Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living in the small moments.

Naomi and I took a long walk to get ice cream tonight. It was one of those inconsequential nights, nothing too special, just another night like any other might be. We walked across the river, got HELLO!-ed by school-aged kids, had old men invade our personal space.

Truly, little moments like this are so dear. These moments mean so much, but I don't often take notice. They aren't important. They aren't glamorous. They're average. My mind is full of "oh I need to blog about that!" things... I need to tell about this great guesthouse I stayed in, I want to show pictures of that festival, to tell a funny story about what my students said.

But these little moments add up to so much memory. 

We took the long way home from our destination and stopped in at a co-op that sells local produce for extremely reasonable prices. How did I not know those existed over here?? I bought a big ole pumpkin for 2,000 won! It's almost American-sized. Most Korean pumpkins are small and green; this is light orange and about the size of a basketball. There were several others, even larger ones, for 9,000-10,000 won, but this little reject is misshapen and I got a huge discount. (1,000 won is roughly $1) It's a Charlie Brown Pumpkin, but it's OCTOBER now and I am so excited to have a little harvest decor in my apartment by way of this pumpkin. Maybe I'll even carve it up and make a jack-o-lantern closer to Halloween! Mmmm and toast the pumpkin seeds...

As we walked back to our neighborhood, I realized that I want pictures of these little moments. I'm pretty good about taking photos at festivals or temples, the big things that feel adventurous and touristy and over-seas-y. But I don't live in the big moments. I live in the small moments. 

I stopped and did the Heisman with my pumpkin. Naomi took a picture.

We stopped and took a selfie.

I took a picture of Naomi with her box of locally-grown grapes, even though she doesn't like pictures. She grins anyway, cause she knows I want to capture the memory. "I hope you actually look at these in 40 years!" She's a good one.

As we said goodbye and each went to our own apartment, it began to sprinkle. I crossed the road and laughed at a teenage couple. The boy was trying to shield his girlfriend from the light drizzle using a spiral notebook. Hon, that's not gonna do, um, anything. Adorable nonetheless.

I passed a convenience store with an older man drinking a beer at the sidewalk table, still wearing a helmet, though I didn't see a scooter parked nearby.

10 pm and students walked by, still in their school uniforms, finally finished studying at private academies for the night.

Seeing coffee shops close up for the night, pulling down the shades to shield their cute cafe decorations from the night.

I window shopped as I walked past the 20-or-so clothing boutiques that line the road. Bomber jackets. Plaid. Sweaters. Boots. I'm loving the fall lineup.

Watching taxis nearly run over pedestrians in their haste to deliver their passengers, watching people park in places that are not parking spots, watching mothers expertly escort their toddlers through the street without being hit.

Laughing as I read more random English on shop windows.

Waving hello to my usual dry cleaner through his window; he's working away, steaming out a suit.

I got more than a few funny looks as I moseyed up my hill with my big pumpkin.

Noticing the progress on new buildings in the area. Holy smokes that apartment went up quick. Is that going to be a coffee shop around the corner, 200 meters from my building? Please say yes.

I passed another convenience store with a group of men chatting away at the sidewalk table, laughing and drinking Cass and Hite, the two major brands of Korean beer.

It began to rain in earnest as I turned the corner to my apartment. It is October now and it will be chilly soon, but the weather tonight was perfect (to me). There's nothing like a walk in the rain on a warm night. I'm refreshed. I take a moment to recognize how unique this is and be grateful. I'm so thankful. Little moments make a life. It's these small things, these things that aren't glamorous, the things that often drive me crazy. 

These moments flesh out my days. When I think back on my years in Korea, I want to remember more than the big events. I'll remember nights like this, won't I?

Life in Korea isn't always teaching, hiking a new mountain, touring a new temple, taking a new trip. My neighborhood stretches out and bids me goodnight. I'm home.

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