Counting them down...but determined to make them count.

I’m keeping myself above water…barely. I know it will get better once the first month is over, that first push and as long as they don’t switch my classes on me…well one class really….it’ll be busy but manageable. Right now though, I’m still pulling 10, sometimes 12 hour days and with my living situation going the way it seems to be, I’m curious to see how much longer I’ll be able to simply breathe and smile. Signing a 3-month contract to work in one of the richest areas in Southeast Asia is not conducive to living on ones own apparently. And with entire families living together in studios being something of the norm here, I’m wondering just how small a space I’m going to be asked to share with another human being.
10 more weeks baby. I can do this.
It truly is amazing though….this sense of unlimited possibility. Walking through Gangnam on Saturday night with a new crew, full of Korean food and half-cut from the soju...I felt like I’d been dropped into organized chaos and was somehow standing still. It hit me, as it has more then a few times since returning, how there are times it feels as though I never left, and how excited I am to be a part of the headstrong intensity that, for me, is Seoul. This crazy, amazing, place. Walking to work through the side streets that snake through this neighborhood, smelling coffee, bread, garbage and the breeze that washes it all away. I’m smiling so much these days. It takes my breath away how very very different it feels this time around. There are reasons, many, some obvious, others more elusive. And I don’t mind those reasons, the elusive ones. That’s something new for me, just letting something be without needing to understand every detail, having faith that I will know and understand when I need to. When I’m supposed to.

Having made the decision to try and make my home as stress free as possible this summer, I have taken to either prepping for class at the school or spread out in a booth at a coffee shop close to where I’m living. It’s small, has amazing vanilla lattes and they play Miles Davis. I almost prefer it to the cockroach-infested apartment I’m currently calling home. Almost.

I was there on Sunday and was tapping my feet as Miles preluded to a kiss, when the ground began to shake and a loud roaring sound began to pierce the vanilla scented air around me. Before I had time to duck and cover I watched as 12 Harley Davidson’s pulled into the side street and thundered by the window I was gazing out of only moments before. One by one, their owners turned off the motors and dismounted, cigarettes appearing in their hands before the exhaust had cleared. Straddling chairs on the small wooden patio, they sipped frothy cappuccinos and iced coffees, while smoking Marlboros and spitting through the railings onto the street. They swung the windows connecting the coffee shop to the outside patio wide open and I could hear their laughter, male voices raised in good spirits. I could see the Harley Davidson logo emblazoned on the back of one of the jackets and on the sleeve of the same one, “Korea Chapter” sewn on with heavy black thread. In the background, Miles kept on playing. I took out my camera and aimed it out the open window. It was impossible to get all the bikes in one shot so I settled for what I could fit into the frame and was just putting my camera away when one of the bikers leaned in the window towards me and, smiling, politely, in broken English, asked me if I would like to go for a ride.

I smiled, almost laughed. Not at him of course, but at the idea that if I wanted to, I could. Unlimited possibility. Zipping through Seoul traffic, black leather and shiny silver.

I smiled and thanked him but shook my head. I gestured to the clutter of books and papers in front of me and shrugged. He smiled back, stood up, and the tattooed, leather and denim clad biker bowed to me before returning to his table of friends.

I went up to the counter to order another coffee. I had a feeling I was going to be there for a while. A wave of homesickness hit me as I heard the familiar sound of the barista steaming milk for my coffee.
It passed.


Vivian said…
what a funny story!! definitely a "only-in-Korea" moment, right?!

sounds like you're having a fantastic time, so happy to hear that. so, the second time is good, right?! i admire you for doing this on your own.

i think i might have another year in me.
brat9 said…
love it steph. totally shoulda gone on the ride... haha
Anonymous said…
pictures are great ....
thanks for sharing....

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