Friday, January 26, 2007

life n' shit

Friendship is a diverse endeavor; layer over layer of intensity, mercy, strength, and weakness. It has a rare quality in its fleeting or stamina. You will always remember. Years from now, when the name escapes your tongue, a sudden surge of nostalgia will reconstruct a memory, a glimmer of the eye, a subtle texture of differences, and regardless of the distance that’s grown between, you will always smile fondly.

Friendship is an education of the heart. It will teach you how far you will go, how willing you are to bend or break, and with what urgency you move through a particular time in life. I will have many moments in years to come that throw me back into the heart of my life in Korea. I owe the greatest debt of gratitude for rediscovering myself, and how much we all need each other, to my friend Ali.

Some of you have taken the time to read his website and comment on his ordeal. But there is more than what is posted on a page. Letter after letter, his face materializes in front of me.

He is young and full of hope, resilient even when his soul feels cold and his mind is numb. In his darkest hours he wonders if he’ll ever feel his mother’s arms around him, again. Yet even in that doubt, he will be the first to reassure his mother that he’s coming home. His thoughts bend painfully when he considers the life that has been stolen from him, but the future inspires him to continue with a smile. He pushes against the weight of his wrongful imprisonment with the strength of a thousand men, but does not push anyone to believe him unless their heart is in it. He assures me everyday when I look over his letters, his trial, and his story. He inspires me everyday; I do have a voice in this world that’s louder than the buildings crumbing under the weight of human indifference, war, and conceit.

Friendship . . . it binds us together to face the bitter elements of this world, so that even when we falter there will be a piece of our heart that keeps us on our feet.

I am willing to bend.
I am willing to break.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

back at it

I returned to martial arts this month, and lucky for me, my muscles have good memory. The first three weeks back have been relatively painless, and it's been nice to be back in the dojang working out with Alex. I look forward to having my butt kicked into trekking shape by the time March rolls around. Hopefully we'll make one last trip out to Damyang to hack away at some bamboo, too.

Friday, January 5, 2007

thank goodness for good friends

With the help of our two closest friends, we negotiated with the landlady today for an additional month (our lease ends on February 3rd). It was rough-going for awhile. She was insisting we sign for an additional 6 months, sublet & give up our deposit ($3,000- unlikely story, sister), then it was to pay double rent for the last month. At this point a mild panic began to overtake me as I thought of all the extra stress that would come from having to live with Alex's boss. Alex may have actually lost his mind in that case.

Lucky for us, Seung-gyun and Ki-hyeok are well-versed in the art of haggling. Game faces on, calm, questioning the landlord very subtly until she came around to what they deemed a fair price. We will pay an additional ₩150,000 ($150) for our last month, which is more that reasonable compared to the first options.

With that mess out of our way, we divert our attention to selling furniture and the miscellaneous odds and ends we've acquired over the past couple years. If all goes well, in two months we'll be leaving with only backpacks and some extra coin in pocket.