Living abroad is not romantic.

Thursday morning, October 28, 2010 is the departure date. I leave Seoul, South Korea for good. I arrived August 2007 thinking I’d only stay for a year.

Riding from Hongdae to Seoul Station on the back of a friend’s motorbike on a chilly afternoon today was a highlight, followed by EJ.

I met EJ, an artist-turned-tattoo artist in Hongdae. She is someone I aspire to be – talented, independent, happy, and confident. And extremely funny.

Yes, the economy is very bad and there has been a sharp increase in the number of “foreigners” in South Korea. Yes, it’s very difficult to find an English teaching job in Seoul, unless you’re beautiful/white. Yes, it’s “easy money.” But after three years, there’s a time when money doesn’t matter anymore, but the state of your happiness. Living abroad is certainly not romantic.

7:48 am, Incheon Airport. It’s quiet here. I spent my last hours drinking wine with a friend in Hongdae, watching Mad Men.
A mechanical hand struggles to lift a toy out of a bunch of toys. Yesterday I closed my account, I transferred the rest of my money to the States. I got rid of everything, even things that I had to think twice, three times about.

Three years.

Three years.

I walk away, and the city will always be busy. It will always have natives and foreigners preoccupied with something.

Once an onlooker, curiously looking in, yesterday placed me back there again.

I’m tired. One hour of sleep. I’m used to traveling and coming back to Incheon. I’m going to Ho Chi Minh, the starting point to a journey that will take me across somewhere with no return to Seoul, South Korea.

I don’t know how I feel about this. Nervous, perhaps. Am I really not going back?

You, in Seoul, the natives, foreigners, adoptees, gyopos, queer, activists, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, social workers, self-righteous manipulative and downright backstabbing b*tches and asswipes, the men, women, English teacher, English teacher, English teacher, white man and native woman, white native…the people who’ve made their mark are characters. I wish my Western friends would have gotten a chance to meet them.

This “trip” will be a quiet, observing one. Recently “solitude” couldn’t be distinguished from “loneliness.” I’m already in solitude. A couple in cabana hats walked in front of me. Looks like they’re off to the Philippines?
I’m so tired. One hour of sleep. Am I really not going back?


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