Thursday, February 25, 2010

Miles and miles away

Back in Korea, the biggest gap I feel is not between here and there, but between yesterday and today. It all went swimmingly at first. I took a 14-hour flight, landed at 3 am, showered at the airport, had breakfast at McDonald's and was promptly delivered to my school for an orientation. Then, a man that I think is my boss escorted me around the school before finding out that the orientation was cancelled.

What's interesting about this school is that my boss read even the little things on my resume. That's how it came to be that we stood in what was either the phys ed office or a place where phys ed teachers gather discussing my running exploits. We'd talked a bit about it walking across the schoolyard, but I didn't think much of it until he introduced me as the marathoner and told everyone in the office, "he says the 36-minute 10k is from university. These days he'd be happy to break 40."

Then I was promptly dismissed and landed in an old but massive apartment in northeastern Seoul. Secretly, this is the kind of neighbourhood I've always wanted. The streets ascend at a ridiculous grade into a residential neighbourhood. Most of the buildings here are low-rises of curious shapes and curious roofs. Economically, it might be a decade or two behind the area south of the river, but these hills are probably the only way I can maintain my reputation at work.

I slept all afternoon and evening and woke up at 1, trying to decide if it was 1 am or 1 pm. Once it figured out that it was 1 am, I spent a long time trying to locate my shoes and my wallet. After that, I ate half a box of chocolates and stumbled through half of my copy of Harper's Magazine. Then I realized that life in the '80s isn't all that great, since I don't know if I can find my apartment before sunrise (it's 4 am right now).

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