Weekend is barely over, and I feel like I need a break. Actually, that doesn't really begin to describe it. I feel like I've fucking earned a break, and just can't get one, if that makes sense. Friday and Saturday were just fine. Didn't really get up to too much, just some wandering around, skateboarding in the park, that kind of stuff. Nice and relaxed.
And then Sunday came. And not only did it completely run me over, it ran me over, threw it into reverse, ran me over again, caught me in its' bumper, and drug me on the asphalt for a good 60 yards or so before leaving me sputtering for breath in its' dirty black exhaust. Yeah, it was that kind of day.
After typing that, I can totally picture Ant rolling his eyes and sighing, "She's sooo dramatic." And maybe I am. OK, not maybe. I sometimes am, definitely. But whatever. Shit happened, and it pissed me off and it hurt me alot and it made me sad enough that I almost cried in public which I never do unless I'm at the movies and it bothered me on a zillion different levels and it played into some insecurities of mine and it just sucked. It was nobody's fault, it just happened and it sucked.
We woke up early and decided to head to Ttukseom to do some climbing. We got there, and it was a beautiful, sunny day and the wall was uncrowded. Besides us there were only a few other climbers hanging around. Sweet! I wrestled my big feet into my tiny climbing shoes and began some easy peasy traversing along the wall, probably no more than 8 inches off the ground. Within seconds, literally, there was a group of Korean men with minimal English skills surrounding me, giving me unsolicited advice and climbing tips. And it's a bit of a tricky thing to explain, because to Ant and any other outsider watching and probably to most of you reading this, it seems pretty kind and really cool of them to offer help. And in many ways it was, and some of the tips were actually quite helpful. The tricky part is that (1) I'm certain in the way that all women are certain when this stuff happens that if I didn't have boobs and white skin they would not have been nearly so helpful, and (2) I didnt ask for their help. Or their advice. Or to spend my day with them. A brief greeting and a few minutes of shop talk is totally fine, but after that just leave me the heck alone. I like being anonymous and unnoticed. Most importantly, I like being untouched by strangers. There is no reason on this green earth that I need to have my ass groped by two strange men who are pretending to spot me in case I fall. I didn't ask for a spotter. For fuck's sake I was 8 inches off the ground! If I lose my footing I'll just freakin' take a step down!!!
As friendly and interested in my ass as they were while Ant was off doing other things, their demeanor changed considerably when he made an appearance. They were incredibly kind and helpful and respectful of him throughout the entire day, but for every ounce of respect they showed him, they tossed two ounces of disrespect in my direction. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women, especially foreign women, to be treated poorly in Korea. I love this country and I love living here, but this patriarchal bullshit needs to take a hike.
So Ant and I picked a route and he went about setting the ropes while I belayed him. The entire time I am belaying him, these guys are criticing my skills. Rudely. And loudly. Bitching cause I'm not wearing a glove. Telling me to stand here...no, there...no, here...It was annoying as fuck, but I grinned, occasionally nodded, and kept my gaze firmly planted on Ant. He reached the top, signaled, and I let him down.
Too fast. As soon as he hit the ground, he told me he had dropped too fast. And those stupid douchebags stood behind him and mimiced everything he said.
Ant: Jes, it felt a little fast. Try a little slower next time.
DB #1 (standing behind Ant): YEAH! FAST!
DB #2 (pops out from behind DB #1): TOO FAST! YEAH!
They were like Malfoy's sidekicks in the Harry Potter movies. It wore through my patience quick.
Truth? Maybe it was a little fast. I don't know. I was surprised that Ant had said that, because I had been feeling pretty proud of the job I had done. I felt like it was controlled and smooth, as opposed to what normally happens, which is I drop him a foot or so, get nervous and jerkily break him, ask if he's OK, drop him another foot or so, slam on the break, rinse, repeat as necessary until FINALLY he reaches the ground and begs for some courtesy slack so he can yank his harness down and pull his balls out of his throat. But, he's the one up there, so if he says slower I take that seriously and assure him I was in control and I'll go slower next time. It's his safety on the line - if he wants me to take 3 days to bring him down 15 meters, I'll do it with no problem.
So I took a turn, and you can imagine the English and Korean commentary going on below me. The only person I wanted directing me was Ant, and it seemed like he was the only person in a 5 mile radius that wasn't shouting orders at me.
"NO GOOD!! JESHKAH!!! NO GOOD!!"
"MOVE LEFT HAND!!" "NO, I SAID LEFT!!"
"THAT WAS MY FUCKING LEFT HAND!!!"
"JESHKAH!! NO GOOD!"
It wore through my patience quick.
Then Ant went back up, and seriously, you would have thought they were watching Jesus Christ himself climb his way up into the heavens. I mean, yeah, he's a decent climber and he looks damn good (if I do say so myself) on the wall, but there's no need to break out the hymnals cause he's nailing a 5.8.
And the whole time they are worshipping him, they are continuing to tell me I suck, they are grabbing the rope, they are physically pushing and pulling me, arguing over where is a better place for me to stand.
It wore through my patience quick.
Ant signalled that he was ready to come down, and I took a step back to make sure there was no slack and tightened my grip on the brake. He reminded me to go slow, the morons parroted him, and then he let go of the wall.
And I shot up into the air, so that we were both hanging, and then we were both falling. Only I only had about a two foot drop before I hit the ground and did my best to recover, whereas he fell hard from the top of the wall. He wasn't hurt, but he could've been. It could have been disastrous. We were both a bit shook up, more than a bit scared, and pumping adrenaline. It was my fault, I knew it, I knew how badly it could've ended, and I felt absolutely awful. There was silence, and then he turned and said something in anger. Something implying I had done it on purpose. I tried to explain what happened and see if he was OK, but Ant's small snap (which was fair enough, considering) had given everyone permission to snap at me, and soon I was hearing it from all angles, in all languages. Pointing. Laughing. Telling me I was no good. Scolding me like I was 3 years old.
And then one of them called me a whore in Korean. The other one agreed.
It wore through my patience fucking quick.
The whole thing had happened so fast that Ant hadn't seen what had happened. He thought I was playing because of the comment he made about the last drop I gave him being too fast. I like to play Scrabble. I like to force him into the Hot and Cold game when he can't find the remote or his iPod. I would not play around with belaying any person, especially him. Ever. I see other people doing it and it pisses me off. It's an unneccessary risk to pretend to drop someone from a wall, and I'd be quite vocal (to say the least) if anyone ever did it to me. I was hurt that he even considered for a second that I would do something to hurt him on purpose.
I've belayed Ant before, and I've been pulled a little by it, but never lifted completely off the ground like that. I don't know why it happened this time. Usually it's a weight thing, but in our case it hadn't been a problem until then. I don't know why. I certainly haven't lost weight since the last time we climbed together.
I was defeated. I lost all confidence. I almost hurt Ant, and I felt like crap for it. We talked briefly and he asked me to belay him again, but I was too nervous and knew I couldn't take any more comments and insults. So, I took a break to soak up some sun, pout a little, and eat some food while Ant climbed with the douche bags. I took some pictures, I tried to be friendly, but I have to be honest, it wasn't in me. I felt terrible and I didn't want to be around them anymore. I really would have been fine just laying on the mat while Ant climbed his heart out, but then DB #2 came over to tell me that I shouldn't sit out in the sun for so long because it would make me look old and no one would marry me.
And by then, I had no patience left to tear through.
I knew I was done climbing for the day, so I took off my shoes and went to snap some pictures of Ant up on the wall. While waiting for him to finish a few other foreigners showed up, and I introduced myself to the girl who was with them. Aside from reeking of patchouli, she seemed really cool. We chatted for a few minutes while she warmed up, and then Ant joined us in conversation. Finally - a pleasant part of the day. Maybe, if there were a group of foreigners, the rest of the crowd wouldn't feel so free with their comments. The day might not have to end on a bad note after all!
And then DB #1 and DB #2 joined our little circle.
They didn't know I sometimes struggle with my self esteem. They had no way of knowing that I often worry I might not be good enough for Ant, or might not do enough for him. They wouldn't have known that when they joined our group, looked me up and down, turned and looked her up and down, and then said, "Hey Anthony! You should change girlfriends! Change girlfriends!!" while pointing from me to the blonde, it would cut directly into the deepest, darkest, most painful parts of my insecurity. That's fucking rude in any language.
Ant handled the awkward silence that followed the comments pretty well, but after a day filled with guilt over almost seriously injuring Ant, being stared at, groped, laughed at, insulted, and called names for no reason I can identify, I was done. Just worn out. Worn out and ready to fucking kill someone. I tried. I really, really tried to let it go. But I couldn't. It was a gorgeous day and it should have been awesome from start to finish, but when the Universe sent me a test of compassion, patience, and shrugging off things that won't matter in the end, I blew it. I totally failed. Actually, I may have beaten my own record at taking failure to a whole new level.
And when it should have gotten better, it got worse, because Ant didn't think it was that big of a deal and didn't think I should even have cared about it, let alone cared as much as I did, and what was never supposed to even be an issue between us turned into something ugly and ended with him being much more concerned about things in our relationship (mainly us not always seeing eye to eye on things) than I knew he was.
Who wants to see eye to eye with someone all the time??? It seems so dull. I know couples like that, and they bore the shit out of me. What do couples like that talk about? "Hey, I was thinking, blah, blah, blah..." "Yes, I agree 100%." End of conversation. Yawn. "Hey, what do think about this?" "Well, I think the exact same thing as you. We always see eye-to-eye on everything!" Snooze fest. Ant and I have passionate discussions on everything from the best way to treat addictions to our classroom management philosophies. Discussing things with him never gets boring. For us, we're totally eye to eye on what I think are the important things: our value systems match, our general beliefs on the whole life and death thing match, what we want/don't want in our own futures matches pretty well. He likes beer, I like beer. See? We agree on the important stuff. I love that we don't always see eye to eye on every little thing, though. It means I learn things from him, I am presented with opportunities to see things in a different way because of him, my horizons are expanded and I laugh so much more because of it.
I never expected Ant to see eye to eye with me on this. He has no idea what it feels like for me to live in a country where I am offered money for sex almost everytime I leave the house without him. He doesn't know how much it wears on me to be stared at and touched by strangers all the time. Nobody follows him home from the subway, or treats him like an incompetent three year old ass just because of his gender. He didn't know about the names they called me because he hasn't learned those words in Korean yet.
I didn't expect him to have the same reaction or feelings I had. I didn't expect him to try to fix my feelings, or manage them for me. His take on the day is different than mine, and I'm fine with that. All I wanted was a little kindness, a little respect for the feelings I was having. If one of his close female friends or his mom called him for support after a shitty day, what would he say to them? That's all I wanted. I wanted a friend to understand how I felt and why I felt that way. I wanted someone to say, "Man, it sucks that you feel bad right now," even if I was being a big baby. Cause you know what? Regardless of the reason, feeling bad sucks. Maybe throw a hug into the mix because I like hugs and I fucking deserved one after that day.
Things didn't end because they were really resolved. Things ended because it was late and we needed sleep and there's only so much talking in circles a person can do.
Jeez. I just wanted a freaking hug after a shitty day. Instead I've been given a much larger, more difficult test from the Universe, and I'm scared shitless I'm gonna fuck it up.