I wish I could say I've been writing letters to you during my time away. That would be romantic. But I haven't. I haven't been logging my daily adventures to share with you at a later date, and yes, after nearly 9 months, the adventures are still daily.
I have climbed in mountian mists to later fall in the rain and see frogs at the mountaintop. Jirisan* feels like mothering arms according to any Korean. Weeks of teaching through the golden hour are capped by hikes and train rides. Posing in Seoul Station with a grand piano, my protests pushed aside, "But, Mr. Hong-o-Bong, I DON'T PLAY PIANO" went hand in hand with shouts of "This is PHILADELPHIA! ACTION! ACTION!" subway rides and pigeons in a Temple's Main Hall. And phone calls. "CANDIDA! THIS is Mr. HONGOBONG! HONGOBONG! MR. HONGOBONG! I have Great Idea for you!" phone calls, in which my name has gradually morphed: PAGAN! PAGANICAN! PELICAN! I have GREAT IDEA for YOU!
Opposite weekends on the opposite side of the country are spent in taxis, at japanese resturaunts, and on mountainsides. There is a tiny dog, Yoko, who digs in my hair when she can't find my face, and her owner, who is wonderful. I gave my first tattoo. It's an eye. It floats between a dragonhead and a cloud. Completely sober, he dropped his pants on the street to show it to a friend. "Candida! It's okay! It's only me."
Back home, I have become a regular at the makkoli place, where I go mostly for the 두부 김치 (tofu with kimchi) and company. It seems that they smile at 3 or 4, get nervous at 5 or 6, and stressed at 7 or 8 of us waegooks communaly bemoaning our fate at landing in Gimcheon. Bemoaning isn't quite accurate. It is delightful in many ways. My Busan friend delights in calling me a "Country Girl".
I'm not sure how much time is left here. It was requested that I stay another month. At the time I was unsure. As of late, I am prone to accept the offer. We'll see. Waves of friend-sickness still hit hard. I have dreams of drinking coffee and playing cards on my grandmother's porch with her and my mother in the afternoon. We'll see.
I hope this letter finds you well, wherever you are.
*Jirisan = Jiri Mountain