Second thoughts.

The students. This weather. My co-teachers, friends and the families I know here. The coffee shops and food and even the fucking department stores.

How am I ever going to make it out of here alive?

Today a load of things happened, which are typical of every one of my weekdays here. Like teaching the older students a joke in English and watching their faces crumble under the force of far too much laughter, for how funny it actually was. Or having the little ones tug on my sleeves and absent-mindedly lay their hands on my arms, or play with my bracelets, while I'm explaining an answer. Answering the phone on my desk with confidence that it's ringing for me -- a co-teacher in the office downstairs wanting to see if I'd like to catch a movie next week.

Going to Bucheon after work to meet my two young and only female 'students' for some seriously epic "μ™•" 돈까슀. Walking through the park after, the little one clinging to my hand, as curious bystanders watch, a little puzzled, but all smiling. Sitting in the coffee shop with one of them after, and having the young mothers allow their little babies to toddle over and climb right up into my lap. Drinking literally the best cup of coffee I've had since setting foot in the ROK, and watching my ten year old companion giggle and squirm as I threatened to go over and shake the hand of the barista who made it, congratulating him on his talent.

And the shopping. Before I came to Korea, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone more anti-consumerism. I'm not proud of it, but wandering through the brilliant department stores on a quiet, well-lit weeknight. Petting the sweaters, lusting over shoes I can't fit into (and even finding some I can) and actually contemplating paying $150 for a bag. The bored employees keeping a respectful, non-frenzied distance for once, in the final hours before closing. The sleekly dressed young salarymen lighting each other's cigarettes on the sidewalk outside, as the sun goes down and the neon starts to flash on up the sides of all the buildings.

Tomorrow I'll teach four lovely classes to shockingly eager and engaged students, go to the new coffee shop to chat with the barista in broken Korean and finish my book, come home and do the laundry, go to bed early so that I can wake up and return to the department store early on Saturday (before the crowds) to pick up a few nice things for the changing weather. Meet two lovely young ladies in Seoul for dinner, clubbing, and no doubt at least a little gossiping.

I don't know, kiddies. Will I make it out in a year? If they make me go, I will. And I'll probably love the next place just as much, with a little time. But this place has been amazing to me. A year is a long time previous to begin pining. I need to get it together. But it's nice to appreciate the things that you have, while you still have them.


Korean-American said...

Despite everything, if you found a man you truly loved, would you be able to walk away from the relationship for reasons that have nothing to do with the man, like, for instance, the prospect of finding new love elsewhere?

I'm no Picasso said...

For another man? No. To move city and be in a place I really wanted to be? Certainly. It's happened more than once, already.

But to make the metaphor more Korea-specific, let me put it this way: I won't be getting married anytime soon. And Korea's a lot less likely to disappear in the meantime than a lover told to wait.

feld_dog said...

um, where did you have that coffee?

I'm no Picasso said...

Haha. A man after my own heart. At a random Starbucks in the Lotte department store in Bucheon. I almost died of happiness.