by John Cho

In high school an English teacher told us that all literature could be categorized into three themes: Growing Up, Coming Home, and Fantasy. I argued that the first two were, in fact, equivalent. In my own confused way I tried to assert that Growing Up was the process of finding a niche for oneself, a Home, and that Fantasy was the vision employed to explore the possible paths to this destination.

He pointed out that in order to Grow Up one had to leave one's roots, one's Home, and go out into the big, bad world. Well, that only worked if one had roots to pull up. What of the cultural jellyfish?

I recalled a warning comment that a friend made half-jokingly.

"Being an outsider is romantic when you are young. But it gets more desolate as you grow older." Here was his "How the Lone Wolf Ages" timeline. (Or should we have called it "Looking for Home and Not Finding It"?)

 Age:  20  30  40  50  60  70+
 Label:  Free spirit  Wanderer  Drifter  Vagabond  Bum  Corpse

From the dashing to the destitute and, finally, to the decomposed, the loner tumbles down the steps of social opinion into the communal grave.

Actually I usually hold a full-time job (research scientist) and have never eaten at a soup kitchen, but I do enjoy traveling for the sake of traveling, then writing about it. And I'm still trying to find a place that feels like home to me...




John Cho's new book of poetry, SPAM-Ku: Tranquil Reflections on Luncheon Loaf, is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble on-line services. (Harper Perennial, New York, 96 pp., ISBN 0060952784, 1998.)




Christmas Every Day
A visit to Christmas Island in the Pacific--
or Kiritimati, according to the missionary-derived
perplexing local spelling

The Geography of Desire
Reflections on dunes, both celluloid and real,
orginally published in the San Juan Star

Remembering Baobabs
Travels in Senegal

From Istanbul to Van:
A Turkish Traverse

Impressions of Guatemala
and Chiapas, Mexico

Poems by John Cho

Freetown Bicentenary, 1987
Poem by John Cho

Mata de Plátanos
Poem by John Cho

To Be a Komodo Ranger
Is Not Easy

Travels in Indonesia

Nizhny Novgorod Journal
Travels in Russia

Return to Japan

Denizens of the Eldorado Youth Hostel
in Khomasdal, Namibia

Travels in Namibia

Travels with Nam
Travels in Italy


All stories copyright by John Nagamichi Cho.
Contact John Cho at: or visit his website at

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