Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, we're movin' on up...

From the Writers' Group: Cliff, me, Emma, Justin.
The LIKE gang: Molly, me, Luke, Joanna, Jesse.

It's moving day!

My ride is supposedly coming at 10, and I should be in Seoul by 2. Theoretically, of course. I set my alarm for the disgustingly early hour of 6 a.m., which actually is about when I've consistently been getting up anyway. I woke up, however at the surreally disgustingly early hour of 4 on the dot. It's still not light out and I'm sucking down coffee prior to packing the last items and :: gulp:: cleaning and decathairing the apartment.

I've had a busy round of goodbyes: Joelle, who's now in Cambodia, at breakfast on Friday, followed by my last day at school; Raymond at lunch and the whole LIKE gang, nine of us, at dinner on Saturday, people from the Writers' Group for a spirited Eat Poop You Cat game (with a very welcome drop-in goodbye visit from my LIKE friends) on Sunday.

Being a teacher over here is kind of like going to college, compacted into one year: you arrive all wide-eyed and marveling, you make friends, soon you're the grizzled (quite literally, in my case) veteran, and before you know it, it's time to say goodbye. In a month, Joelle will be in Egypt, Cliff in the Phillipines, Emma in New Zealand, Luke in Idaho, and I, more than likely, lost in a subway system whose map looks like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And now, as W.C. Fields said, "Once in every man's life he has to take the bull by the tail and face the situation." Time to move. Ladies and gentlemen, meet my new employer, St. Paul Preparatory Academy (henceforth known as "SPPA" or "St. Paul").

But first: Daegu, my third home, or fourth, if you count Ann Arbor for my year at the U of M. (Do you?)

I never would have believed 358 days ago that I would look at this huge, sprawling, industrialized, polluted place with fondness. But I do. I'll miss the clean subways, the Samsung Lions, and Donghwasa Temple at Palgonsan. The municipal government has put many millions of dollars (which is quazillions of Won) into beautifying this place with landscaping, parks, and trees by the thousands, all in preparation for their coming-out party, the world track championships in 2011, which they've been promoting since before I got here. They want to turn Daegu (which I had never heard of 400 days ago) into an important world city, Cleveland into Chicago, perhaps.

More important to me, of course, is the experiences I've had and the people I'll miss, whom I won't name here for fear of leaving somebody out... except for Tiki. I have a sense of deepest sadness over my funny, playful, frightened buddy, the only cat I've ever known who would play fetch, nip me on the chin while I tried to sleep... or pop out a screen and jump down 15 feet to run from a stranger. It's not okay and it won't ever be okay that he's lost and suffering or dead. Just typing this, I'm crying (a few strong, manly tears) for the first time since he left. Don't tell anyone.

But now it's time to move on up to the second-most populous metro area in the world, new adventures, new vistas, new opportunities to be bewildered. There's last-minute stuff to be thrown into boxes, counters to wipe down and a floor to sweep, and a Rum Tum Tugger to stuff into a carrier.

Time to make the donuts. Sadly, that's just a metaphor.

See you from Seoul!

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