Friday, June 12, 2009

The big goodbye

It's time to say goodbye.

No, not to the blog, dear reader. And also not to my dreams of another baby. But as of next week, Mystery, Eggbert and I will be leaving Korea permanently. I'm feeling a bit strange about it all.

The strangeness comes in waves. Sometimes I feel like it's not really happening. Then I realize that it is, and I just don't know what to do with that information. Am I happy? Am I sad? I'm not sure. For the past several weeks, I've been so focused on the details that I haven't had much time to think about what the move means for me.

There are some things about leaving that are bittersweet. I do feel sad to say goodbye to the city where Eggbert was conceived, born, and lived her first 19 months. It makes me sad that she won't remember our lives in Korea. I'm also worried that she might feel dislocated by the move. She's leaving the only home that she has ever known, going to a place where everybody looks different, the language is different, the food is different, EVERYTHING is different. Mystery, her toys and clothes, and I will be the only familiar things that make the trip. For me, moving back to the USA is a homecoming, but for Eggbert, it's a whole new world. On the other hand, the fact that we're leaving WITH Eggbert is just amazing. We came here a family of two, and are going "home" a family of three. So, in some ways, taking Eggbert to the US feels like a huge triumph.

There are also things about leaving that are just plain sad. I will miss my friends here terribly, as well as my wonderful colleagues. The job that I've been doing way was in many ways one of the best jobs that I could ever hope to have. While it has been challenging in many ways, it has also been an absolute dream in terms of flexibility and everyday working conditions. That is something that I will really miss. I will also miss Korean food, having everyday access to the few amazing palaces and monuments here in Seoul that survived the Japanese occupation, the Korean war, and the frantic wave of modernization that is still sweeping away much of the "old Korea." I'll miss the parks, the Han river, and the funny quirky things about Koreans that make me laugh while at the same time constantly making me question my own expectations and judgments about human behavior. I'll miss feeling safe and secure despite the fact that I live in a metropolitan area with a population of ~20 million.

I won't miss never knowing what on earth is going on. I won't miss the pushing and shoving. I won't miss the fact that strangers almost never smile or make eye contact (unless I'm with Eggbert, in which case everyone is suddenly Miss Congeniality). I won't miss the noise. The smells. The motorcycles driving on the sidewalks and nearly mowing me down. The raw aggression of the drivers. Feeling invisible yet completely exposed at the same time. Squid.

One thing that I do know is that it's time. I may not know how I feel about leaving, but I am ready to go. There are still a few boxes to pack, people to say goodbye to, and details to sort out (many, many details to sort out, alas), but barring major changes between now and then, when the appointed date comes, and we get on that plane, I may feel a bit wistful, but I won't look back.