Thursday, March 24, 2011

Be it ever so (grumble)

My balcony view. The park's noisy in the video because there's a kindergarten class over there; 13 seconds in, you can just make out the Pac-Man Music From Hell. At the end you can see the new apartment buildings. (The music's a lot louder and the buildings a lot more obtrusive in person.)

This little apartment has been my home for a year and a half. I got placed here totally at random; the school assigned apartments to the new teachers, and for whatever reason, this is the one they gave me. I have ten other faculty members (out of fifteen or so colleagues in total) literally within a one-minute walk of me, but no colleagues in my building.

I've been over and over the pros and cons of my apartment, since the day I moved in. It's too small, but I have an alcove for the washer and catbox, and a little balcony. The rooms are tiny, but most of my friends have just one bigger room. Kids play basketball late at night, but it's nice to not feel separated from the community. In nice weather, if I keep my window open everyone in the park can see me clear as day, but Tug has something to look at besides the wall and the inside of his eyelids.

Last summer, I had dibs on the apartment vacated by my colleague Zach, who was moving back to the States. That apartment is easily five times the size of mine and has access to a rooftop terrace; it's also 100 feet from the school. But Nikki, our art teacher, was pregnant and she and Dex and the baby clearly needed the space a lot more than I did, and I wasn't sure I wanted to move anyway.

All through the nice weather, I'm assaulted, hour after hour, by the same four lines of inane Pac-Man music (sometimes at 3 a.m.)  from the park's stationary bikes. Also, I've accumulated just enough stuff that I don't really have space for silly, extraneous belongings such as a broom or a fan.

One thing I've always loved about this apartment is that I'm the only teacher who has a view out of the city and to the mountains to the north and west. I face toward Gwacheon City, four miles to the west along the Yangjae Cheon, and I've taken a lot of comfort from gazing out my window from the seat I'm sitting in right now at the peaceful mountains. I like to watch the sun go down and see the planes moving in their stately way toward Incheon International. It's been wonderful to be in the city but feel almost pastoral.

But before long my mountain view (the only view I have, from the only seat in the apartment) will be completely gone; they're erecting countless high-rise apartments on the other side of the stream. The buildings in progress sit there like the gray stumps of teeth, and the fence they've put up between the building site and the cheon goes on for a solid mile, meaning that there will be dozens of these buildings before they're through, housing thousands of families. Even my long runs to Gwacheon, which I love for the stream and the herons and ducks, will be in the shade of the buildings.

I hate moving, really hate it, and, assuming I keep teaching at Saint Paul, Mr. Park (our boss) only has a finite number of apartments available; all of them have drawbacks of their own. This still feels like home, mostly.

I don't know what I want to do.

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