Monday, February 13, 2012

wide open future

It’s really no secret that I want to go back to Korea. More than once I’ve thrown a minor hissy fit in my prayer journal about how I want to be in Korea more than I want to breathe. Yes, I recognize that’s extremely dramatic. I’m just that kind of girl I suppose.

I had everything worked out on my plan to get back. I had applied for a great job at a Christian school, and I’d daydream as we drove down the road about being on a bus in Seoul. I planned out what my weekly schedule would look like, which ministries I’d be involved in, how I’d steal Taesun back from stupid Kelsey. I knew what date I was leaving and where I was spending the holidays. I knew what restaurant I’d go to my first night back.

I’d been checking my email every couple of days waiting for an opportunity to interview at the school I wanted. Everyone on the team knew my plans, and a lot of them offered to come visit me when I get back. A few days ago, I finally got the email I was waiting for, but it didn’t say what I needed it to.

The job I wanted was filled in house. I could always go back to my old school or even find another hagwon job, but I’ve been feeling lately that God has been telling me that my Korea adventure is over. That door closing was the sign I needed to confirm that I won’t be returning to the country I’ve come to adore in the fall. No more Seoul metro. No more Paris Baguette. No more OEM. No more Namsan. No more Jubilee. No more noraebang. No more Korean BBQ. No more underground shopping. No more homeless outreaches at Seoul Station. No more Food 2900. No more peace signs. No more Korea.

When I read the email that said the job I wanted was filled, I tried my very hardest to put on a strong face. I read the rest of my emails, signed off without responding to anyone (or wishing my dad and sister a happy birthday; sorry bout that), and headed downstairs to try to watch tv with my friends. I made it about three minutes before I ran out into the yard and fell apart.

If you don’t love a place like I loved Seoul, then you probably think I’m nuts. Not getting a job isn’t that big of a deal; I’ll find another job in another city and life will go on. But I’d become so convinced that I’d be seeing Gangnam again in just a few months, and having that ripped away from me was more than I could handle. I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried with such desperation. I was an absolute mess.

After I’d been outside for a while, a little frog hopped in front of me. I knew immediately that catching that frog would make me feel immeasurably better, so I wiped my eyes and chased him around the yard. He hopped under a bush and out of sight, so I gave up and decided to go inside.

I ran through the tv room hoping that no one would notice I was crying, but my room ended up having a few girls in it. I crumbled onto the bed without explanation, sobbing into my pillow. After a few minutes of the girls rubbing my back without having any idea why I was in such hysterics, I lifted my head up and whispered, “I’m not going back.”

It was time for dinner, so I had to make myself presentable enough that the rest of the team wouldn’t ask too many questions. I snuck out into the circle and stared at my feet while everyone else was eating, refusing to make eye contact with anyone.

When the meal was over, I headed upstairs to see if anyone would play euchre with me to get my mind off things, but the boys I was looking for weren’t around. I checked every level of the house and every room, but they completely disappeared. I had given up and was heading back down to my own room when the four people I was looking for scrambled up the stairs. They all had the most joyful looks on their faces, and the one in the front shoved a small plastic cup in my hand. I looked at his hand, then all their faces, then back to his hand. Why would I want an empty plastic cup? Couldn’t they tell I’d been crying? I thought the only way to get them to move would be to take the cup, so I reached out for it.

That’s when I saw the little frog in the bottom of the cup. And I knew it’s going to be okay somehow.