Monday, August 19, 2013

Coming Home

Returning home is always bittersweet.  There’s the dog to snuggle, the boy to love, privacy the dorms at Koroot doesn’t accommodate.  But it’s also a return to daily life.  My visits to Korea always feel like a time of suspended reality, and coming home means bills to pay, classes to attend, floors to vacuum, emails to reply to.

My body always seems to so easily adapt to Korean time, but is reluctant to revert to keeping US daylight hours.  Even after several days in a row of successfully sleeping through the night, waking at a decent hour, last night my body went rogue, and I lay tossing and turning next to Amul who slumbered peacefully.

My body craved the comfort of Halmoni’s house.  I crept downstairs and made a nest of quilts on the floor, but the cold wooden floors of my San Francisco apartment aren’t the soft warmth of ondol, the late night city traffic isn’t the soft hum of Korea’s summer cicadas, the throw pillow from my couch isn’t the heavy weight of Halmoni’s buckwheat pillows.  But for a few precious hours, I could pretend that my mother and sister were asleep beside me on the floor, that an ocean and thousands of miles didn't separate us.

I woke at dawn, folded my quilts and erased any evidence of my late-night attempt to return to Halmoni’s house, ready to face the day’s challenges.  Yet the remembered warmth of that summer night spent surrounded by my Korean family remains with me as I return to the reality of daily life.