The Art of Leaving, Part 1

I have never been one to prepare well.

On average, I was a C student in school at best, when I’m sure I could have reached for the stars and gotten B’s (OK, maybe one or two B+’s. A man can dream) if only I had just a little preparation.


When, in December 2005, I committed to leaving Jinju, South Korea, early, bought a Singapore Airlines plane ticket and then proceeded to wait almost an entire, torturous week, I could have been slowly, carefully deciding what I would and could fit into two suitcases (I had come with three but, when trying to navigate the Seoul Subway System during my first, lost hour in this country, I decided making a break for it with two would be much better), so I was not dreading having to quickly stuff things in pockets and pray I remembered my passport (I’ll give away the ending: I did). Instead, I stayed out all night, noraebanging with an Irish guy and a Canadian girl I barely knew but insisted in my head we would make a tremendous couple because we had talked until closing at Zio Ricco one night (I’ll give away another ending: she left Korea two months after I did because she always hated it, and ended up getting married a couple years later. I found out via MySpace, so you know it’s been awhile). I came back to my apartment–

This apartment, actually, as seen during my first return visit to Jinju in eight years, in October–and quickly stuffed clothes, papers, and whatever bric-a-brac I would be able to carry into the two suitcases, sacrificing prized items like my nice Old Navy Pea Coat ($19.99 on clearance, and worth every penny).

But, as I approach my middle 30s, I can be proud in the knowledge that I have gotten better.

There are 10 days before I must vacate the apartment I have called home for almost a year, 11 until I get on a plane and get the GTFO out of Korea for about two weeks. Which means I have a day of homelessness. Thank goodness for friends.

I actually began light preparation last week when I accepted working with the company in Gimhae and knew without a doubt I was not going to be with my current school beyond this month. I pulled out my suitcases and started packing them with clothes, only to take many of them back out to wear because I still had several weeks.

But, it was a start. This week, I started taking down picture frames from the walls, clearing books and collected papers from the bookshelf, inviting friends to come take the excess of toilet paper rolls I won’t want to waste suitcase space on. I stopped stocking up on meat and produce deals at Home plus and ate through whatever excess I had, throwing away old product reluctantly. I scrubbed the bathroom floor, emptied its medicine cabinet and began coordinating with friends willing to store stuff for a couple weeks.


And yet, it still feels like home. A messy one, but it often was. I suspect it will up until the last time I shut the door on Valentine’s Day.


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