Eun Jeong had to do some stuff at work early in the morning Saturday, but she was back by 10 AM. We finished the leftover Thai food and finished packing.Bongo Ajossi’s doppelganger showed up thirty minutes early. We lugged “The Tank” refrigerator down the stairs. Our nice attractive landlady helped us load the truck. When we were finished, she bought all of us popsicles. I asked her if she could be our landlady at the new place.
The truck was much more loaded than when I first moved to Sillim. We made a brief stop at Eun Jeong’s old apartment, where a friend gave us her collapsible clothing rack.
The girl in my new apartment had not completely moved out, but she didn’t have much to pack. It was still chaos unloading the truck while she packed her clothes in one corner of the apartment. She wasn’t staying in the apartment anymore, but she didn’t have any place to put her stuff until the next day.
The apartment itself was a bit of a disappointment. To Eun Jeong, it was tragic. It’s a basement apartment, and it smells like a basement apartment. It’s musty and damp. And for some strange reason, the walls and ceilings are wallpapered. Doesn’t make sense in a damp environment.
I personally don’t mind living in a basement apartment, which I have dubbed “The BatCave.” I lived in a basement room in Germany, and I actually liked it. The winter was tough, though, and I’m not looking forward to that.
Another small annoyance is that I still have not gotten an apartment that is free of children. My first apartment in Handae-ap was across from a kindergarten. My landlady’s kids in Sillim were constantly running up and down the stairs screaming. Now my basement apartment is adjacent to a playground. Twice already I have seen kids peering near my bedroom window.
After everyone had left, Eun Jeong broke down and cried. She really hated the place. I felt it was a major step up from the tiny noisy studio apartment in Sillim. This may be a basement apartment, but it does have a nice sized kitchen and a separate living area. I also have my own washing machine now, and I can have a garden outside if I so choose.
We immediately started work cleaning the place, and we scrubbed, bleached, papered, degreased, disinfected until 2 AM. We went to sleep and got back to cleaning in the morning. During this time, I was trying to get Eun Jeong’s spirits up about the place because she was bringing me down too. She actually became angry at my positive attitude.
I’ve come up with some solutions to the basic problems. The big one is to get the school to buy a dehumidifier. The root of the problems here is humidity. Another thing I’m considering is stripping the wallpaper and putting on some water seal and a good rough paint that will resist dampness. Eun Jeong started warming up to these ideas and further suggested we get some rugs for the 1970s-era linoleum in the living room.
Eun Jeong is a workhorse when it comes to cleaning. She just wouldn’t stop. And you wouldn’t believe all the dirt that was washed away from the apartment. It already smells a tad better. The floor feels clean.
While we were cleaning, the girl who was living here came by with some friends from her new school to pick up the rest of her stuff. While we were loading her boxes, one of her friends said I looked familiar.
“I don’t know. Maybe you’ve seen me on TV.”
“What’s your name?”
This was just another weird coincidence. Molly interviewed me in February for a job near Gangnam, which she also offered to me. This was the very well paying job I turned down for the job in Seocho that I had just quit. When I was getting my visa for the job in Seocho, I met the girl who took the job I turned down. When I had decided my days at the Seocho school were over, the first person I emailed was Molly. She said she wanted to interview me again, but I accepted the position here in Beomgye before I did so. Now the girl I’m replacing in Beomgye is going to work for Molly.
We said goodbye, and Molly started to correct herself when she said, “See you later.”
I responded, “Believe me, with these chance meetings, we’ll meet again.”
The apartment was finally at a decent level of cleanliness at around 6:30. We went out for dinner at a cheap Japanese place, which we both enjoyed. We had more soba noodles (“momil” in Korean) and dunkass. It had an interesting menu that instantly made it a regular dinner stop for the future.
We started to just walk a little around the block, looking at the school and the Buddhist temple next to it, before walking home. But Eun Jeong crossed the busy road and the bridge over the river. We were on our way to Beomgye Station, which was almost a mile away.
We did make it, though, and Eun Jeong realized why I wanted to move here. She said, “It’s like Seoul but not crowded.”
We got some ice coffees and explored the little shops. A lot of new restaurants have opened in the area, including a takeout sushi shop and a Vietnamese noodle restaurant. Eun Jeong showed the first signs of a smile since Saturday.
We then went to the cool park at the end of the plaza. The first thing that impressed her was that a street was closed off so that children could ride scooters and little cars on it. Since I had last been to the park, it looks like they installed a lot more fountains. The fountains in this area aren’t the usual fountains in pools that are supposed to be enjoyed from a distance. These fountains shoot out of the ground with multi-colored lights making them look like streams of fruit punch. Each fountain had kids playing in them, trying to stomp them with their feet. Eun Jeong also liked the artificial river that ran through the park.
Then she saw one of the phenomena that made me stop in my tracks last time I was at the park. A large aerobic group had started in one section of the park, consisting of people of all ages and body types, which grew larger and larger as the workout progressed, along with a growing group of spectators. Eun Jeong got excited about this. If she hadn’t have been wearing a dress, I think she would have joined in.
After viewing the kids jump half pipes and ramps at the “X-Games” park, we walked the long walk home. We also started shopping for bicycles because this place is far, far away from the subway station.
So Eun Jeong is in a more positive mood, caused more by the area than the apartment. It’s too far away from her work, so she’s going to have to finally use the apartment in Mokdong she moved to two months ago. It will make me sad to again have her living far away.