Humorously Speaking #5: The Humorous Speech
How many of you have moved in the past two years? Was the moving process fun? To me, moving is like childbirth. Childbirth is incredibly painful for the mother, and no sane woman would want to go through it twice. But over time, a veil of forgetfulness descends upon her, until she finally says, “Let’s have another child.” Moving is incredibly painful, too, but again the veil of forgetfulness descends, until you find yourself agreeing to move, in my case, to Korea.
I’m in the process of leaving now, so it seems fitting that the theme of my speech today is “moving.” Like a fine symphony, my speech will contain three “movements.” But instead of allegro, adagio and scherzo, first I’ll talk about physically moving from one place to another. Then I’ll talk about the bowel movement, the poop, or the difficulties of moving. Last, I’ll discuss “moving,” an adjective that means stirring up deep emotions.
The first time I moved was at age 18, when I went away to college, and everything fit in the back of a station wagon. The second time was when I moved out of the dormitory the next summer, and six of us carried all my stuff to a home off campus…in one trip. Since then I’ve moved countless times. And each time I have more “stuff.”
Now, compared to some, I’m not super materialistic. I was influenced by living seven years in Japan, where the minimalist lifestyle is summed up by a cartoon which shows a married couple walking into an empty room. The husband says, “We’ve been robbed!” and the wife says, “No we haven’t. We’re Japanese.”
But still, the first part of the moving process for me is…shopping. Buying beautiful Korean items that the U.S. government will pay to ship back, so long as you don’t go over weight. That means buying a chest of drawers decorated with an enamel cherry tree, celadon pottery, and refrigerator magnets because really, you can never have enough refrigerator magnets. You know I’m right.
Then you have to throw things out and sort the rest. Most of our stuff goes back via ocean freight and we’ll see it again only God knows when. 450 pounds goes back air freight, and we’ll see it in ten days. In this shipment we pack towels, sheets, kitchen items, and what apparently to my husband is the most important item we own: the TV. And the remaining stuff, what we still have now, fits in four suitcases, and two carry-on bags.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wrap and box things ourselves. But when the professionals come and put our possessions in four wooden crates, and nail those crates shut, the reality sinks in. We’re moving, because you have to follow your stuff.
My second movement today is the bowel movement, the poop, the things that go wrong during a move. You have to keep track of hundreds of details, and it’s easy to make mistakes. This time around, it turned out that a step ladder that I thought belonged to us, and is now en route to the U.S., belongs to the U.S. government.
Things can get lost or damaged during a move. Once we moved an electronic piano, and then couldn’t find the cord. We found it several months later under the top of the piano, where the mover had put it. A friend of ours had possessions get moldy when she put them in storage, including two huge stone lanterns. Personally, I would have just taken photos of the lanterns, but no, she bought them. She especially appreciated the way the stone had taken on a certain character as it aged, a character which was entirely lost when they scrubbed it to remove the mold.
The last movement of my speech centers around “moving,” defined as stirring deep emotions. How many of you have seen the movie “Avatar”? Do you remember how the blue cat people bond with the bird-like creatures they fly on by entangling their hair with them? I’m entangled with lots of people in Seoul, and now the disentangling process is stirring deep emotions. Gratitude when I think of how we have supported each other in our quest for self-improvement. Happiness when I think of how we have made each other laugh, like when Sarah Gu pretended to be her Chinese grandmother. And love, always love. But we don’t have to fully disentangle. I will always feel a connection to my friends at Toastmasters, and we are only an email or a Facebook post away.
Moving can be such a pain, but if I hadn’t moved to Korea, I never would have met you. And despite the fact that Korean kimchi is too spicy, and silkworm larva is just plain gross. Despite the fact that Koreans have too few last names, and when you yell “Mr. Kim” in a crowded room, half the men look up. And even though compared to you beautiful, skinny Korean women, I look like a great white whale, I will miss Korea.
But fortunately, lots of Koreans live in northern Virginia near my house, so I’ll be able to go shopping at Lotte, eat bibimbap, visit a jimjilbang, and attend a Korean church if I want. Come to think of it, now that I’ve lived in Korea, I’ll fit in better in my own neighborhood back home.
And that’s the beauty of moving: a broader understanding that we are all part of an orchestra playing a symphony of many movements. And that the music we make together is exquisite.