Why is someone shouting in Korean? How do you know its Korean? Where am I? Oh yeah, you live in Korea, you’ve been here for 6 months. Wake up now. Wake up!
I peel off my sleep mask and laugh a little. Waking up disoriented happens at least twice a week. What time is it? Is it STILL raining? The usual questions go through my head as I reach over and grab my laptop, it’s 8:00 am. First stop, email. Second stop, Skype. Third stop, Facebook. I immediately check who’s online and click the “offline” option. I’m way too tired and grumpy to speak to anyone who’s just getting off work in California. I check my homepage and notice hundreds of ecstatic status updates about the music festival, Coachella. Lucky bastards.
As I scroll through the pictures of friends of friends, the familiar look of hippies, alcohol and way too much love , it brings me back to my last weekend in the U.S: Lovelution. Oh San Francisco and your free spirit ;what a festival, what a weekend.
I then realize its Wednesday, hump day! Only 3 more working days until the weekend. What are my plans? Dinosaur museum, hmm… not as crazy as a music festival but why pass up a dinosaur experience in Korea? There should be a few good photos accompanied by some definite laughs.
Its 8:30 and I have hours to kill before work so I grab my sneakers and stretch a little before walking out into brisk morning air. Korea, land of the morning calm, is especially living up to its title today. The wind blows and a few scooters race past as I turn down the road. The cherry blossom trees lining the street seem less vibrant as the petals confetti the pavement under my feet. I catch eyes with an older man and give the usual “Hello, yes, I’m a white female” head nod and continue on.
I’m definitely not in the mood for a long run but this half marathon is not going to train for itself. I-pod shuffle on and I’m off, walking towards the main highway. Feeling a little sore in my calves from the 10k I ran last night, I stop to stretch again. A Gorillaz song comes on; they played at Coachella last weekend. Damn.
I envision countless stages, a sea of bobbing heads and limitless good vibes all around. Loveultion comes to mind again. The weather was perfect in San Francisco. The streets were shut down, music was playing and people were celebrating. It was uncomfortably crowded but smiles were plastered on everyone’s faces. Has it really been 6 months?
I then recognize two Korean women coming down from the mountain I’m about to run up. They’re on their usual Wednesday morning hike. I smile, not knowing the expressions behind the masks and visors that cover their faces.
I continue up the mountain, very slowly. My right calf is not up for this; a sharp pain runs through it and I begin walking. My legs havent been this sore since my last weekend in San Francisco when I attempted to run through a tunnel, in sandals, while holding my breath. I didn’t make it then and I’m definitely not making it up this mountain today.
Just then I hear a noise I wasnt expecting for another 4 hours.
“AMANDA TEACHA! AMANDA!!”
I look behind me and see a field trip coming down the mountain. Koreans do love their hiking. I spot “Ann” waving and smiling in her neon orange backpack. She runs down to me, along with ten other Korean 7 year-olds I don’t recognize. I am suddenly surrounded by a chorus of welcoming children.
“My name is….”
I laugh and let the charade go on for about a minute before I smile and reassure Ann I’ll see her in a couple of hours. As I limp down the mountain, I turn off my i-pod and instead, listen to sound of ecstatic children.