Insadong: Where I wish I was right about now…

Brushes, brushes, who’s got the brushes?

A perfect afternoon to people-watch. And buy stuff.

Have some tea?

Say a prayer at the Buddhist temple

This guy always had cool stuff on his cart

You might not know it, but I miss Korea. I miss living in Korea and sometimes I miss it a lot.  Sometimes there is just a whiff of longing so strong and for something so varied…one day it’s a yearning for a walk on the mountain path (where everyone stares at you because foreigners don’t go on the mountain path and what are you thinking, you dumb way-guk?).

Sometimes I miss the rushing of the street traffic (and the kids who yell random things such as the f-word at you or interrupt the conversation you were having with your husband because they demand that you to say ‘hi’ to them) and walking through the hazy summer heat to the grocery store (and schlepping back 10 bags laden with a bunch of stuff and having to set it all down and rest and having chaffed wrists with red, red rings around them from where the plastic handles bit into them and being bathed in sweat. because it’s a steaming sauna outside. and you walk everywhere). 

And sometimes it’s the (hot, crowded, garlic-breath, standing-room-only hour and a half) subway ride into Insa-Dong, where the golden afternoon light filters through the softly shining leaves of the ginko trees and everyone strolls along (shoulder to armpit) browsing and gazing at all the traditional (made in China) wares for sale and stopping for a coffee and a good jot in a notebook while gazing down from three floors up to watch the passers-by and blinking in the sunshine and drinking it all in, the far-from-home-ness, the exotic familiarity that you cherish like a silky cloak wrapped around you, whispering against your skin “this is life / breathe it in / this won’t last” and heading home in the late afternoon, pushing against the other residents just like they push against you, not giving ground against them, riding home with your treasures and down the stairs to your (very, very little) apartment to meet, after a long and wonderful afternoon, your wonderful husband who has waited for you while you have had a little field trip all your own.

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