The Anti-Climax

1987 in South Korea

Saturday November 7
Having arrived in Seoul around mid-day, the first order of business was to find a cheap place to spend the night. We grabbed a small room with a floor to share near the station and headed immediately for the airline office to pick up and pay for my ticket. While so many things could have gone wrong with that whole procedure, all was smooth sailing and after parting with most of my remaining cash, I had my ticket in hand.

We went to Itaewon and shopped. I picked up some black Eel Skin dress shoes that I had ordered on our last trip to Seoul. I was really psyched about them at the time, but I quickly realized they were way too small, a tad cliché, and ugly to boot. We loaded up on other trinkets and trash. We wandered around in a state of giddiness combined with trepidation. We were excited to be heading home, but there was a nagging fear in my head that something would prevent me from leaving. My mind ran through the many scenarios by which Mr. or Mrs. Shin had stopped by on Saturday to check on me, or check that Brian left without issue, and found me gone too. I imagined they then called the airlines, called immigrations, called I don't know whom. But I was on a contract and I imagined they had legal recourse against me disappearing. And I knew Shin was not afraid to use any means possible to protect his language institute.

Perhaps that nagging worry drove me to the Post Office to carry out one of my last acts in Seoul. I have no recollection of doing it, but in January 1988 I wrote in my journal that on that last day in Seoul I "wrote to Mr. Shin and to SamChullyHo to clarify." I have no idea if they ever received those letters, or how they might have reacted to them, or what the letters actually said.

Sunday November 8
We got up early and humped our heavy luggage out to Kimpo. Nobody was waiting there for me. Nobody to grab me up and send me back to Busan. Without ceremony Brian and I boarded for LA and bade farewell to the Land of the Morning Calm.


Anonymous said...

one must wonder what was in that letter you sent. more importantly, it makes one wonder why we remember the things we do. like, why remember those gaudy shoes but not a letter? very interesting.

glad to hear that there were no strong men waiting for you at the airport ^^

MKM said...

Ah, I think you didn't really send a letter but just wrote that you did! That's why you remember the shoes (real) but not what you wrote in a letter (not real). That's how memories work. Um. Sometimes, anyway.

Anyway, I love reading this! I was here for the first time in '97 but I keep expecting to walk around a corner in your blog and see myself sitting somewhere. Very French Blue, White, Red of me but ... you know. In some ways Korea was smaller then I think.


White Rice said...

Interesting comments both (thanks for reading and commenting). I more easily recall the shoes because I painfully jammed my feet into them hoping they would stretch for at least a year after returning home. The letter? No recollection. None. It is like me to have been dramatic in my journal, but not so like me to have made something like that up. (I think.) I might reach out to Brian and see if he remembers anything.
What I do remember well is the "why?" of me leaving when and as I did...