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I Spent My Thanksgiving In a Korean Wellness Center 

My life is never ordinary, average, or normal. Ever.

Here is how it all started. I was informed by my mother a few days ago (like the Monday before Thanksgiving) that we would be having Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday instead of Thursday. Being that I was told so late, I already had my schedule given to me & I happened to be on the work schedule for Saturday.

Not going to lie, I was a bit irritated irritated. (I do think the depression made the feeling worse). For once, I kind of did want to be with family or people I actually cared about. My boyfriend had left to see his mother out of state & I knew my friends down here had plans of their own. So I was left to my own devices.

In my head, I planned it all out. I was going to have the day to myself. It was going to be quiet. My phone was going to be off. I was going to read, paint, sleep as much as I wanted to, and not answer my phone all day. I know, that does not sound like much planning, but even planning to do nothing is still me planning.

I woke up in a very “blah” mood on Thanksgiving day. I told myself that I was going to do whatever it is that makes my heart happy & not think too much.

I get up, go to the bathroom, get back in bed. I try to lay down and relax, but I hear chatter. I hear YouTube videos. I hear noise *rolls eyes*. I just want it to be quiet.

I run out of the house because I get an email from Michael’s saying that there is 30% off your total purchase, the day before Black Friday. Perfect, because I need another watercolor pad & I hate paying full price for anything. Driving, there aren’t that many people on the road. This is how actually every day life needs to be, people spending time with people & not congesting my path (selfish, I know). Get to Michaels, they’re CLOSED (but of course, because…my life). Turn around, not even upset, maybe I just needed to get out of the house. Get back home. Get back in bed. A few minutes later there is a knock on my room door & it is my mother. She does that annoying thing she does where she opens the door & just stares, looking around the room.

I say,”Yes.”

She says, “What’s up with this room?” (alluding to the fact that there are stacks of books and small piles of clothes on the floor, because when you deal with depression you really don’t care about the appearance of a room that only you see).

I subtly roll my eyes & say, “Yes.” one more time because I know she didn’t come to my room to tell me about my messy room.

She proceeds to ask me to help her clean up a house I’m barely in.

Now, in my head, my mind is screaming, “LEAVE US THE F ALONE! WE ALREADY HAVE PLANS TO RELAX AND NO ONE WANTS TO HELP YOU CLEAN UP YOUR NOT SO MESSY HOUSE TO PLEASE PEOPLE I DONT CARE ABOUT OR EVEN KNOW! WE DONT CONTRIBUTE TO THE “MESS” SO WHY DO WE HAVE TO HELP YOU CLEAN UP SHIT WE DIDNT DIRTY? WE. ALREADY. HAVE. PLANS. SO, NO!

Of course I didn’t say all of this, all that managed to come out was, “But I’m barely even here.”

I don’t even make eye contact because I can already feel the tears welling up in my eyes because all I wanted to do was be left alone since I don’t have my own space & then the self-loathing/self-judging kicks in & I just need a couple thousand dollars to get myself straight, but who the hell is going to give that to me, I need a better paying job…..etc etc etc. (if you didn’t know depression & anxiety have a way of doing the absolute most & within 5 seconds you have about 30 negative thoughts that pass through your mind).

My mother then begins to go on about how I live here too & how she wants me to help out & blah blah blah.

The depression in my head is NOT having it & it goes OFF. “SHE DIDNT EVEN ASK YOU HOW YOU WERE TODAY. SHE DOESNT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOU, ONLY HOW HER HOUSE APPEARS TO THESE STUPID GUESTS WHO ARE JUST GOING TO NYAM (that’s patois for “eat”) FOOD & THEN LEAVE. AND I BET SHES GOING TO ASK YOU TO HELP CLEAN UP AFTERWARDS TOO. SHE HAS A WHOLE BOYFRIEND AND ANOTHER DAUGHTER THAT CAN HELP HER, NONE OF WHOM ARE HANDICAPPED SO WHY CANT SHE JUST LEAVE YOU ALONE? SHE DOESNT EVER GET IT! SHE NEVER GETS IT! EVEN IF YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU ARE FEELING TO HER, SHE WONT GET IT! WHY DOESNT SHE UNDERSTAND YOU YET? YOU ARE 25 FOR CRYING OUT LOUD??” etc etc etc.

Once more, all that comes out is, “I am going through a bout of depression right now.”

I can feel her staring at me burning a hole in the side of my face with her eyeballs & then she closes the door. I literally burst into tears.

I just want peace. Quiet. To be left alone.

Now I feel trapped. Where do I go, what do I do? I want to reach out to my friends, my boyfriend, but I don’t want to be a grouch on thanksgiving while everyone else is enjoying time with their loved ones. I don’t want to put a damper on the good energy that they are in.

I cry some more. My mind screams at me, “IF YOU HAD YOUR SHIT TOGETHER YOU WOULDNT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANY OF THIS BECAUSE YOU WOULD BE IN YOUR OWN SPACE WHERE YOU COULD CONTROL THE ENERGY. FUCK THIS UNIVERSE SHIT. NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE YOU. CAN YOU EVEN SAVE YOURSELF?” (Also, if you did not know already depression is a bih. Like the biggest one ever.)

I just want to sleep so the chatter can stop. I try to sleep, but my brain doesn’t want to shut off. So I get up & start painting. But for real, I’m tired. So I lay back down. I hear more conversations, music, people on speaker phone, the neighbor outside yelling to another neighbor because the haven’t seen each other in a while (again, my mind says, “Why in the hell can’t they just walk closer to each other instead of yelling down the block? Because, you know, that would be the logical thing to do instead of the WHOLE neighborhood hearing their whole conversation”). I put on my music, Tibetan singing bowls to be exact, to calm my mind. I still hear people walking up & down the stairs. My mother goes to my sisters room. My mind goes, “Please don’t let her knock on your door because we will completely flip shit & freak all the way out. But don’t think about it because you might attract it happening..

The energy feels so off. I get out of bed, pulling a blanket behind me, and go in my closet. I think about going to sleep, but am I really resorting to sleeping in my closet??? This is all the way wrong. Just go to sleep, but I can’t. UGH.

I grab my phone & google how long it will take me to get to Jeju. I already had a mind to go, but I forgot in the midst of the negative chatter. Estimated 45 minutes. Perfect.

I throw some clothes in my overnight bag & leave without saying anything to anyone. I don’t tell anywone where I’m going. I just leave.

Yes.

I drive with no music playing. Sometimes I am driving autopilot because I do not remember switching lanes or passing certain exits. The body is so interesting. I get there around noon & there are more people than I expected on Thanksgiving, mostly Asian people, which makes sense.

I check in & immediately hit the jewel sauna (its filled with crystals like selenite, amethyst, rose quartz, emeralds, etc). I don’t know how long I stayed in there, but it felt good to sweat. I get up & go to the Clay sauna. Again, I don’t know how long I was in there, but I know I fell asleep.

I got up & ate some food because I remembered I did not eat all day. This was around 2pm, now. I went back to the women’s side & I get naked. Hot tub, infrared lights, dry sauna, shower. Repeat. Some women try to make conversation, but I am in my own world, so I probably came off a little cold & unable to form a real smile.

I feel sleepy again so I go to the sleeping room & knock out. Don’t know how long I slept, but I come out & get some ramen noodles. It tastes good. I like eating with the metal chopsticks & I like sitting on the floor & eating on a very low table. Not bad for a thanksgiving dinner. I read for a bit & wait a while. Time for more saunas. First the gold & silver sauna then the salt sauna. Again, I don’t know how long I stayed in there (I keep saying this because I only had my phone with me once to play music, but I didn’t keep checking it), but it felt like my body was crying & releasing toxins so I listened to my body & left when I felt it was right.

Head back to the women’s quarters, I shower & lay under the infrared lights again. People try to talk to me once more, but I’m in my own world. Some people I just answer their questions, one woman I talked to about waist beads and another about the connection between the people of Jamaica & Ethiopia (she was Ethiopian). I watch as these Korean women scrub & bathe each other. It’s so beautiful. Mothers washing daughters, daughters washing mothers, grandmothers, aunts, probably even friends. There are old women walking around naked, young girls walking around naked & it’s so normalized. I think to myself, “Why don’t black women have more of this, this bonding time where women of all ages can come together without shame for shape or size & ritualize in baths? Why can’t we go back to this?” Someone interrupts my thought by asking me simple questions. I entertain her for a bit. Her friend comes to meet her so I go back to the hot tub by myself.

I decide to get a body shampoo/scrub. Totally not in my budget, but F it. I deserve it. That Korean lady scrubbed me ALL the way down & it felt like heaven! When she was finished, I took a shower & went back to the sleeping room. I made myself as comfortable as I could get. I turned on the infrared light there for a bit & then went to sleep.


To be honest, it wasn’t the best sleep I had. The spot I got was right in front of the door so there was a constant light shining in (I have to sleep in total darkness & silence). There were pretty thin sleeping mats that we laid on & the “pillows” were like sitting pillows, very hard. I did what I could to sleep. The floors were heated, so that was nice. I woke up a few times during the night (people were still being loud, talking in the locker room, people were snoring loudly, babies were crying, etc). It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

I actually got up around 6:45, brushed my teeth, washed my face & then started to read. The woman who I had spoken to about waist beads the night before asked me to help her take out her weave. I know it sounds crazy, but I actually enjoyed it. She trusted me, a stranger to do something as intimate as her hair. So I did & she told me about her hair stylist & what her new style was going to be.

We finished, I got ready, & headed out. My overall experience was not exactly what I had in mind, but it was definitely better than staying with my mothers house (because I know an argument would have ensued). I ended up going to Sevananda to get some breakfast and then taking a nap in my car for a bit (also, be not alarmed, this is a very normal behavior for me). I woke up and went to Ali Baba to read for a bit, then I went to work. That was my Thanksgiving/Black Friday experience. I know it was a lot, but hey, that is the story of my life!

P.S. I don’t have many pictures because, again, I did not have my phone on me much while I was at Jeju + I still don’t feel that my life is that interesting to be taking selfies every 20 minutes. I like to be detached from my phone anyways.

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