In the hopes of making my departure from Korea less of an open, aching wound, I‘ve decided to capture those things which I am happy to bid adieu. In my eyes, this post is quite comparable to the separation fight. What is the separation fight, you ask? (Just ask Andrew-he’ll tell you that I’m exceptionally good at this.) It’s when I pick a fight or let my annoyances get the best of me in order to start emotionally distancing myself even before physical separation occurs. That way, when we finally do leave each other and I’m still nursing the grudge, the distance will be less painful. Yes, I fully realize the dysfunctional qualities of this theory. And as much as it pains me to say this, it doesn’t actually make goodbyes any easier.
That being said, here are a list of things that I hope will make me feel better about leaving.
1) Walking. In normal situations at home, and anywhere else I’ve traveled for that matter, eye signals are key. You know, the one where you and an approaching pedestrian are walking closer and closer and a collision is inevitable if it weren’t for this, look. The one where you first establish eye contact and then glance down. Clearly signaling to the other “Hey, buddy. This is where I’m gonna walk. You, should not walk here.” And then adjustments are made by both parties in sufficient time so no one must stop. Well, in Korea, they like to play chicken. And they always win. In fact, they must think that by signaling with eyes, you are actually inviting them to walk into your path. It’s like they have no concept of trajectory. Maybe if I was ever any good at soccer I would know how to fake them out. But, I never was.
2) Spitting. Everyone spits. Age and gender aside, everyone spits. Big, juicy, loud, clear your throat kind of spitting. And anywhere is fair game-the sidewalk, the market, school, inside the subway. Good thing they are not good at trajectory or I think I would have been spit on many a time.
3) Toilet paper. Toilet paper in Korea is very multipurpose. You are able to find it everywhere. In kitchens as napkins, hanging from bus ceilings, in classrooms serving as kleenex, etc. Before moving there, keeping a roll of it on my kitchen table in order to wipe my mouth didn’t really cross my mind. But now that I’ve seen how many ways it can be used, I’ve realized just how incompletely we’ve been utilizing this great absorbent tool. But…. the one place where it should shine in it’s role, the one place where it was meant to be, it is consistently absent. Korean bathroom stalls. You can use it to your hearts galore in buses, kitchens, or restaurants. But if you forget to grab some before walking into a bathroom, be warned, it won’t be there.
4) Cheese. Yes, there is cheese in Korea. But paying six dollars for four slices of Kraft singles does not make it high quality cheese. .
Well, there you have it. And in case you were wondering, I still miss Korea.