Going there and backDecember 10, 2006
—-as much as I hate to bump the biggest story in smelmoth’s history… here it goes —-
In Korean, it is common practice to be a bit more concise in describing your mobilization than in English. That is, while it is possible to simply say you are “going” somewhere, in certain cases, saying you are “going” somewhere means you aren’t coming back. So, to be clear, you say you are “going and coming back.” When you leave the house, for instance, you say, “I’m going and coming back” and people will say goodbye by saying, “Go and come back well!” (Such locutions have a special history in a country that has witnessed a few million deaths over the past century through war and colonialism).
So, when I tell my friends I’m going to the States for Christmas, I can’t say, “I’m going to the States,” lest they feel the need for a goodbye party. I have to say, “I’m going and coming back.” There’s no confusion… it’s just a short break. And what a welcome break it is.
Granted, in this time when many folks my age are away for the long haul in wartorn Iraq or Afghanistan, it seems a bit minor to get too worked up about being separated. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that the separation has been hard in its own way. Being separated from loved ones you’ve been building a life with for over a decade now is never, ever easy. How much more so when you are more or less alone in a foreign land, working hard, and trying to manage the ins and outs of the simplest tasks day in, day out. So, here I am after 3 1/2 months, only a few days from my return back to my beloved midwestern roots.
Today, I spent the whole day getting ready. Most of my time was devoted to getting presents ready for Christmas. Luckily, it went well. The only sticking point was the young boys. Korea is full of great trinkets for the wee-female ones, but the boys… much harder it seems. Nevertheless, the task is complete and now all that’s left is the ferrying and the wrapping.
Also key to my pre-trip preparations is getting the home cat-ready. I had to do a lot of shopping to find a litter box, litter, food, a bowl and some toys at a reasonable price. But that too is now complete. I only hope that Ling can read the directions that the Japanese litter box folks have so politely provided for her.
So here I am, two and half days to go. I’m very excited to congratulate the Dr., to see my loved ones, and to snuggle with my kitties I’ve been missing so very much. But I’ve also realized something else. No matter how much I love going home, I’m really glad it is only a break. I’m not nearly ready to “go.” It is with a sense of relief that I can tell everyone, “Gattda wa-yo! Gattda wa-yo!” (gattda – I’m going, Gattda-wayo – going and coming back).