April 14, 1997

Pusan, South Korea

Skylark and I headed up to check out PNU and see some of my old haunts. We stopped in Oncheonjang and walked around a bit. Secretly I must have known I would not run into anyone I knew from 10 years before, but my mind raced with the possibilities of seeing Spa Shopping Young-sook. How weird would that be? Walking around Oncheon with Skylark Young-sook and running into Spa Young-sook? No way. But the mere thought of it did funny things in my mind.

We jumped a bus up to Pusan National University main gate. Things in the area had really changed more than I had expected and I didn't recognize my surroundings. I got a little disoriented. Plus, I wanted to stay at least a block away from KHI Institute lest I should happen across Mr. Shin. That would make for an awkward reunion.

Skylark and I continued walking around for a spell, still not recognizing much. I couldn't find my favorite video bistro where I killed countless hours back in 1987. I stopped to look around and gather my bearings on several occasions. At one such moment I was blankly staring at the building in front of me. I was standing in the doorway to a stairwell that went up a few flights. Suddenly, the words written on a sign next to the entrance registered in my brain; it was KHI Institute.

I panicked.

I expect the feelings that came over me at that moment were not unlike those experienced by Chekov when he realized that the ship he and Captain Terrell were on was none other than the SS Botany Bay.

Nothing but three floors separated me from Mr. Shin and certain awkwardness. Wasting no time I successfully ushered us out of there (Chekov and Terrell were not so lucky) and made straightaway for the subway. If I had it to do over again, I might consider going up there to have a look around. That might've made for an interesting chapter. Secretly I had no way of knowing if Shin was still running KHI, or even alive for that matter. But the physical reaction in my gut was enough to tell me to get outta there.

Skylark and I walked silently all the way to the subway station. I remember hearing a song that sampled Madonna's "Holiday" and I thought that was weird. Inside the subway station I sat down against a wall and put my head in my hands. Skylark asked what was the matter. I spoke Korean to her then because I wanted to make sure she understood, and because I could more easily hide behind the words. I told her she could not go with me to Cheju.


Matthew Smith said...

how could you not visit the old 학원? any regrets about that? I know you left on bad terms but by then it was ten years, right? also, curious as to whatever happened to your old place. was your apartment building still there?

White Rice said...

I wish I had gone up there and checked it out. Like I said, that could've made for an interesting story. By now I guess Mr. Shin has prolly passed on to his great reward. His health was not great even in 1987.
Both my old apartment complexes were there. Nothing notable.
If I had more time I would have loved to spend a few days in the area and see what ghosts turned up. As it was, I needed to make it down for the fashion show on the 15th...