I saw Korea in my dream. I was driving to Uljiro 1ga(을지로 1가) braving the busy traffic. In real life, I will never be able to work up that much courage to drive in the Seoul traffic. Only in my dream.
Then I saw myself walking on the streets of Seoul, all corners and back streets, crooked roads, and climbing long steps in the poor neighborhood up the hill. I was with all my family; both of my sisters, and my parents. We stopped at a bakery to get some bread, and continued our journey. Then I woke up. The clock reads 2:30 am.
I got a busy mind working strenuously hard to bring up the past memories of my country. It never forgets. One never forgets. I will always remember my country. I am always working strenuously hard to go back one day, always running back to the country that bore me.
Would I get that chance to go back? Would this journey to the Heavenly Kingdom perhaps lead me back to Korea on which earthly land I took my very first human step? And do I even want to go back? Leaving it once was hard enough. I don’t think I can go back and leave the second time. That might kill me, considering how hard I took the first leave.
Once my mentor in Hawaii told me that I can try ‘visits’ before I make any final decisions. I’ve never really cared to visit anywhere. Perhaps because my parents never had enough money to pay for the ‘visits’. I didn’t grow up visiting fun places. After the divorce, it was always a one-way trip for me. If I could afford anything, it was only the half part of the journey. Or maybe I am just too extreme in that sense.
For example, I could say “I am staying with my sister.” It may be less embarrassing. But in my heart, I know that not to be true. I am not staying. I am living. I never stay. I live. At least I try to. No matter how short of that ‘stay’ is wherever I find myself in, what I am doing is living from a deep place coming from my soul. My soul is more attached to life than I would ever know. My soul does not like the word ‘stay’. Not because it sounds controlling, but because it sounds too temporary. Maybe the emotional memories of ‘staying’ in Korea during my past ‘visits’ had an impact on this psychology. I should have just visited, instead of living. It wouldn’t have been so painful, perhaps. But I do not know how to swim near the surface. I dive. I almost drown every time. But that’s the risk I am willing to take.
“I am afraid of diving! I can swim really well, even in the 7 feet water, but dive?? It scares me!”
I somehow found myself listening to a 7 year old chatty prodigy in the playground. We drove 20 minutes from the apartment to the national park to let the kids out in the sun. I was tired from work physically, but the guilt building up as I rested was a heavier burden to carry. I would be stealing the sun away from the children if I don’t make a trip to the playground on this unusually warm and bright winter day. I don’t know why this girl chose me, but for some reason, she followed me around the entire time and talked my ears off. I welcomed her with all my heart. I think I needed this distraction.
Before we came to this playground, we played by the lake. The late afternoon sun reflected on the lake made me think about a monastery I visited where I made a mistake of living it. The monastery became so close to my heart that it wreaked havoc on me. I desperately missed that place on this day, but I loaded my deep longing onto the boat to send to the other side. Just to the other side of the lake for now. It’s easier to cross over. Maybe I can let it cross the ocean one day, but not yet. I am still partly living it, fantasizing it as some may call it, and dreaming it. Sometimes dreaming is as real as it gets, and it’s a feel good dream. So I hang onto it a little bit longer.
“I am afraid of diving, too! Honestly, I’ve never done it. I love swimming, but I can’t swim in the ocean. I am afraid of it!”, I told her, confessing my yet another fear after we already discussed my fear of height. She thought my acrophobia was silly. So I didn’t tell her anything about my history of nyctophbia at all.
By the time we left the playground, I knew so much about her. She plays tennis, and piano. She loves to swim, and she skates, but her favorite thing to do is Kung Fu. Her mom wants her to do ballet, but she refuses. She has an aunt in Europe, who married a German guy, but now divorced and lives alone. She speaks Chinese. She has a little brother who likes to pick his booger during the Kung Fu class and put his product on his teacher’s Kung Fu outfit.
“Nice knowing you!” I said goodbye to the little girl before I left with my family in the dusk.
I think I needed to know about her so I can forget about me.
It was easier knowing her, much easier than getting to know me. It was definitely easier than knowing the dream I had in my heart, or in my sleep.