[Eh, this title is from Patty Griffin – Rain.]
Yesterday was my last Korean class. They had a fun little "graduation" ceremony where our adult class members and all the kids got little certificates. Mine said, "좋은질문장"… a "good-question award", on account of me always bugging the teacher about exact meanings and Chinese roots and characters. Some others got a "hard-working award" or something. The new guy, Dillon, got a "daily improvement" citation. The others were: Joseph, older Steve (whose Korean is better than I first recognized), and Erin. The Korean guy hasn’t come for a few weeks and wasn’t there.
This class was not especially intensive, but the teacher started teaching in Korean, which was challenging. At the least, it reminded me that I need to get back into Korean.
Tuesday will be the last of my religion classes. The Thursday ones ended last Thursday. I felt grieved and lonely as I left my evening class… The new 223 bus schedule had cut off the later routes, depriving me of my direct trip, so I took the trains to 3900 instead. I was distracted from my gloom a bit when I met Brother Reading, the teacher of that evening class, while waiting to change trains. We rode together until my stop.
I got reading my travel journal last week… I started midway through Korea and went through the end. I apparently was rather disturbed by lots of things on that trip… but those disappointments were erased from my mind after leaving. I think I grew quite a lot from the challenges there, and learned a little better how to appreciate those I could not previously respect.
Although the Korean journal wasn’t entirely about her… in large measure, I wrote of my friend there…
…I had no idea I would love her…
…But reading back over my imperfect communication skills and underdeveloped patience… I found our later incompatibility a little more predictable.
I wanted to put up here the last couple pages of my journal… which took a somewhat different tone than the tension earlier in the book…
Ah… >< I was so frustrated…
…Because of her. I see it now.
I needed her to be compatible, and open to the Church, and everything… because I wanted to love her already, even as young as she was, and even during those times that I was forecasting separation… ><
Well, I surely got what I predicted.
As I recall from reading, the weight was just beginning to settle on me… …that I was actually, finally leaving. Hopes aside, who knew when… or if… I would ever see Korea again… or see her again, that new-found jewel of my heart.
I’ll pick up during the descent to L.A.:
[Please note, these pictures are all from 2006.]
2006/08/03 (Thursday)[ . . . ]
(my Korean Air bibimbap) (me with my Korean book)
(a Korean Air stewardess) (the sunrise)
Now it’s midnight, 12:30, and we’re about to land. It’s 8:30 a.m. here in this fake time zone, and 9:30 at home. A nice stewardess noticed my Korean book just now and said something; she’s the one who rearranged my bag overhead, and I got up to do it for her. Another one asked how my bibimbap was, and if it wasn’t spicy. Indeed, not as spicy as on the way to Korea.We’re landing now at 12:57. I wonder if she’s sleeping now.I told her before she left last night that I’d wait for her, see how she and things turned out. But now I think she might fall, like Yiu did, like my sister did, because of no sure foundation.The air isn’t clear here in Los Angeles. We’re driving around; big planes outside. Now we’re parking at 1:07. The pilot just said we were being pulled to the terminal, engines shut off. Either the air here or something else smells funny. Oh . . . we’re not there yet. Now we’re parking at 1:11 a.m., and getting off three minutes later.("Thank you for flying with us")2:11 now, and I just sat down at gate 65 to wait for the "11:24", or 3:24 a.m., departure time for flight 4434, Delta, to Salt Lake. Bunch of nice people, nicely dressed, sitting here. Modest people, old people. We have the second kind in Korea, yes, but otherwise not so many of the first. The few Asians here seem forlorn, out of their element.So, I had a nice time at immigration check and "customs" check, re-submitting my luggage, and walking around to this other building amongst all these English-speakers. What am I doing here . . . I don’t need to learn English. I had everything I needed already, in Korea, Seoul . . . Shillim. I had my tiny room, clothes to wear, money to wash them . . . a beautiful friend to get to know better . . . I had enough money to eat, books enough to study, and scriptures enough to repent with. Ah . . . where . . . is my Bomie? She won’t be coming over tonight . . . not even a possibility to keep me in my room waiting, or to nag on me if I happened to go out somewhere. I should never have missed an appointment with her. I can’t go missing her, crying like this, for very long, that’s for sure. Time to begin to forget those happy times. I was so happy there, amidst all the errors of those people.I gave her the last of my dollars, or I’d buy a drink now. I’ll have to return to that strangeness of drinking out of the tap, soon. I saw just now two guys who look like Jim King [an American pastor I knew in Seoul]. Who knew there were so many white people. There’s a mother and child here; the baby keeps saying "bye-bye" to the planes and things outside. It reminds me of her, somehow; she was so childlike . . . so pure. She didn’t understand the gospel, that’s all. She hadn’t eaten the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. The Church would make an adult of her as much as anything else would.Great . . . the girls here, the women, aren’t wearing any high heels, except for the Asian woman who just went by. How smart of them. And I saw back there a "smoking area"; it was outside, secluded, past some glass doors. What a better idea. And the people here aren’t even all smoking; very few of them. How natural a choice. While my time here lasts, I’ll be grateful for it. But I have to go back.(considerate smokers)I remembered Hedy when I got here, and while watching the introductory film on the plane. [ . . . ]Our plane has come, letting off its passengers. It came about 10 minutes or so ago; it’s 3:06 now. A.M. Shillim is sleeping. Maybe those guys across the hall from me are awake studying, now; maybe 정호 is just getting home. He’d be home by now. Bomie’d be asleep. I think on Tuesday night I saw a cat trying to leave as I came up to the second floor; he ran back in and went and hid in 정호’s wardrobe outside his door, and I took a picture of him. My address there was Room 206, 복마을2길 4-1, 신림2동, 서울시, 한국. Put it all backwards.(the random cat in Jung-ho’s closet)Now they’re loading the luggage and starting to board. It’s 3:14.Here I am in seat 5D, right window; only four seats. I met Elder Takahashi getting on the plane, he just back from Tokyo North; he’s from here [Salt Lake]. We’re leaving at 3:32. We’ve waited for a while on the runway, and now we’re taking off at 3:49. Goodbye, Hedy.
(after boarding) (on the runway)
(en route to Utah) (landing in Salt Lake City)
Touched down at 5:07. I had some peanut-butter crackers and a can of orange juice. The flight was spent watching the beautiful cloud cover, that celestial garden, and taking pictures of the same. There’s some raindrops on the window. Stopped at 5:13. Getting off some minutes later. My mom said she’d send Shane to meet me.Trip’s over. Thank you, Korea.-Steve
Maybe I should…
…never have left. -_-
I could’ve just walked out of that passport line at the Incheon airport… turned around and left… She was still there for a few minutes…
Could’ve just gone back to that dream world, that seemed so very much realer than any of this…
God… please… forgive me, if I was wrong to leave.
I’m really not sure if any of my so-called smiles have been sincere, after leaving Shillim.
Ah, my Shillim…
She’s not there anymore…
But somehow my heart’s still there.
I guess Mongolia might not be the last stamp in my passport after all.
…I have to go back.
(my rooftop sketch of Shillim-dong)
Please, God, watch over my Shillim.
…And watch over that… jewel… that has fallen out of my heart, and is lost to me.
Let her be found and treasured again. Let her paths be straight; let the clouds in her life not be too dark. Let my every teardrop call a blessing down to her.
Give her, please, the faith I could not give her. I am not her support now… but be thou, God, her everlasting friend… and hold up those who are dear to her.
I ask it in Jesus Christ’s name.