you can feel the ground grumble right before you see the two headlights pop out from around the corner. as it comes to an abrupt stop, the current cant help but wisp your hair into a hundred dizzying directions. it likes to tease you like this. yet, it's a refreshing feeling, a prompt break from the warm damp air that consumes your pores. the glass doors open and 100 black heads of hair spill into a clutter before you as you struggle to meet the other end of the tangle. you step on just as the door closes to see a mass of arms clinging to the holds from the ceilings. much like racks of meet hang at the slaughter house, the smell isn't much different. deep breath, embrace, and off we go, traveling underground through the veins of the city. it's the pulse -- the blood line pumping people into all directions, oozing them onto the sidewalks above. it's rather relentless in it's prerogative. yet this is not the only blood line existing here, i have one too, one that began long before the subways were even an idea.
it's such a crazy feeling coming...home. i never knew what the huff was about when people would yammer on about the motherland. "the motherland?" i would think. "who really cares, you were born in america, just because your family originated from there doesn't give you the entitlement of calling it your own." oh how wrong i was. when i flew into seoul i looked out my window to see the imperfect rows of specks, dots, and dashes amidst the mountains and my new life that awaited me down there. 35 years ago, my mom looked out of her window to see blue skies and a frontier of possibilities that awaited her in america. regardless of whatever challenges she faced with the clashing of cultures, she did it, she acclimated. i supposed that's been my driving force. i know it'll come, i'll feel the familiar, but it's just a matter of time. i'm enjoying this time right now though. i've still been waiting for my culture shock, but it hasn't happened. i'm here with my people, the people that i so desperately tried to disassociate myself with growing up, all for the sake of being "american." in seoul, we are the majority, we are the minority, we are the rich, we are the beggars, we are the trash men, we are the cooks, we are the prostitutes, we are the athletes, we are the janitors, we are the nannies, the store owners, the delivery boys, the hagglers, the gang members, the saints, the sinners, the everything. it's such a crazy site to see, to come from a community of power dynamics based on race, to one that is not -- to go from a diverse melting pot, to a homogenous brew. i don't know if i like it or if i don't, i haven't really decided yet, it's just different. it's definitely difficult to get anything done because my speaking skills are so horrible. this has allowed me to take a seat and be an observer though, which has been pretty cool. at times it's frustrating, especially since "convenience" is not a tangible thing for me right now. i'm still learning how this society works, a civilization of shopkeepers and districts. here, there are districts. for example, dongdaemun is the fashion/clothing district. you can't really find much else there. the area i live in is a warehouse district, the shops distributes to big stores, so the majority of the shops sell in bulk. in other parts there is a street that sells only fire extinguishers, there's one that only sells pets. it's really fascinating. i see the remnants of the villages from korea's history in this high tech city. interesting as it is, you can understand how this can be a little frustrating.
my friends and i were trying to buy things for our apartments. nothing too crazy, just extention coords, hangers, some clothes, things like that. unfortunately costco was closed when we had hit the streets, so we figured we could just pick them up somewhere else. ha! we spent the majority of the afternoon walking in huge circles looking for a store that sold hangers. we should have been thinking a little harder. remember the word "district"? well, we found a belt area, which turned into a racket area (tennis, badminton), which turned into a pajama area, which then led us to a corner with a store FULL of hangers. i bought a pack of 100 for 20000 won (about $20). as we left the store and turned the corner, there were at least 5 other stores that sold hangers. it was a site to see. regular plastic hangers, big hangers, small hangers, bedazzled hangers, every kind of hanger you could imagine to put your coat, sock, pants on. the only downside about finally finding them: i had to lug a pack of 100 hangers all the way back to my friend's apt, then onto the subway with 2 transfers. that was pretty comical, and yes, it is heavier than it looks.
so it's almost 3:00am on monday morning. i should be sleeping, but i needed to get my apt in order before i could sleep. it's really weird being completely on my own. yeah i have friends around here, but the closest one is 15 minutes on the subway. yeah...no other words to really describe it, just weird. i miss all my friends! i can't wait until i get used to this place because then i'll finally be able to sleep a whole night through, until then, look forward to more early morning delirious posts. cheers!
i have to end on a cute note. these little ones were literally 2.5 ft tall and they were scaling a huge mountain of stairs. they looked like little red ants hobbling up the incline. they would get distracted when we waved and bump into each other...probably not the best thing to distract them, but they were so freaking adorable! (the whole length was probably 5 times this photo, don't know how they did it, i almost died myself).