South Korea, part 2

“The craziest thing about Korea is that it’s not really that crazy.”

I land in Korea and after a moment of terror during which I realize that I brought two bottles of beer to share with Meghan and the maximum allowable duty-free amount is one (they don’t check), I emerge from a sliding door into the area where Meghan awaits me, messy romance Meghan with her plaid shirt and her Mona Lisa smile hiding acres of entranced drama, where we embrace and move on.  She’s altogether the same as I remember but with a preponderance of Korean life-accessories.  A Korean apartment and a Korean shower.

Koreans believe that a fan, left on in a closed room, will cause a vortex resulting in an absence of oxygen and the asphyxiation of the room’s residents.  The Korean Consumer Protection Board has publicly listed fan asphyxiation as one of the most common seasonal summer accidents or injuries.

Meghan has one of the few fans in Korea sold without a precautionary built-in timer .  Meghan still has photo booth pictures of her and I kissing on her wall.  Meghan has a Korean boyfriend.

“She’s I-don’t-know girl.”  – Greg Larson.

Meghan used to say she liked how I was happy with where I was in life.  That even though I didn’t have the greatest job and wanted to do more, I accepted what I was doing and made the best of it.  That she wished she was able to be happy with what she was doing, rather than obsess about what she should be doing.  That always made me feel kind of dumb, despite the sentiment.  But I think it says more about what she thinks of herself.

We will always have our differences.  Times together are pleasant but also full of longing.  She frustrates me.  But I will always look at that stoic, teacherly smile masking those pale planes of despairing cheek and want to dive in, burning myself however deeply trying to solve them.  To save them.

Nights in Seoul are full of life.  Brash colors shine down from all angles, bars on the 5th floor of a building filled with 10 difference kinds of store and restaurant blare their Korean pop, daring you to venture down another identical alley-street – but once you go inside, the experience is something kind of uncanny.  An Alice In Wonderland themed bar/nightclub features employees (male and female) wearing bunny-ears and clientele crouched in plastic “caves.”  A Earl’s-esque Westerner’s bar blares dancey American pop as foreigners look for a connection.  There are no limes in Korea.  Vodka tonics and tequila shots come with lemons.

But tonight is about the fact that, when we’re wandering up an alley looking for a bar called “O.I.” or “Oi!” , we run into the Korean boyfriend (Dean) who quickly steps in between Meghan and I to kiss her on the cheek and then who stands quietly aside (James Dean?) as we all stare at one another and then part ways again.  He promises to call, which occurs 6 hours later when we’re standing outside, eating sausage (Jimmy Dean?) and looking for a cab home.  He’s upset that he hasn’t seen Meghan.  Understandable.

It’s none of my business.  I will enjoy Korea regardless of this man.  But it makes me think, who am I and what am I doing here?

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