I want to be surrounded by community, like I am on Lopez. I want to have family, or friends as close as family, who are just down the road.
I have moved, too often. Now I find myself back in Korea, but my four closest friends living in Korea, if "friends" is even the right word, are in Daegu, Jeonju, and Seoul (2).(The idea of "friends" is a complicated concept in Korean culture and requires being the same age, preferably born in the same year. These four women are older (2) and younger (2)--one of the younger is American, so at least we share the definition of friends). A fifth close Korean friend is now in Seattle (what horrible timing, as she arrived just as I was leaving for the summer in Korea). Realistically it is at least a four hour transportation commitment to go to Seoul, and longer for the other locations, so meeting is not very practical.
So I feel a bit isolated out here in the boondocks.
But I also feel so incredibly blessed. Yesterday I was working myself into a panic about the class I teach in Korean (again) because one of the two articles I'd assigned to the students (newspaper articles) just didn't make sense to me (even though I'd looked up tons of words in the dictionary). Finally I called one of my friends and she reassured me about my Korean (very important so that I'd be able to teach class today), had me read her the beginning of the article as she got ready to leave for school (it was morning for her), and explained the entire giant back-story I hadn't known (hence making the article just seem completely bizarre). Furthermore while I was sleeping (and after her class) she wrote up a summary of the whole thing, with additional details and even a photo illustrating the issue.
Here's the photo.
It may not surprise you to find out that when I read the article and it said that "women wrote messages supporting freeing Jeong Bongju from jail on their breasts and uploaded them to the internet," that I was completely confused. What?!! Why would they upload bikini shots with some guy's name as a form of protest?!! So my dear friend Jisoo had to explain to me the entire complicated story about Jeong and his fellows criticizing the Lee Myungbak administration until he was locked up. After which the reasons I'd chosen to assign the article (the sections about sexual objectification of Korean women, even in politically liberal circles) were much easier to connect to the initial paragraphs about bikini shots. (On the other hand, my five Chinese students were just as confused as I was, or more, since their Korean isn't as good as mine, and even the Korean students seemed pretty unaware of the entire issue-- current affairs are not their forte).
So I am very lucky that I have friends like Jisoo. And she's not the only amazing friend I have. They're allover the world, these amazing friends. Being amazing. Raising kids in all these awesome ways (not all the same awesome ways, but all iterations of "doing it right"), succeeding in their careers (I still can't get over seeing my friend's name outside her office at a swanky law firm), rocking their graduate studies, seeing the world... they're all quite inspiring so I have to keep concentrating on my feelings of love and gratitude that I have them at all and stop worrying about living in the boondocks (and hey, I have new friends Maria Anna and Sara here!).