This Is Goodbye

When I was young, I thought that I would be able to breathe underwater. Water was, to me, just a thin film that covered an area of air, until I decided to fill my bathroom sink with water. In the end, I ended up inhaling water and figured out that water takes up space and is not just a thin film that sat above air. When I was a bit older living in California, I held on to the side of a swimming pool and took a lap around the pool until my hands slipped and I fell into the deep end and when I woke up, I was on the floor beside the pool coughing up water. I am scared of swimming. I joke sometimes about death.

I am not afraid of eating alone. I don’t like to drink alone. I prefer reading Hemingway to Stein. I pretend to speak French and Italian. My first language is Korean but I am a native English speaker. I’ve only loved in English. I’ve loved less than a handful of women in my life. Love is a painful process. Opening up is a difficult process to me. Friends have commented on my mysterious past. I’ve thought about moving to countries across the ocean where I can’t speak their language, from where I can’t come back home. The sound of trains reminds me of old times back in the city, by the 4-train station. I have read more books in Buffalo than I have in Westchester. I know more about Hemingway than I do about my brother. I have read more Bolaño than I have Poe. I am more American (North, Central, and South) than I am Asian. I feel more connected to the United States than I do with Korea. A body of water separates me from my past and my present.

I have been in fights. I have been mugged. Death is something that I accept and have accepted ever since my friend jumped off the library of NYU. I am afraid of dying with my glasses on. I am afraid of sleeping with my contacts on. I am afraid of drowning. The “S” on my keyboard is the most worn out on my laptop. Swimming is something I do not enjoy. I have never owned a swimming pool. I have never lived in a house. I have had sex in public. I have never had sex in front of other people. I have had sex while on drugs. I have smoked marijuana, opium, crack, snorted coke, popped ecstasy, and tabs of acid, but not all at once. I have never ridden a horse while high. I rode a horse, my first and last time, bareback in California and saw a snake inside of a rusty tractor. I was almost swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean during high tide. I have injured more people in my life than I have hurt myself. I have tried to make one thousand cranes for a wish but never got beyond folding twenty.

Writing is a way for me to forget that I exist even if I write about myself. I am not who I am. I am who you think I am. I tend to over-exaggerate things, for example, in my fourth grade class, I told my class I held a fish out of water for over a minute and my teacher asked me if the fish died and I changed my story multiple times until I settled on twenty seconds because I did not understand time until I got a watch in sixth grade. I worry about my parents, my mother especially. I worry about women, especially women who I’ve slept with. I have the tendency to develop feelings of intense jealousy and possessiveness. I never thought that my friend would be the one to be murdered by his mother’s boyfriend. I could smell the bodies from the apartment. I can’t go to fish markets to this day.

I know more about Chinese history than I do about Korean history. I am incensed by the atrocity committed by the Japanese in Nanking. I am disgusted by the atomic bomb. I am disgusted by genocide. Racism makes me feel sick to my stomach. I feel lost in this world. I have dreamt about flying to the moon. I have dreamt of watching the world from a distant planet. The world is killing me. Death is something that we can look forward to. It’s something that we all experience; it’s something that while sad is welcoming. It is a reminder that we are alive. Death and love go hand in hand. While I can say I love you a million times, the best time for me to say it is before I die.

I love you. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • guest


  • Jordana Bevan

    i <3 you too :(

    • Michael Koh

      <3 you too thank you

  • Nick Guy Rees

    I really, really enjoyed that. The way you played with stream-of-consciousness, but never really went there was very clever, but perhaps more than me liking the play I enjoyed it because I can relate to the piece. 

    Well done, 3/5. But seriously, don’t pull any meta crap if you know what I mean, eh?

    • Michael Koh

      i’m not sure what you mean by ‘meta crap’ but thank you for reading

      • Emil Caillaux

        I think he means take care of yourself, Michael. As do I, so please do.

        Stellar work, lad.

      • Michael Koh

        thank you, emil

      • Nick Guy Rees

        meta as in metanarrative…as in don’t write this and then kill yourself.

      • Nick Guy Rees

        (Obviously you didn’t. Obviously you won’t, because that’s just dumb. Dumbdumbdumb.)

    • Chelsea Fagan

      he doesn’t know what you mean

  • Hardeep_bhatti


  • Makia Gold Ruck$

     beautiful. and i love roberto bolano.  thank god.

  • charlotte

    wow… that was beautiful.

  • Mitzy/MarieKat

    It’s like exploring the mind of a person. Bare and beautiful. 

  • Kirstenchen3

    I like this. I think Hemingway would as well (though I’m more Steinbeck myself). The bold movement of each thought and the brief, almost curt way in which everything was put forth was very new-age Hemingway. Dig it.

    • guest

      i think he meant gertrude stein

    • Michael Koh

      yes, i meant gertrude stein, but thank you, glad you liked it.

  • Skyyy

    twisted but beautiful. 

  • Eva

    I want to say this is deep, but self-indulgent feels more accurate. Slapping a poetic title on does not make it what it’s not.

    • Michael Koh

      i don’t think of it as ‘indulgence’ but more of a ‘remembrance’ and so, confessing the past to the present. thank you for reading. 

  • Alex Thayer

    dude what the fuck is this shit?

    • Michael Koh

      alex, if you have nothing critical to say about the piece, don’t comment on it. thanks

    • Jordana Bevan

      ugh yankees fan

  • Oriana

    I really enjoyed reading this piece because each memory flowed into the next one with so much grace.  I especially liked the faded “S” on your keyboard and then the alliterative details that followed (swimming, smoking, sex).  The title reminded me of a haiku.

    There is nothing you can see that is not a flower.
    There is nothing you can think that is not the moon.
    – Matsuo Basho

    Keep selling your thoughts.  I’m buying it. 

  • Eden Mabee

    So much flowing here….  We’re all lost.  That doesn’t mean we should be found.  Being lost means we’re encountering new territory.  Exploration thrills and entices me.   It needs you.

    I love you too.

  • Guest

    this reads like a suicide note. i hope this isnt a suicide note. :(

  • person

    I love you, stranger. 

    • Anonymous

      … but I love him too..

  • e marie

    Please don’t die. Your writing is beautiful.

    • Michael Koh

      we all die in some way, but thank you, i will live on

  • Michaelwg

    You should take B vitamins.

  • samantha

    Eerie and gorgeous. I want to read more of your writing.

  • Caroline

    And this is why I read TC..

  • Oliver Mol

    really like this

  • Frances

    beautiful flaunting of flaws – applause 

  • Guest

    I liked it:

  • Samie Rose

    this is making me shiver in my cubicle. if i get a fever because of reading what you wrote, i’m coming after you.

    • Michael Koh

      i can buy you hot tea, maybe

  • beatrice

    I loved the rash and matter of fact style in this article, especially since you were striving to make peace with your past to progress in the present? I like you Michael Koh.

    Gawd, it’s infuriating to not have even submitted a TC article yet.

  • God

    You’ll look back on this one day and laugh and laugh at yourself.

    • asdf

      lolz. god, you joykill.

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