Tonight is beautiful. Warm enough to not wear a jacket, but enough wind to keep me cool on the walk from the bus stop as I head towards the climbing gym.. I pass the infamous chicken-and-beer restaurant where we sometimes end up after a night of climbing, and I wave to the women who run the place as they flash smiles in return. I remember when one of them shared her family portraits with us. The hanboks she and her daughter wore were gorgeous.
I haven’t been in two weeks (May has always been my favorite month, and this one does not disappoint!), but when I show up, I haven’t missed a beat.
The gym is crowded–it’s after 8, and 8 is the unofficial time when everyone meanders in. As I step through the glass door, Seokju’s face lights up, and little Sincheon offers his regular “Oh, hi-eeeee!!” as he snaps to attention and throws his hand in the air in a half-salute-half-wave.
I will miss that kid so much. From his “blah blah blah blah!”s to his antics swinging from holds and wildly kicking the air, he always makes me smile. Tonight, he mimics George of the Jungle as he swings from the suspended pull-up bar, trying to land in a taped square on the floor without falling over. Before we leave, we look through some cartoons off the internet and giggle together like the two little kids we are.
Song-in and Mijeong are missing, but then again, they usually don’t come on Wednesdays anyways.
People ask where I’ve been, and I respond, “Lots of work! Lots of studying!” and revel in my use of three whole Korean words.
At one point, Seokju tries to close the window, muttering that it’s too cold. Then I get excited, because who can’t recognize the word for “cold” after our vicious winter!
I run up to him and grin, “AHN-chua! (it’s NOT cold!)” So he leaves the window open. Hah!
Then in a flash of genius, I remember another word.
“Param an-jo-eye-yo?” (you don’t like wind? the What? come on, man! was implied 🙂 )
Then in typical fashion, he assumes I’m actually conversational and rattles off a sentence, smiling sheepishly. I assume he’s complaining about the cold, so I smile a retort and run away, back towards the climbing wall. I’m fairly certain I responded just fine. Flirting is somewhat universal, yes?
I inform both Seokju and Sincheon that I’ll be leaving in August. Very sad. I want to take them with me.
After my weakened fingers can no longer grip the holds, I start out for home.
The weather is so perfect, I’m not disappointed when I miss my bus by two seconds. I only half-heartedly ran to catch it, anyways. In my skirt and kitten heels, I set out on the hour-long walk.
I pass a couple of fields, growing things that will probably end up in those endless side dishes they give you at restaurants.
A constant line of flowerbeds separates the sidewalk from the road, making me blissful and dreamy. I gaze out over the fields as I walk past, over to the city lights and ever-present high-rise apartment buildings.
Yes, I will miss this place. I am counting down the days until I land back on the piece of earth I call home, but I can almost guarantee I will be at least a touch homesick in six months.
I’ll come back, I promise myself. I have to come back. If only to see how Sincheon grows up.
Incheon will always be dear to me. Even if it did try to start raining on me in my snazzy work outfit when I’m only halfway home.
Mhm. At the rate I leave pieces of my heart with people and places in my life, I won’t have enough of it left to make it past 45.
And it’ll be totally worth it.