Letter from Korea, June 2012.
June 28, 2012
Are ye well? I have been doing my best to find the time to write this month’s letter before the month is out for a very good reason. As much as I would like to write about Ireland’s disastrous showing in Euro 2012 and my efforts to watch each game at 4am, there are more important things to note in this month’s letter. The whole of my world as an Irishman in Korea has suddenly changed from its original Hemingway-in-Paris aspirations to an all too realistic situation.
This situation has grounded me. By grounded, I mean it has brought me back down to earth – not that I ever was on earth – as opposed to brought crashing down to earth and never being able to move again. I am now truly realising the sole purpose of all human existence, be they man or woman. We, like every other living thing on this planet seek to procreate, and in my case I’m talking about making other humans, or babies as they are commonly referred to.
And we’ve done it. Or, I should say we’re half way through doing it. Right now Herself is gently nursing our child inside her womb and by the time I’m 31, or not very long after it I will be a father in Korea. As amazing news as this news is, I fear that I shall truly have very few minutes to spare.
I am the second eldest of five sons, and I will be the first to father a child. Our child will be my grandparents first grandchild, and it will make my grandfathers who are both sick with old age great grandfathers. More importantly, I can make all my aunts, uncles, and especially my parents feel really old because from now on they shall be called Grand Aunt or Grand Uncle. The best of these however, is the new Granny and Granda. As much as I want to make fun of my parents, I know that they are delighted and probably as excited as we are about the future. My brothers have already started lobbying for the role of Godfather, but I’m sure they will all be very proud to turn around and I say that they are an uncle.
For myself and Herself, this couldn’t be a more perfect situation. We married four years ago in early June of 2008, and then we travelled around a bit, spending time in Ireland, England, while also travelling to Hong Kong, Turkey, and France, before we returned to Korea because of a lack of job prospects. Since then we’ve been to Japan, Thailand, back to Ireland twice (once for two whole months) and from there we jaunted over to the England and Scotland. The past four years, despite their ups and downs – never between us as we are rock solid – have been amazing. We are so ready for this next step in our lives and so excited for the future of our daily adventure together.
We worry about the future now because we will now be myself, Herself, and +1. We struggle to keep ourselves on our feet, what’s going to happen when we have to do so for one so small they have to be taught how to walk? One of these worries is where to raise our family? Options for raising a family in Korea are limited. While every parent wants the best for their child, they can only do as much as their means provide. When you look at Korea and you consider this perspective you know that you are already putting your child into a highly competitive environment that children do not need to be exposed to.
Myself and Herself grew up in what can only be described as the countryside. I spent my younger years running around fields, chasing cows, breaking stuff, playing football on the green, and generally speaking, being outdoors all the time, or at least a lot of the time. Herself comes from Jumunjin and spent her childhood running around outside and spending time down at the beach or in the fishing port (which may or may not have been a safe environment but let’s leave health and safety laws aside for a moment). Any time we talk about our childhood, we know that we want +1, and any future +s , to have as close an experience to this as we did; a safe environment to play outside with our friends and to learn from our own mistakes.
Sure it’s far from the lifelong networking event held in places like Gangnam and other well to do areas, but both of us still cherish our experiences as children. However, if you look out the window of our apartment and look at the environment +1 could possibly grow up in, you can understand why we are looking for alternatives. A car park is no playground.
Korea will always be a home for our family, but I honestly don’t feel comfortable raising a child here. And even if I did feel comfortable, Herself has seen the alternative and she has made the decision already. Deciding to take action and taking action on this, unfortunately, are two completely different steps. But until that day comes, we shall continue to dote.