it has begun. all the packing, goodbyes, last meals, and checklists are suddenly so immediate. i’ve hardly had time to stop, reflect, and soak it all in. some things have been harder than i thought they would be; some things, easier. we’re making as many memories as we can, storing them up for the strange days ahead when we are all scattered across the globe. there was a girls night that was full of great laughs and honest conversations, along with a “lad’s night out” for david and his good buddies. there’s been so much madmen viewing i’ve started dreaming that i’m a part of the show, and we had a going away party at the first alleway that was full of greasy pizzas and some of our favorite people.
i stood in my classroom at mudeung elementary last friday, doing a little organizing and cleaning. i was all alone in the big, cold room. i paused and stood near the desk at the front, where i’ve stood every week for the past year and a half. i wanted to take a moment to have some sort of closure. i wanted to see if i felt anything resembling sadness. i closed my eyes, and tried to clear my head. here was the first thought that materialized: “this was the hardest thing i have ever done.” period. i can’t even begin to put into words how grating, how frustrating, how demeaning the job was. but it’s over now, and i am ready to move on. and i am not sad.
there was another moment, last friday night, when we were going to make dinner and watch madmen at angie’s apartment. it was a mundane moment; sarah stood at the sink washing vegetables. david was making little falafel patties near the frying pan. angie was on the phone with adam, leaning on the washing machine, laughing about his teacher’s dinner. i sat on a chair in this little kitchen, taking it all in. thinking this is the best stuff – the friendships that are so comfortable you can do the most simple tasks together and feel like family. you can be in each other’s space, in each other’s sinks and fridges and homes, and it feels like a second home to you. it’s rare to find this, and becomes even more rare as you get older, as you move, as you build families of your own. but i hope, with these few, we’ll always be that kind of friends.
david and i have been trying to do all our favorite things before we go. we all ate at our “favorite grill” on sunday night – adam, angie, sarah, david, and me. it was perfect. monday, david and i ventured out to the chinese restaurant that is an hour away from our apartment. it’s worth it though, for the deep-fried pork and the yummy egg-drop soup. tuesday, we went to firenze, our favorite little italian place. wednesday, we ate out at the “all you can eat” grill with sarah, and ate waaay too much, as required.
yesterday, david and i also walked through chonnam university’s campus. we had one last walk around the chaotic track, and we sat on rocks by the small pond. we watched a duck dive again and again looking for food, and i tried to memorize every detail. it’s strange to think i may never come here again. it’s been an odd place to live, but after living here for so long, it morphs into a familiarity, a home, and it’s sad to think that all these streets, all these shops and sidewalks and sounds and smells may disappear forever from me.