Written on the Train

According to my countdown program, I have 9 months and 28 days until I return to the US (or at least leave Korea).  For the next 28 days (exactly), I am teaching at English camps (until the 21st of August) and then I have until September 1st, when school starts again.  They may give me that time off, or they may have me “work” in the education office.  I’m hoping for that extra time off, but then again, a side effect of me holding my supervisor to my contract is that she also holds me to my contract, which I think is reasonable, though I do feel that sitting in an office surfing the internet for like 6 hours is still a bit absurd, as it accomplishes nothing except keeping me under her watchful eye.

After the start of school, I only teach for about a week before I get somewhere between 4 and 9 days off for Buddha’s birthday, depending on how generous the education board is feeling.  That puts me at mid-ish September, and then I have a cumulative 4-ish months until winter vacation starts in January (which I’m not sure what they’re having me do during), and about 5 months until my actual vacation starts in February.  I’m considering a few different options for February; New Zealand, Laos, maybe China, Australia, or going back to the US for a bit.  I’m more inclined towards New Zealand/Australia/Washington DC, because I miss being able to hold more than a simple, somewhat halting conversation.  That 5 months is going to be hard, but I went 4.5 months between the last time I saw Marc and now, so I should be able to make it.  6 months is longer than 4.5, but honestly, not by much.  Once you get above a month or so, and especially above 2 months, it all starts to feel the same.

After my vacation, I have only 3 months before I’m finished, and then it’s back to the US to start looking for jobs with Marc, and for places to live.  He has a bit of an advantage over me, as he can start looking starting this school year, but due to time differences, being unable to interview in person, etc, I will likely have to wait until I return to the US, which makes it a bit harder.  We’re looking in Pennsylvania primarily it seems (though we’d love to find something in Vermont), since it’s a relatively blue state, it’s somewhat of a center for reenacting, the housing is cheap, and it has a good mix of rural and urban areas.  It’s one of few states where it’s possible to live in a completely rural area but still be 15-20 minutes from a city of decent size, which is sort of what we’re looking for.  We want rural, but we also don’t really want to sacrifice convenience, either.  It’s difficult, but quite possible, with some perseverance.

Sitting here on the bullet train, I find myself wishing that Marc was napping with his head in my lap or on my shoulder, but that’s something I’m going to have to get used to not having.  Okay, that’s enough sappiness for now.  I’m sure you’re all quite tired of hearing about him.

Seoul was quite interesting as far as a place to visit.  I don’t know much about the city, and it rained at least a little each day.  Our DMZ tour got cancelled, which was a huge disappointment, as Marc is highly unlikely to come to Korea again, and this is really the only place that the public can visit an active warzone.  We also wanted to visit the traditional village (think Colonial Williamsburg for Korea) in Suwon, but since you wander around outside, we didn’t really relish the thought of doing so in the rain for hours.

We ended up going to several markets, which was quite interesting.  The markets are multi-storied, and packed to the gills with stalls (with products often even forming an inadvertant roof in places), and it can get quite crowded and claustrophobic at times, if you’re inclined towards that sort of thing.

Our final day we ended up just hanging around.  We stayed in a hotel in Itaewon, the foreigner district of Seoul, for our time there, and so I wanted to hit up some of the stores (both legit and blackmarket) that tend to sell western products such as English-language books and western groceries.  We had a leisurely morning, then headed out for about an hour to find those stores, grabbed brunch at a Belgian-French (i.e. Wallonian) restaurant named Mignon (French: “cute”), then headed back to the hotel to lounge around in bed, snuggle a bit, and watch movies.  It was a nice, low-key last day, and I think it was what we both needed.  Marc was feeling a bit melancholy (a guy who shows emotions in a relationship, how novel!), as was I, and so being able to spend time being close was good for both of us.  This morning we had a $50 cab ride to the airport, but for only $20 more than the bus costs, it was worth it to not have to schlep our bags everywhere and stress over making the flight.

When I get back to Jindo this afternoon, I have one final night in my apartment, and then tomorrow afternoon I will be schlepping my stuff over to Lisa’s apartment, where I will be living for a week before heading up to Damyang, north of Gwangju, to teach at my teacher’s camp.  I may even just take my bedding and tomorrow’s clothes over there tonight, as I think that being in the same bed that I last slept in with Marc is likely to make me sad, and being in a new environment will help me cope a little bit more.  I do get very nostalgic (I sleep with one of his shirts, for instance), but far less so when I am not surrounded by reminders of what was.

Anyway, this is vastly too long, and I will stop now.  Time to read some of Aftermath, Inc., which Marc left for me so I would have something other than history books and travel narratives to read.

 

Here, have a photo from one of the markets:

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