Thursday, December 17, 2015

Catching the Scent

Hafiz says, "I have become a foreigner to every world except that one in which there is only You and me."

I'm beyond grateful to have Jeremy by my side through this transition from one culture to the next. He is my home. And there's no place I'd rather be.

I'm amazed on a daily basis--all the ways in which Korea and America are so different. There are so many "normal" parts of my life as an American that just do not exist in Korea, like:

-Diversity. Not real big in Korea compared to the States. Quite homogenous.

-Big, diesel trucks that people drive even if they are hauling nothing at all. So many in Korea are on board with conservation. We seem to be the only ones in the world still arguing about climate change.

-Guns. People carrying them. And signs prohibiting people from bringing them into an establishment. The first one I saw in Nashville, I thought it was a joke. And then, I remembered where I was.Tr

-Boats/campers/toys. Where would one store such a thing? No one has a garage.

-Garages and tools. Most of the population lives in apartments. So why would one own a hammer or a tool belt. Most of the work is done my landlords and mechanics.

-Hobby Lobby or any kind of big, craft store. Oh, how I've missed you!


-Mexican food. Taco Bell. Avocado. Cilantro.

-Root beer. Mmmm.

-Decaf coffee! Yay for coffee after 3pm! For some reason, they just didn't have any that we could find in Korea.

-Bibimbap (a traditional Korean food) for $18 where it normally costs $4 in Korea!

-Cleavage. Just not a thing. I saw more cleavage in our first week in America, than I saw in two years in Korea.

-Leggings. In America, some women wear leggings as pants (that's a whole 'nother blog that I will never write), but Korean women wear them with a built-in, attached skirt thingy.

-Shirtless runners. We are quite a risqué bunch by comparison.

-PDA. A couple snuggling on a blanket in the park might as well be sex to me now. Kidding, not kidding.

-Obesity. Just not a prevalent thing in Korea.

-"Bless you", what a strange thing we say when someone sneezes. But I have to admit, when I'd sneeze in Korea, I'd kind of wait for it. Wait for it...Now Jeremy and I say, "Go to hell!"

Lately, I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible
and this quote made a lot of sense to me:

"Once every few years, even now, I catch the scent of Africa. 
It makes me want to keen, sing, clap up thunder, lie down at the 
foot of a tree and let the worms take whatever of me 
they can still use.

I find it impossible to bear.

Ripe fruits, acrid sweat, urine, flowers, dark spices, and other 
things I've never even seen--I can't say what goes into the composition, 
or why it rises up to confront me as I round some corner hastily, 
unsuspecting. It has found me here on this island, in our little town, 
in a back alley where sleek boys smoke in a stairwell amidst the day's 
uncollected refuse. A few years back, it found me on the Gulf Coast 
of Mississippi, where I'd returned for a family funeral: Africa rose up 
to seize me as I walked on a pier past a huddle of turtle-headed 
old fishermen, their bait buckets set around them like a banquet. 
Once I merely walked out of the library in Atlanta and there it was, 
that scent knocking me down, for no reason I can understand. 
The sensation rises up from inside me and I know you're still here, 
holding sway. You've played some trick on the dividing of my cells 
so my body can never be free of the small parts of Africa it 
consumed. Africa, where one of my children remains in the 
dank red earth. It's the scent of accusation. 
It seems I only know myself, anymore, 
by your attendance in my soul."