I continued to dismiss you through several more visits as a fun place to visit, but a rotten place to live. Sure, I knew you had great food and good shopping. I knew you had wonderful museums and beautiful sites. I even partook of some of your great festivals. I loved it when you sent your swing dancers down to more provincial Daegu, as they had grown exceptional from your nightly dancing options.
However, I've come to realize, my dear Seoul, that my hatred of you was like hatred of anything in life--based on ignorance and insecurity (or fear). I have largely defeated my ignorance of both Korea and you, finally coming to understand your complicated subway lines and orient myself in some of the areas that are full of interesting sites. So all that remained was my own insecurity. And these are largely the same insecurities I have experienced about large cities my whole life.
You see, I am very uncomfortable in cities. Although I love cultural features available exclusively to city dwellers, such as live theater and swing dancing, I prefer to be surrounded by nature--water, trees, mountains. I get confused easily in crowded areas with lots of buildings that all look the same to me (though I immediately know if I've walked past a particular group of trees or stream before, even if many years have passed). Furthermore, I am nervous around city folk. They are suave and know about things like fashion and social climbing--things that I have no talent for understanding. I feel like I won't be able to make friends. That I'll be condemned to repeat the socially awkward teenage years of the introverted nerd that I really am deep down.
But the thing is, lovely city, this was based on a ridiculous assumption of my own extreme social failure. I made plenty of friends this weekend--and connected with many more I'd met at previous swing events. Even people with whom I can barely communicate hugged me as I departed Sunday night.
So you see, Seoul, I still don't want to live with you--truth is, if I did, I'd be fat and broke from your delicious food and sad so far from natural surroundings--but I can see now why people, even sane ones, might enjoy life within your bounds. Thank you for helping me to understand that I'm finally confident enough in myself to live anywhere in the world--even in a big city.
With great love and appreciation,
A swing dancer