Twelve months ago I arrived in Busan with two suitcases, a digital camera, a yoga mat, and an aging Toshiba laptop which has since hummed its final weary tune. I flew in alone and woke in a motel in a neighbourhood called Yeonsandong. The streets smelled like fish broth and car exhaust. The women wore heels. I wandered out in search of coffee and napped the jet lag off. I was overseas again. I was out in the world. I felt free, and relieved.
I also found a family. For 12 months, we’ve taught at the same school and lived in the same building. We’ve eaten chimichangas at Taco’s Family in PNU and danced to techno at Maktum. We hiked to the top of Mt. Geumjeong. We slid down the mud slide at Boryeong. I touched the DMZ tunnel walls with Bryan and Dianna and walked among the late-night Hongdae crowds with Leah. We wore rainbow wigs with Ashley and Jason, pinned hearts to our shirts on Halloween, and spent hours talking about Europe and S.E. Asia and Egypt and Indonesia, and all the other places in the world we’ve seen and want to see.
This morning Bryan and Dianna boarded a plane to Tokyo. They will connect to American airlines and fly home for a month before embarking on their next adventure, which will start in Dublin and end nine months later somewhere near Thailand. In seven days Leah, too, will go–Miami first to see her family and friends, and then to London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and countless other cities, arriving in Indonesia sometime around the end of 2011.
The streets are slippery today with rain. I am staying. In the morning I will walk to school, to new faces. I will move my teaching books into Leah’s old desk in the office and start preparing for the week, for taking over the kindergarten students Bryan and Dianna used to teach–Albert and Cooper and Sunny and Min-wook. My life is built on my ability to adapt to change. But I will miss them. I will really miss them.