Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travelogue #57: The End is the Beginning is the End, Part 2 / The Final Living-in-Korea Photologues

"Oh my God," my sister Anna said, her eyes hidden orbs behind windshield-sized sunglasses. We were wandering through an outdoor shopping mall on a crisp, cool October afternoon in suburban Memphis. My smiling parents walked a step or two in front of us. For the first time in over a year, my family was together.

Before my sister had name-checked God, I had made a random comment about how something or other reminded me of...well... "You are that guy," my sister continued, "you're that 'Everything I do reminds me of Korea' guy."

I didn't want to be a that guy. Nobody wants to be a that guy under any circumstance. I wanted to shake my head and protest, but my sister had a point. I had been on American soil for no more than three days, and that's counting the first day which included a jet-lagged hibernation in my bedroom followed by a hazily surreal dinner at Chili's. I was back. But was I really, fully back? Or was I caught in a bad SNL skit, starting every sentence with, "In Korea..."

Later, on a bench in front of Sephora, I saw two Asian women. Like a private eye I pretended not to spy on their conversation while, yes, spying on their conversation, hearing them communicate the unmistakable yo's and creo's that characterize Korean. I reported the news to my mom and my dad and my sister. They were suitably impressed. Minutes later, I somehow forgot I had already told this to Anna, and I told her again. "Okay, Alex," she said with a there-there smile.

And so I'm home. Home-home. Korea is no longer an everyday reality; it's a rich blur of memories bisected by memorable moments I tried to chronicle with purpose in this blog. What I wanted to achieve is a you-are-there intimacy. Nobody wants to read somebody who writes to the tune of, "I did this, I did that, I did this. Whoo-hoo." I didn't want to yell out my experiences; I wanted to share them. And I tried like hell to pull that off.

It's been a rewarding run. I've been humbled by the emails I've recieved, whether they've been from Korean college students, Australians looking to teach English, or Jewish lawyers from New Jersey stumbling upon my blog while searching for Korean soap opera stars. Thank you for reading, whoever you are.

I don't yet know what the future holds for this blog. I'm currently weighing options to apply for creative writing MFA programs. I'm also investigating opportunities to take Spanish classes in Argentina. That means this website might go on a temporary hiatus and return later with a new focus.

In the meantime, I'm off to enjoy a big, green, juicy Granny Smith apple, which reminds me of this one time in Korea...

Just kidding, Anna.Link

Here are the final photologues.



Anonymous said...

Awesome photos and incredible memories. Welcome home, Alex!


YiQi C. said...

There is such a thing as that guy in reference to things linking back to Korea?

How many different that guys are there?

Alex Pollack said...

I guess I meant "that guy" in terms of somebody who travels or lives in any foreign country and returns to the U.S. with a "That reminds me of..." 'tude.

But for the record, there are currently seventeen "that guys" in reference to Korea.