In between what often feels like long stretches of isolation and endurance, I realized the bad is not so bad or so long.
Since I bought a car, I’ve regained a sense of freedom that floated away at the beginning of COVID along with a number of other things and have been inspired to think back upon my time here.
I’ve known such joy and also such disappointment, betrayal, wonder, confusion, excitement, and disbelief. I have been tested and squeezed and stretched to limits I didn’t know I had.
I miss my Seoul uni friends and our time together so much my whole chest aches.
Kang Ho Joon, the faithful security guard, was so kind to me at the elementary school. I imagine what he’d say if I went back to visit.
“Hello!” I’d say and bow deeply.
He would gasp in delighted shock then emerge from the security hut to ask where I live now and what I’ve been doing.
I’d ask C to meet me out front for coffee, and say hi to the subject teachers, even the man. Our tea times were something special, after all. I wonder how part time guitar teacher is doing and if I’ll ever run into him and his pretty, delicate hands again.
Maybe I’d see a former student. And maybe they wouldn’t remember me— save Jeongyeon and my daycare boy, I don’t think they could forget. I got so close to those students and now I don’t know a single unmasked face of my current 500.
If I took a walk around the neighborhood, would I see that lone chicken? H is pregnant with another baby, I’d have to visit her too. Obviously I’d meet S after school for dinner with her son.
There were tough times in Seoul, really tough times, but when I think about it now my body only remembers the good.
The Chinese market with cheap hot pot ingredients; having picnics with my classmates; sneaking into the school gym for free; shopping at the massive flea market; finding a Korean American at a local tap house; asking the local whiskey pub bartender for help with my homework; seeing commercials shot at the shopping complex every other week; riding line 2 over the river at sunset; eating chicken nuggets at 3am on Halloween night with a guy in a dinosaur costume; the excellent thrift store near school whose owner always gave me tea; the little mountain I could hike in a dress; eating fried chicken gizzards and drinking tankards of cheap draft beer in old Seoul; getting an autograph from a handsome actor in a musical.
I feel this way because I feel corona finally rounding a corner, however misguided that may be. I see the light. True freedom is near and my soul has been ready for months.