Friday, August 2, 2013

Korea: The Vacation

We have been back in Korea for almost six weeks now after nearly three years away.  We depart for home tomorrow evening, so this is really the last day we have here.  I am packing, but also reflecting.  It is very likely we will not be able to return for another two-three years.

Our Korean Family

Most of our time here was devoted to catching up with family and friends who live here. We also spent a disproportionate amount of time and money taking Jeongmin to places to play and have fun and interact with children.

That, and eating all of the deliciousness.  From spicy boiling hot tofu soup to fried green onion pancakes, clear broth noodle soups of various kinds to delicate raw fish, my tummy has had an amazing voyage in reuniting with this country.  Alas, I did not take pictures of it, since it was too delicious to wait to eat to pick up a camera first.  However, it has inspired me to put more Korean dishes back into our family's rotation of food.  So perhaps you will see more of it to come in my kitchen adventures.

It is strange to be a visitor in a place that was home for a long time.  What was most odd and surprising for me was the fact that it really was not at all odd and surprising.  My spatial memory of the downtown area was intact, even as some of the shops/landmarks had changed, and just the routines of daily life didn't feel foreign.  They felt comfortable.  My Korean language skills even came back much faster than I anticipated, considering I have made almost no effort to study since moving the U.S.

This time has been, for the most part, restful and reflective for me.  Our little family spent a good deal of time together.  Min Gi and I have had some awesome conversations when Jeongmin was asleep or otherwise occupied.  I had the chance to spend some good recreational alone time, a luxury I have not experienced much since having Jeongmin.  I also had some special mother-son memories with just the two of us on little adventures here and there while Min Gi was able to catch up with friends.

It has served as a reminder to me that long term, the U.S. is not where I want to live.  I enjoy being American, but I just don't love living there.  I love my current job and our little city of Frederick and our beautiful new (to us) townhouse, but being back in Korea has allowed us to refocus on our five-year goals: 1) complete our family with a second child, and 2) get a job at a DODDS school and/or excellent international private school--right now we're thinking in Asia, but not Korea, for 2-5 years and then settle in Korea (preferably Jeju Island, but really other places will do).

Min Gi has also been inspired to think about his career after full-time parenting is no longer required (kids hit school age).  He has decided that he wants to do something to help disabled children/people.  He's in the process of figuring out how he can do that.

All in all, not the go-go-go adventure I had kind of expected it to be, but a much more laid-back and wonderful experience.

One thing that is hard about straddling two countries in an international marriage: You are always aching for something thousands of miles away.  One thing that is wonderful about it: You are always going home.  So home we will go.

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