Viewing 2015 Through the Lens of 2014
It’s about noon at the Dunphy house on the east coast of the USA, in sunny but chilly Middletown, New Jersey. Dad just put a small sausage pizza in his NuWave countertop oven and I am writing a blog about it. The pizza from ShopRite was 50% off, which means it will be even more delicious.
Meanwhile, back in Busan and Gimhae, South Korea, 2015 celebrations are well underway. And from here it feels like a dream. Or something long ago. Or something that hasn’t happened yet.
But, it’s something I’ll be back in the midst of in a few days after an 18-day sojourn over several seas. Thus, all the time, sleeping pills, early, early mornings and compromised digestive tracts will need to be calibrated anew. Shit. Maybe a poor choice of words.
This is my first New Year’s being spent at home while still living in Korea. Instead of drinking too much bad Korean beer, sleeping too few hours or thinking some too young girl who just came over from Minnesota/Toronto/Manchester/Cape Town/Sydney/Dublin a month ago wants to make memories with a charming, eligible, 35-year-old writer/wannabe teacher, tonight I’ll hang out with my brother’s family. We’ll devour a shrimp ring, drink a few bad American beers (unless my brother’s packing Molson tonight) and watch the ball drop on Times Square in the living room, perhaps to the dulcet tones of Pitbull, whom I initially wrote as “Bulldog” before realizing that wasn’t right and looking up the picture below.
It’s a fine compromise, especially since I won’t be seeing them again for at least another year.
And this weekend, after my 24-hour-plus journey from Newark to Beijing, to Incheon, to Gimpo and then finally to Gimhae International Airport, then to work for our special 9 a.m. classes with luggage still in tow, all this will begin to feel like the dream, while Korea will again become more and more real.
Everything in English. Driving. Family. Eastern Standard Time and a level of familiarity only decades can create replaced with Korean and whatever mishmash of English Google Translate came up with. Sitting on the bus. Family of a different blood, fourteen hours in the future and a sense of the unknown still palpable after almost two years.
The pictures of happy, intoxicated friends over my Facebook feed remain firmly fixed in some kind of other, like a lifetime ago, when I was a freewheeling college student. Which didn’t really happen as I was far too uptight for that most of the time, a lifetime ago, which might be why I still enjoy this so much and why it all still feels like a fresh adventure.
For now I will eat my ShopRite pizza, write this post and occasionally pick up Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” while 2014 chugs along for another 12 hours. Meanwhile, Busan and Gimhae, South Korea, will continue deeper and deeper into 2015, a dream of something long ago, that hasn’t happened yet.
JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.