I'm just back from Daegu for one more Sunday evening with Joanna before she goes home; the impromptu week off is over and I have to get up for work in six hours, but I need to unwind, so...
Six months ago, Joanna invited me to return to Daegu for her Thanksgiving spread, but-- huh-- I'll be working. When I was at LIKE, she and I developed quite a nice little tradition on Sundays, usually dinner, usually ice cream, often both. I needed that one more time. Also, though I said my goodbyes to Emma a few weeks ago, I was delighted at the thought of seeing her one last time. Also, Jesse, though I'll be seeing her again in January, is also one of my favorite people in the Eastern Hemisphere, so...
I caught the KTX bullet train this morning. It's a cold, bright, windy wintry day all over Korea; on the trip down, I saw my first snow on the ground in the last 15 years. Yeah, it took that long for it to look good to me again.
When I got to Daegu, I walked from the station to LIKE and worked out a schedule for me while St. Paul is on winter break: the week after Christmas and two at the end of January. I'll be teaching one-on-ones and small groups and doing videos, all on how to write an independent essay.
Then I walked to my old apartment. I felt I needed to walk around the neighborhood on the one-in-a-million chance that I would find Tiki. I didn't find him for the last three weeks I lived there, and that was nearly three months ago, but I've seen miracles before so I couldn't fail to take the time.
I was absolutely gobsmacked when I got there. My apartment, the landlord's apartment, the egg-shipping business downstairs: all gutted, the window glass removed. The red-and-white striped awning: gone. (For a moment, I wasn't sure I was standing in front of the right place.) The yard where I spent hours and hours waiting for Tiki to show up: impassable, thigh-deep in debris.
Then it was time to meet Jesse and Jo. They were starving and led us to a new pizzeria, where I saw the single best sign I have ever seen in my very long and now widely-traveled life:
So, as Samwise Gamgee said, I'm back. Tug is warming his shaved belly on my lap but it's past time to go to bed. I doubt that I'll ever see Emma or Joanna again; the trip was worth the money, the time, and the fish. Good night, friends.