I no longer have a Korean address.
Actually, I currently do not have any address, but that’s beside the point. We left Korea, perhaps forever, a little over two weeks ago. Our final days in the country were marked by the chaos that only comes from living in Korea. A beater car that died four days too early, bargaining with the packers to ship items that aren’t fully authorized, and party plans suddenly canceled because the Army changed its weekend plans. It also brought the little joys that are unique to our time in Korea- getting to know someone new at a group dinner, a friend bringing us homemade cookies for the flight home, a final picture of Seoul Tower, steaming dumplings down a back alley, and a final snow storm that left the country looking pristine.
I know a lot of people who couldn’t wait for their time to leave Korea. At times, I was one of those people. I made a promise to myself that I would never write a rant about Korea on this blog, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have times of being frustrated with the place. But now, sitting in America, those frustrations are a little difficult to remember. My anger at Korean drivers is replaced by amusement; my annoyance with the crowds has become nostalgia for exploring foreign streets. All I am left with is fond memories of an amazing (almost) three years.
I’ll admit it, I cried as our plane took off. It’s not just because of the place; actually, it was maybe only 30% about Korea. It was hard to leave that life. If you’ve been following along on this blog for the past few years, then you might agree that we had it pretty nice for a while. We lived in a perfect little neighborhood, we met some lifelong friends, and were both very happy with our jobs. And we traveled like we never dreamed possible. That lifestyle- the foreign city, the expat experience, the constant travel- was all just temporary. I knew that was never going to be sustainable, which was partly why we threw ourselves into it as we did. This was a very distinct era in our lives, and it was difficult to let that go.
However, we’ve been traveling ever since. Here I am whining about the end of our travels as I sit in a hotel room in Las Vegas, paid for courtesy of the US Army. We flew from Korea to Tennessee and from there have slowly made our way across the USA, stopping to see friends and family along the way. This road trip has been the perfect reintroduction to America, and our route conveniently follows where our family lives. We’ve seen places that we’ve been missing for three years and have enjoyed moving further into the previously unexplored west. We are pausing for two weeks in Las Vegas while Jared attends a course, and I’ve finally found the time to process my thoughts about leaving Korea.
Our final destination is Ft. Irwin, California. It’s located in the Mojave desert and is next to nothing. It will be very isolated, and I think that will be the biggest adjustment for us. We were less than excited when we were informed of our next duty station, but we’ve slowly come to accept our lot. On the weekends we plan to explore Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the numerous national parks in the area. It may not be the adventure we wanted, but it’s the adventure we’re embracing.
With the beginning of this new chapter, comes the end of this blog. I’ve been asked to continue and document our time in California, but it doesn’t feel right for me. Korea was a special time in our lives and deserved the privilege of public documentation. More Than A Page was one of the best decisions I ever made. It made me see Korea differently, and it made me see myself differently. I grew as a writer and a photographer- I learned to call myself a writer and a photographer. I’ll never regret the choice to start this project, and I could not have done it without the support of my friends and family. I’m especially grateful for Jared, who read every post and encouraged me to expand my photography skills; my mom, who shared just about every post on Facebook and may be more proud of this blog than I am; and my sweet friend Krystle, who was behind the scenes on so many adventures. And you, for reading along to the very end. Thank you.
The blog will still be online for at least another year, so if you’re missing Korea, feel free to dig through my memories. I know I will.