I sit here in my bedroom on a cool summer night. The mountain breeze gently flows through the screen. Sometimes I hear the sounds of one of the four Buddhist temples nearby. The stream is still rushing from the recent rains.
I’m going to miss this.
We are moving tomorrow. Not only to a different apartment. We’re moving to a different city–Gimpo. It’s a much better apartment, twice the size of our current place. It’s so new that parts are still under construction. It’s super high tech. And it has great facilities and perks, like multiple well-made playgrounds, a fitness center, golf practice area, all underground parking, and a two-year free membership to Hanhwa resorts.
Yet my feelings are mixed. EJ finally admitted she had some as well. We’ve lived in this place for eight years. I’ve lived in Anyang for nine. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I was thirteen. Almost a quarter of my life has been in Anyang.
I keep expecting some grand sweep of sentimentality, but it’s forced at best. I know when I gaze upon this apartment for the last time, once again empty from all our belongings, my eyes will burn and mist. So much has happened here. Yet we’re getting too big for this place. Most of the things that made Anyang special to me are no more. Most all my Anyang friends have left–moved to Seoul or back overseas. Most of the restaurants and bars I’ve loved are gone–Churrasco, Atlanta, Uncle Don. Even Bori-ne is a shell of its former gloriousness. This neighborhood was teeming with nice restaurants when we first moved here. Now it’s a wasteland. It’s sad that the only restaurant I may possibly miss is the Taco Bell in Lotte Department Store.
The commutes have gotten more challenging with the elimination of most express bus routes between Seoul and Anyang. The car doesn’t make it any faster. As Jian gets older, I realize the dearth of decent playgrounds in our area.
Yet I’m going to miss this stupid city. I lobbied really hard to get us to stay in this neighborhood. It had been so long since I had grown roots anywhere. None of us have true ties here. No family. Few friends. The only friends are the parents of Jian’s friends, and from what I gather from EJ’s stories, a lot of the dynamics are straight out of high school.
Then Lex died.
His sudden death in April, just hours after we had eaten together, had jarred me. I decided it was time for change again. Drastic change. EJ found the apartment in Gimpo, and we jumped on it. It’s not only been that. I’m changing my lifestyle. I’ve reduced my drinking by eighty percent. I never drink at home, and when I do drink while out, it’s rarely more than two beers. I’ve reduced the portion sizes during meals. I’m planning to start seriously exercising. I’ve thrown out a lot of things I have held on to for years. The “Berserker” t-shirt like the one worn by Jay in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” which I bought in the ’90s and last wore at Lex-i-con. The WeakLazyLiar t-shirt I got (still my favorite band) from the band itself right around the time of my divorce. The cap I creepily kept that reminded me of a woman who I fell in love with in the ’90s for a short intense time. All the hard drives from old computers I had been meaning to salvage (goodbye, old porn).
The only thing I’ve surprisingly been sentimental about is the curb in front of our building. It meant nothing to me, just a place I walked across while exiting the building to work or getting out of a cab late at night. In the past year, it has become the place where I wait for the school bus with Jian. I’ve been so busy that we don’t have much time together. So our mornings standing out on the curb have been special. I showed her ripe persimmons on a tree, revealing to her that fruit grows on trees. There were mornings she insisted I hold her and not let her down, and she’d hold my face in her hands, studying it. On rainy days, we’d go out early so she could jump in the puddles. I don’t know what the situation will be at the new place.
I’m going to miss this particular area. We’re technically in the city, but we are tucked in the crevice of a green mountain. Frogs and crickets sing us to sleep. I have a nice night view of the city, though that’s been changing with more and more apartment construction. I do like watching the Number One subway line snake by in the distance on its way between Anyang and Myeonghak Stations. I meant to buy binoculars since I first moved here so I could see more closely what was out there. I was planning to sit out there with a drink and a cigar, to gaze over the cityscape and ponder things worth pondering.
I wasn’t planning on being here this long. Every two years, when our contract was up, I was secretly joyed that we weren’t moving. This was the first time I didn’t want to stay, especially now that I know that we’re going to a much better place. I have a decent view at the new place, but it’s not going to be of a cityscape, or mountains, or Buddhist temples. Our door won’t freeze solid during the winter because it will be inside a hallway. We won’t have the noise of an elementary school’s overzealous sound system or of old people arguing at six in the morning outside our window. The people seem much nicer in our new town. There’s more space to drive and park. Each restaurant we’ve stumbled upon has been much better than equivalents in Anyang.
At eight tomorrow morning, the movers will arrive. They will pack and handle it all themselves. We won’t need to do anything beyond paperwork. We spent the weekend throwing out excess possessions while a TLC hoarding show played on NetFlix. EJ finally said it yesterday, “I’m nervous about moving because this is our home.”
But like any major event, I’m just closing my eyes while the freight train rushes at me. Let’s see what’s next.