Sooner or later, every adventure becomes mundane. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened for me, but that particular milestone has long since appeared from around the curve and zoomed past the car window undetected. It’s springtime in Korea and it’s been over fourteen months since I moved here, but I’m honestly not even counting up anymore. I’m counting down: ten months to go. That’s an odd feeling. Tabulating the time was for a long time an integral part of my life here. At first it was counting the days. Later, I started counting the weeks and, later still, the months. I counted the time that had passed since major milestones like teaching my first class, moving to an apartment in the city, or going to Seoul for the first time. I counted the time remaining until I had to make a decision about what I was going to do: leave after a year or stay for another? All of that is over, though. The important decisions have all been made and most of the meaningful milestones have been passed. All that’s left at this point is let this year run its course and begin making preparations for what will come next. Continue reading
There’s an image to which I can’t help but return. It’s one I’ve written about at least twice in the past year and it continues to be something I often contemplate. It’s an image of ruins, and I’m standing in the midst of them. Even so, to say that the ruins represent my life would be a gross exaggeration and wholly inaccurate. My life is demonstrably not in ruins. Quite the contrary, in fact: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and that’s not an exaggeration. In the time that has passed since I came to this country, I’ve built a life for myself according to specifications and desires all my own and, in some ways, it feels like I’ve finally started living. The picture of ruins that often comes to mind represents life before February 25, 2013, the day when my plane first set down in the Republic of Korea, one year ago this week. When I got on the plane in Dallas, I didn’t leave behind a life I ever hope to resume and that sentiment only strengthens with time.
This morning was the first on a day off from work since I came back to Korea a month ago that I didn’t wake up next to someone, and it felt really strange. This weekend is 설날 (“Seolnal”), also known as the Korean New Year or Lunar New Year. Typically, it falls on the second New Moon following the Winter Solstice and is a time when Koreans return to their hometowns to be with their family, eat traditional food, drink soju, celebrate the passage of another year, and perform ancestral rites. The practical effect of this for me is that my boyfriend, who we’ll call DG, won’t be coming to see me until Saturday evening, even though the both of us have a long weekend. He’ll be celebrating with his family in Busan and, as a result, I hope to be forgiven my mild melancholy. Okay, I admit, it’s not that bad. It’s just that it’s cold and it’s nice to be able to snuggle up to someone special when the chill starts to bite, which it does in my sometimes frigid apartment. Continue reading