한장의 추억 – 2005-06

내 마음은 아팠어 전화기로 너를 만나면서
다시는 볼 수도 없다는 그 맘에 난 힘이 빠졌어
오랜만이었어 너와 마지막 통화한지도
내 꿈을 위한 내 모든 것들 너를 잠시 잊게했었지
너는 아름다웠었지 내가 지금까지 살아오면서
나는 몰랐어 네게 숨겨진 그 마음을
니가 행복하길 빌겠어 우리지난 날에 기억들을
너의 미래의 삶 그곳에 남겨지는 한장의 추억

지금 제 눈물을 알아?

금요일, 11월 18, 2005 [2006 Fifa World Cup ]
The 2006 Fifa World Cup contenders have emerged. Once again, South Korea has qualified a place in the prestigious soccer scene, though it may be a totally different ball game now that it’s the German field they would be playing in. With all the hype on the star players already showing their prowess in the Western fields, Germany may well become the next most visited country for the Koreans, other than to the Philippines.
It was in fact the 2002 World Cup that sowed the seed of the country of Soju in me. Before that, it has never made an impression on me, not even when friends had come back with fond memories. For some reasons, I just thought it would never be a “stamp” to appear on my passport. Yet, at a twist of fate, it became the first to appear on my renewed passport.
Why the World Cup? I have asked that question a couple of times over but with no answer. I mean I played the game when I was really young, little, tiny. Then I was made the goal keeper, a permanent role for me as the bigger sized 남매 would always be the ones to act heroes, fighting for the ball and all. And when the opposing team did get a chance to try shooting in a ball, I dodged. To be precise, I ran aside or hid behind my favourite cousin, who will always come to my rescue. So you can say that the game of soccer was my infant sports game, the first encounter in the arena of sports. Several years later, when I had a faint idea of the World Cup, I was already doing other sports, such as swimming and badminton. I would rather cheer for the politicians during election day than to watch the soccer matches on TV almost daily and nightly during the World Cup period. And since none in my family, not even the guys would mind giving it a miss, it has never been a memory revisited.
The possible re-connection with the ball game came in recent years, and in a some-what “perverted” way. I would be running on the track while some big boys try out their stunts in the adjacent field. To avoid the attack of a flying ball, I would always be at a lookout and sometimes, I swear I would rather run in the rain when these guys would be out of action. On most occasions, we co-existed in peace.
Then came the 2002 Fifa World Cup. Seeing how the Asian teams fought to emerge as possible winners was breath-taking, and even more exhilarating was the drum beat and chanting in unison of the Red devils. It’s hard not to be swayed by their spirits, and you just want to see more of them. So I donned the colour Pink and Grey (the one jersey’s colour combination of the Korean team) and cheered fervently for them, all the way to the semi-finals. The following year, I landed on the land of the morning calm. And still another year, I met SJ, the ardent soccer fan. In fact, during our first meeting, he was most concerned if there is cable in his hotel so as to catch the matches in the wee hours.
So it is almost four years since.. Life is as unpredictable as a soccer match, indeed so.

월요일, 11월 28, 2005 [Cheonggye Stream]
The stream was great!
I have been reading so much on the river but never been able to imagine how one stream can get the Koreans this excited. And now I finally get to meet her, the stream and yes, she is really one Helen of Troy, totally mesmerizing, perhaps more so in the night.
We took a walk down the stream, all the way from one end to another. SJ must have some ESP power or he’ll not know I would love to go to the stream. In fact, it never even occur to me that the stream is just near where I stay at Dongdaemun and of course now that I know, I will be going down sometime later.
The night was a little chilly but more than bearable. I suppose it’s great to be able to just be near nature wherever one is. SJ complained about the trees planted along the pavement though, I thought it was a brilliant idea to create a more “natural” ambience alongside the stream and somehow, trees and water, they just go along well.
The stream reminds me of yet another song, a Chinese one, about the stream of Remembrance and Amnesia. I can’t really recall the entire lyrics but it was something like if you happened to take a sip of the water of Stream of Remembrance, you will recollect all that had been buried deep down your heart(s) and likewise, when you drink from the Stream of Amnesia, you will as the name suggests, forget about all that you would want for it never to have happened…we were talking about taking pictures then, and how these photographs will help to remind one of the past events. I just thought it’s redundant to be reminded or that you need an external entity to try to remember someone or some things. If you cannot remember someone, it just shows that he/she is no longer a priority to you or in your life, so why be reminded? And if he/she is still very much “alive” in your memory, you wouldn’t need anything or anyone to remind you. Indeed, the scenery can be captured, the things around can serve as great imprints in the mind, but people, to remember or forget someone, involves intense emotions. It just doesn’t help nor make a difference with a mere picture. At least I think so.
And anyway, to know someone is very much by chance, and to lose someone as time goes by, it may jolly well be by chance too. And SJ wanted to get access to this blog, he can only do so by chance (no pretending) and well, by chance, I was wearing the perfume “chance”! Let nature takes its course, and always, by chance.

화요일, 11월 29, 2005 [PC bang tonight]
Being alone requires a lot of one’s mental strengths. You may really need a reason to want to be alone and a lot of courage to stay alone for a long time. Somehow, it is just about finding oneself whenever one is away from others. Someone once commented that everything happens for a reason, I suppose it is especially true when it is the things that you don’t normally encounter in your life. And being back in Seoul is somehow, like a journey back to my “past life”. (Just an analogy)
The fact that I feel so much about Seoul is perhaps got to do with a lot of people and factors. Then to think that this may be the last time I’ll be in the land of the morning calm until several years later, simply saddens me. It’s like a summary of all that makes up what I am today, then it will be gone tomorrow. And lying on the bed in the hotel, I am beginning to experience heartburn and severe gastric pain. I wonder if it is the food that I consume or that I’ve not been eating enough. Whatever it is, the heartburn was more than I could bear, then I just crawled out of bed to grab a cup of water to gulp down the tablets. Anyway, I felt desolate, sad, miserable at that moment to finally realize why people would insist on growing old and dying in one’s hometown than to die a foreign soul…well, got too carried away.
Just as I was wrapping myself into a shrimp, I stared at the ceiling and my eyes got teary. I miss my bed, my room, my mum and dad. I miss you guys back home and I miss just being able to move around everywhere, whenever I feel like it. I even miss my own desktop and the waking up in the night to write my blogs. Then I am here in a PC bang, inhaling the smokes and all…but wait! I just realized how many more poor souls are around me, playing senseless games and staring into the screen for no good reason, maybe the only reason is to waste their time, their lives in the cyber world. They seem to be coming in to these PC bangs quite frequently, if quantity has anything to suggest. There are two PC bangs near where I stay, both about 100 metres away from my hotel, one on the left and the other to the right. How else do you explain the need to have these PC places located within the same vicinity than to serve their clients like the 7-Eleven does–to provide convenience.
Anyway, the PC bangs are not very crowded tonight. But all except me are playing their games. I would really need to get out of here soon, or I might die a senseless death as a passive smoker.

토요일, 12월 03, 2005 [The Night Out-Incheon City Hall]

Always a good journey when it becomes more than mundane. I just had that moment of my life, travelling alone from Seoul to quasi- Incheon. Why qusai-Incheon? Actually I am not even sure if I was already in Incheon, SJ said we were, that is the place where he lives and works for these past four years. But somehow, it doesn’t feel as real, since my only impression of Incheon would be the International airport and then this place is far away from the airport and so on.
The journey kicked off in Dongdaemun Stadium station, I will have to get to Incheon City Hall by 8 in the evening, in one piece. And arming with a mere subway map, it is not truly the most helpful in the entire world, as you will understand if you ever take a good look at the Seoul Subway map. The different colour lines are interesting, spreading out like a web, it does have its delicate patterns to be admired on. Yet it is converted into a maze, or maybe the bibimbap with all the vegetables, an American quilt,… with a little imagination, the list can go on. To play safe, I mananged to call the right number to get some practical aid and with that little more confidence, I am all ready to embark on my little adventure as early as at 5.40p.m.
First, I will take a line no. 4 to Dongdaemun, then transfer to a line no. 1 all the way to Bupheong, before I change into another “What’s-the-name” line to my final destination. And I did, covering a station by station, the Ipod singing along as I go. Let me just go through the whole game of getting a transfer-of-lines in the subway ride: Dongdaemun Stadium-Dongdaemun-Guro-Bupheong-Incheon City Hall, plus a lot of help from the ever-so-polite Korean commuters. Certainly knowing your “left” and “right” in Korean will help a great deal. Eventually, I did make it right on time, and there was a little Christmas tree outside the control station as if to welcome me to the winter wonderland. Oooh….It sure was cold in Incheon…and we had the black noodles for dinner, and one plate of extra spicy vegetables.
It wasn’t a fantastic Chinese restaurant, Qingdao (Green island?) was the name. But dinner was good, sprinkled with some latest updates on my Andong trip and Camus’ book on the Myth of Sisyphus and the topic on suicide in reincarnation general, the and many more. In fact, it’s fascinating how the legends and tales told back in our childhood would come back whenever we are with friends not coming from the same cultural background. I was just explaining to SJ how the Chinese may perceive death and reincarnation and the bit on Meng-po just surfaced. Indeed, it was said that when one dies and the soul descended into hell, one is to drink a bowl of soup prepared by Meng-po before crossing the bridge of Nai-he. Upon washing down that soup, one’s entire memory of the past life will be erased so as to start afresh when rebirth is available.
I never find that tale interesting, but it somehow felt romantic as I was telling it to him.
Then it crosses my mind that there are so many coincidences between two people, how some nationalitites will come together to be known as close as they may be, I mean like the Chinese & Taiwanese (ending with “ese”), then the Turkish and the British may be another group (ending with “ish”), and perhaps the Korean and Singaporean (ending with “an”) and Indonesian and Malaysian (ending with “n”). Lame thoughts maybe, but something to think about when the paths cross between the people of these nations. I still think that as the paths cross, especially for people who live far apart from each other, you better believe that there is something in the cosmic that is more than meets the eyes. And yes, another discovery in the language, that eyes and snow sound and are written in the same way in Korean. So when you should write a poem or something, you may want to use a pun, like the falling of the “nun”(pronounced as ‘noon’) and it may mean both the falling snow or/and the tearing eyes. I love that, it’s simply beautiful.
SJ suggested his version of the language game that I am suffering from Insomnia while he is fighting (maybe not even resisting) Amnesia, the two words each starts and ends with an “A”. Wow! Way to go friend! You are one great “copycat”. 🙂 But on a serious note, it can be rather philosophical; at least Jostein Gaarder who wrote the “The Solitaire Mystery” will agree with him, Gaarder himself wrote about that in his novel, the woman named “Athena” who went in search of herself in Athens. The spelling of the name was like a mirror image, to suggest the physical and spiritual components? Or was the name of the woman “Anna”? Now I am getting forgetful as well.
Anyway, we only had about 2 and a half hour, but we’ve covered so much that I always find it weird, like the time is suspended or something. Then I travelled back safely to my humble abode, the last song on the Ipod was “Wake me up when September ends” by Greenday. Oh, and so SJ loves the R&B, especially Boyz II men, and I simply love my Rock! (Say it with a roar) The night was lovely and I slept the moment I hit the bed, until almost 6 in the morning, woke up shortly and then fell back to the slumber land all the way till 8 in the morning.
A good morning indeed, more so when I finally got connected with Nerix via sms and to find a new entry in Yamaa’s blog.

일요일, 12월 04, 2005 [The First Snow]

It started to snow at around 8 last evening. It was indeed snowing as far as I can see the flakes and all and then also, I can feel the chill even staying indoor. Anyway, it has been most thrilling to see the first snow in Seoul. I mean it shouldn’t be happening around this time of the year? Am I right to see that? Well, I don’t know, just don’t expect to see that especially it’s the second last night of my stay in Seoul.
The snow dancing in the air just got me so excited and happy that I had to share with a lot of people, and so I did, standing in the street and snapping away my camera like one idiot. Then I messaged SJ to tell him that it’s snowing and he replied that he is the Edward Scissors Hand guy who made this all possible for me to witness before I leave the land again. Then I called mum to tell her how cold it is and strangely that I feel really warm inside, so warm that I had only my Tees underneath the thick jacket. Wow! Look at the people shivering and I am there in the cold and everyone must think I am mentally unstable! Well, I don’t care, I just want to feel the cold of the snow and also, I promise someone I will take a close look at the flakes if it should ever snow. And I think she must have prayed for me to see it with my eyes, so I did.
That whole night, I stood by my window, and video-clipped the quietness of the snowing world. It was simply beautiful and my heart is warm and my mind is calm and clear. I will never forget that first snow, the chill and just the quietude of the world and I finally got connected.

월요일, 12월 05, 2005 [Before Sunset–finding the missing piece]

Line 4, Myeongdong station, exit #9.

We planned to meet for my last day in Seoul and then I will be off to another land. The snow from last night has melted and it formed this thick coat of slippery ground that makes it quite a challenge to walk on. Had to start our itinerary as early as possible and so we met at a quarter after 3 in the afternoon.
The air was chilly, the wind howling ferociously, like a beast devouring the very warmth left in your body. Then I got the wrong exit and had to walk back to the main streets in/of Myeongdong. Of course it’s the pact that there might be more walking and talking today, yet the weather doesn’t seem in favour of this. Still, we walked, first to grab something to eat since the last meal we had was the night before. And we are to spend all my Korean won for the day, the mission unaccomplished. After a late lunch, we went on like all Koreans would, to another place for dessert. I wanted him to try out another coffee chain, not Starbucks like we always had whenever we think of coffee. And we did, the coffee bean and tea leaves franchise, ordered my usual latte and the heavenly taste of a Green Tea cheesecake and the ever so welcoming Chicago cheesecake. The creamy texture just melts in your mouth.
Don’t really remember what was said over conversation, too many topics in that hour or so. Maybe some cultural exchange and observation and then at one point, he actually said that we are having the session Before Sunset. Alas! He has some remnants of what we have exchanged over the year, at least he did meet me Before Sunset (pun intended).
After the tea session, it’s back to more walking and talking, but the lips got too numbed to even move in the wind. And pigeons flying downtown simply get him all hysterical…a guy with an allergy to birds and even poultry? That’s my “just kidding-don’t be serious” friend.
Well, he suggested going to the movie, the one movie we thought we would go watch together–Tim Burton’s “The Corpse’s Bride”. I wanted to watch that for quite some time and since we both love Tim Burton, it would be a good idea to do so, but I just don’t want to waste the few hours left in a movie theatre, I would rather we talk or just stay walking or sitting around in each other’s company. So we took refuge in a Norae-bang instead, and he really can sing well! Of course, I would love to hear him sing Cool’s “A cup of Memory” and he did. Yet, I still think he did well in his English numbers, with even more feel for certain songs. That was my first encounter with the Norae-bang, not sure how long I can remember but the singing perhaps resounding in the back of my mind.
And back to yet another cafeteria, more coffee and tea, more cheesecakes! The missing piece finally got found and life, at least quite a number of instances, does require an attitude of the missing piece. There is still a void in my heart, but it feels warm nonetheless.
My last Tokkboki dish was done in Dongdaemun, goodbyes are always said in Dongdaemun. I will remember the warmth of his right palm, even when my fingers were all frozen. And though I couldn’t feel his heartbeat when my hand is on his chest, I am just glad that his heart is warm.
And so is mine.
P/s Thanks to the “ajeshi” in this PC-bang who offered me a cup of hot coffee. It tastes sweeter than any coffee in the entire world… And so the fox said to the little prince, that he is going to cry because he has been tamed and that the little prince is leaving him behind. Yet, it is to be so and the hue of the wheat fields will always remind him of the colours of the little prince’s hair, perhaps, blowing in the wind…

7월 9, 2006

I believe the curtains have just come down
Finally the exit. The world-cup has ended with Italy clinching the trophy the 4th time. Zidane was sent off as cruelly as the shade of its screaming out loud red (card). And he left, hopefully with no regrets, leaving behind not only his silhouette, but a legacy for many soccer hopefuls to revel about. And so did heroes of other nationalities remain legendary, in one way or another… Figo, Kahn, Nakata and who knows how many more to come when the stage is set once again in South Africa in a turn of another 4 years.
And I took my bow, standing one last time on the stage of love and magic, moments before the curtains came down. SJ has found his mademoiselle, a scene I’ve anticipated and in fact rehearsed again and again in my mind. Yet, despite how I feel, am just glad he will be lonely no more…

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