Only about a month ago–I actually have no idea how long it’s been– I moved out of my on-campus dormitory room into a real apartment of my own.
Tomorrow, I will leave that apartment and move to a different one, closer to the downtown area, away from the little neighborhood I’ve come to know fairly well over the past year.
I can’t say I regret leaving the apartment. It’s a good place, but I never really felt like it fit me. No complaints, though. It’s an apartment, it’s space of my own, away from work, and I’ve been grateful for it.
The new place, though, is on the tenth floor of a true Korean high-rise apartment building–and, if sources are to be trusted, I will have a View. Which incorporates the river and farmland as well as cityscape. Here, my bedroom window looks across the street into other people’s apartments.
(They are very boring. They watch a lot of TV.)
No, I will not miss this apartment, particularly; the water pressure in the shower head is so weak that I practically have to crawl into the sink to use it, and there’s almost no natural light. But I will miss the neighborhood of Taejeon-dong. It’s almost perfect. It has the feel of a small town, but it’s only just over the river from the heart of the city. There is a multiplicity of decent samgyepsal restaurants, running trails, corner stores, and coffee shops–not to mention the Baskin Robbins across the intersection. And a bank. And a post office. On nice days the ajummas all gather to sit on the curb across from the convenience store, next to the cart that sells red bean fish cakes and crispy thin waffles that are not nearly as good as they smell. They gossip and giggle and scowl together, and if, when you catch them staring, you smile and bow and murmur ‘anyeong haseyo’ they grin and chatter to each other in approval or amusement. Old men walk the pavement, stopping outside the fried chicken stands, hands clasped behind their backs, moving deliberately in that trademark ajoshi strut, and always, swarms of little boys and girls chase each other up and down and in and out. I’ve never heard a police siren.
It’s been easy to get to know this little slice of Korea, and I suppose right now I’m trying to psych myself up for the change that will begin, whether I like it or not, at 10 a.m. tomorrow, when the moving van arrives.
New adventures don’t conform. They just happen. And you make of them what you will. Getting to know this new part of the city will be just that: finding new routines and regular spots, enduring the stares of strangers again, learning to love where I am. This time, with a view of the river.