Thursday, May 7, 2009

Parting is not such sweet sorrow

I've always hated, hated, hated goodbyes. I hate goodbyes to people, to places... heck, to tv shows for that matter. I still get a little choked up thinking about the last chapter of "House at Pooh Corner", and I read that 50 years ago. I've come to realize that all this has to do with fear. Marianne Williamson says everything we feel comes from either fear or love, and I think she's right... I've been doing much better than ever before with letting go, with accepting that everyone and everything comes into our lives and leaves again. I've been cool, really.

But now, I'm feeling just a tinge of sadness... you know, the kind you get with the first cold rain in the fall, when the gutters start to pile up with leaves? I'm more than two-thirds of the way through my contract at LIKE. I have my next year's job lined up--sent back the signed contract and all. It's at the posh prep school in the Seoul suburb of Bundang that I got an offer from last year, eight hours too late. It's more money, more challenge, a real career-type job (Monday through Friday! Daytimes!) Maybe even a chance to transfer to Europe in the future... but I digress. (When do I not?)

Anyway, the autumnal precipitation metaphor has to do with having to say goodbye to my friends, and surprisingly, to Daegu. Hagwon (supplementary academy) jobs are revolving doors; very few people stay at a particular school for over a year. I've know all along I'd have to say goodbye pretty soon to my new friends. The fact that Ray's going back to the States in about two months is bringing it home. At any rate, the fact that my friends will be rotating out somewhat obviates any sadness over my going to Bundang.

But... for the longest time, I had no real use for Daegu, which I've thought of as Korea's Cleveland... no RnR HoF, though. It's a big, polluted city known mostly for industry. No Americans come here unless they're in the Army or teaching; there's nothing in town to draw tourists. (Actually, the capital is the country's seoul attraction.) I didn't know anyone, any places, or much of anything. But in the last few months, making friends like the ones I see in the writer's group and learning my way around a lot better have changed the way I feel. Seeing DJ the restaurant owner on the footbridge and having him greet me by name (which I wrote about a couple of entries ago) left me nonplussed, or at least only minimally plussed, but it felt really good. I'm somebody to somebody in Daegu.

Daegu has slowly become manageable and liveable for me. I know the stores and theaters and buses and subway lines (and the ballpark!) and have a feel for the people. It's hard to believe that a native of Ithaca and longtime St. Augustine resident could find a city of two and a half million cozy, but I kinda do. The city's planted thousands of trees in recent years and is working hard to make itself a good place to live, and I never thought I'd say it, but I'll miss it.

Speaking of goodbyes... this is going to sound morbid, and I don't mean it to-- I don't feel morbid-- but just recently it's begun to hit home that one day I'll die. I mean, duh, we all know that we'll die, but somehow I've just started to feel that it's real, it's not going to happen to some nebulous not-really-me, that I'm actually going to be there when it happens. And how will the Earth ever get along without me?

Yeah, I'm enlightened, I'm cool, I'm detached. Goodbyes still suck.

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