-five years old. We're a perfect match in a unique way. I've learned a bunch of new and current songs and he's learned a few oldies. In this way we are able to engage audiences of all ages. Listeners find us a curious match and sometimes ask about it. Actually we met one day when I was busking solo. This talented young man was listening for some time. Finally he approached me and asked to sing one song. I invited him to sing another. I sang some harmonies and soon enough we became a duo.
Am I really 64? No matter how I try I just can't make sense out of that number!