There are three states of being in Korea. Just got here, staying here forever, and leaving. I'm now in that last category. While I still have quite a bit of time left on my contract, I'm mentally somewhere else already. I'm done with Korea.
Currently, I'm in Philadelphia, a "sister city" of Seoul. These siblings have very little in common, but I'm glad for that. I'm really appreciating America and Philadelphia (the city I grew up in but never owned) for the first time in my life. I find it difficult as a liberal American to have any kind of pride in my country, but right now it's really easy to see all the differences and simple reasons I love it.
Here is a list of a few things I'm loving about Philly.
Pedestrians have the right of way.
I was at a corner waiting to cross the street when I realized that the guy in the cute little jeep wasn't going anywhere until I had safely planted myself on the other side of the road. What a concept!
In Seoul it seems that all drivers have adopted "Move bitch, get out the way" as their driving anthem and general philosophy.
I've said it before, I'll say it again--I love black people. Philly is over 40% black. I'm a black Jew, growing up I didn't quite understand how African Americans or Jews were "minorities". I felt like I must have known every person who was considered a minority. How did that happen? I guess I was lucky. So, my point here is that homogeneous societies can get a little dull after a bit for a girl who's used to a little of this and a little of that. Especially when there are so many good looking black men walking around in summer! It's delicious.
It makes me feel more comfortable to be in a place where I see all different flavors of people, and not just in one area (like Itaewon), but everywhere. What this really has to do with is VARIETY. I want good options and to see all kinds of things and people. At Essene, the health food grocery store, I wander the aisles full of wonder. I can have my pick from 30 different kinds of granola. And this is a beautiful thing.
I can breathe.
You're going to think this sounds crazy, but my lungs feel great! The sky is BLUE. Yes, it's actually a couple different shades of blue.
I actually do like talking to people. I miss chit-chat, particularly with people I don't know.
I got compliments on my earrings from two people today. The woman at the check out at the health food store and my neighbor who is almost done renovating the house he rents. He talked about how the drama with the sale of his other property and how it fell through today.
I went to a cheese store in the Italian Market and had such an experience with the cheeseman, Fred. He handed over a heavenly slice of a cheese named Prima Dona and told me it was named after me. He fed me a dessert made of rigatto cheese with a thick 25 year old basalmic vinegar drizzled over it. I bought olives of all shapes, colors, and sizes. He joked with my mother and I the whole time, informing us of the history of every item. I left the cheese store filled with joy.
I talked to people on the plane, while waiting for my luggage, waiting in line for customs, and in the ladies room. We didn't talk about anything in particular, but it just felt so nice to talk to strangers. To ask questions freely and not have to think so much about how to make my words simple, clear, and slow. I miss chatting like this.
I've spent so much of my life trying to get away from where I came from. This city was dull, slow, and didn't offer enough. I wanted more and I got that from living abroad. When I look back at my archives, I can see just how much I've had the privilege to experience and discover over the past 2 and a half years of living in Korea. And I still want to see more, but I'm getting the feeling that I may, in the end, find that I do actually want to be in my own country. That I do feel more comfortable here, and that the U.S. is one of the best places for me to be, and that all of that is okay.