I don’t like the question ‘So how’s Korea?’
After this post we will return to the usual schedule of amusing anecdotes devoid of serious introspection. Although they will be less frequent as I am homeless, basically, during vacation. My time stateside is dwindling. I get antsier the closer it gets to 4am when we leave for the airport and not, unfortunately, because of excitement. The parents almost got emotional at dinner. They’re empty-nesting. Just don’t make me cry at the airport before 5am, that’s way too early.
I try to be honest in describing ‘how Korea is,’ but end up being completely negative and sarcastic. Everyone must think I hate it. I always make a point to say that there are many things that I like, but never actually name those things. Problem is, things like the radiant optimism that follows a good class, are fragile. Fragile like –let’s begin a bad metaphor– fragile (and sweet) like sugar glass. If the things that make me love being in Korea are sweetly fragile like sugar glass, then the things that reduce me to the shell of a person are like a, uh, Nalgene bottle. I guess.
I’m a bitch and moaner. I admit this. It comes much more natural to me than singing praises.
I’d never been the homesick type before. Had never been away from home for quite as long, but I’m not sure that’s it. I had always operated as if home would be there when I got home, but for the time being I had limited access to some novel location and experience for a limited time. Why waste that wishing to be home since I will go home?
But since my grandmother’s sister got sick, since my mom got sick, home doesn’t feel as dependable as it used to. Sometimes I think none of my feelings in Korea have to do with Korea and everything to do with home. And sometimes I think I use that as an excuse.
I think by virtue of who I am, the question “Is my time in Korea worth while?” would always have been important. The question becomes even more important as the year becomes a year away from my family during a difficult time. I would like to be able to come back and say that I taught my students something. Or that I learned something profound. That it was worth it.
In the shower a phrase came to me –failure to thrive. Like a potted plant that does alright in the dining room, but prefers direct sunlight from the front windows. It isn’t that I’m not living or that I’m not growing, but I think I had high expectations at the beginning that I would thrive. Maybe I’m a little disappointed about that. So I have two options. Find the front window or accept the dining room. There are certainly worse things that merely growing.
I could say a lot more but I should go shower. I will end with a list of good things:
Walking around my town, the city, any city, the island.
The camping trip with the English language club at Kangwon.
My kids. Outside of class.
The lady who runs the gym.
The man at the bus terminal who likes to practice English.
The sun rising over the oreum.
Being able to see the beach every day if I want to.
The kids in town who are not mine who talk to me.
The Pusan International Film Festival.
Being liked by almost everyone for no good reason.