So, I had it all planned out on the train ride home from Korean class last night. An extra week's vacation afforded by my generous VP would lend me enough time to make my way back to the States for a week, and still come back in time to serve my "quarantine" without missing any work. At the moment, my baby brother is Stateside, as is my darling S -- these two facts occurring in sync is not something that seems likely to happen again anytime in the near future.
You see, I'd book the flight this morning, fly in on Monday. Ask S to pick me up at the airport. Then, simply, as happened on my first trip home from New York, knock on my family's front door, without the slightest bit of warning.
I like surprising people. People, with cell phones and facebook and twitter and whatnot, don't do enough of that these days.
Unfortunately, the price of last minute flights to DFW brought me quickly back down to earth, as I sat alone in my dark cubicle in the office this morning.
The result has been a day-long homesickness, which has even bled over into missing New York as well.
I had my last adult class this morning. My adult class, for the last two weeks, has consisted of two students' mothers and my head teacher's husband and twelve year old daughter. It's been absolutely lovely. The husband and daughter even came back early from a visit to Halmoni's just to make it in time for our last class. One of the mothers brought in beautifully prepared homemade bin dae duk, with all the fixings, and as we all sat eating after class had finished, we finally had some time just to talk together. Of course, most of the questions centered around my family and my home. When they went to leave, the husband -- a somber retired ajeoshi in his 50s -- mustered his best and bravest English to tell me, "I had a very good experience with you. I will miss you." I made the daughter pinkie promise she'll come visit me in the office, after vacation.
I'm of the opinion that ajeoshi are among the most misunderstood people in all of Korea. They've got an old-world hardness about them that can seem impossible to penetrate at times, and they are definitely easily classified as "rough and tumble". But they've also been among the most surprisingly kind people I've met since I've been here. To break through that hard shell is one of the most rewarding experiences anyone can have.
When my ajeoshi first came to class, he did little besides stare hard ahead and grumble in Korean to his daughter. Great. Exactly what I needed -- 24 teaching hours with The Grinch and a fetus. But, by the end, he was confidently asking brilliant questions, and telling stories about dancing waitresses at a North Korean restaurant in China. I'm a bit upset, because due to this new system, and the fact that a lot of the teachers (since they can now talk to me in Korean) have gotten rather revved up about forcing the VP to start a teachers' class, my adult class might get yanked. And I won't be able to see any of them in the new semester.
Sigh sigh sigh. I was originally just going to talk about the things I miss about New York. I'll list them here, as a sort of non-sequitur:
1. Waking up to my sun-filled apartment, fixing the coffee and climbing out on to the fire escape to drink the first cup, while smoking, in the summer. Particularly, doing this while Iva was in town for a visit.
3. Talking about crude subjects with anyone and everyone.
5. Believing that buying a cup of coffee from Au Bon Pain and sitting on a bench in Union Square was a completely valid plan for an entire day.
6. Street markets overflowing with junk from absolutely every corner of the earth, one on every corner.
7. Brooklyn pizza.
8. Knocking snow off boots before stepping into ______ to meet my friends in the winter.
9. Black people.
10. Talking about art, poetry and philosophy to just about anybody I met.
In other news, I hyperventilated myself into a ridiculous frenzy tonight over a big, fat nothing. Number one thing to remember in coming days: I probably see myself, at this moment in time, as more of an outsider than anybody else does. And boys are never as smooth as they make themselves out to be.