Sorrow floats

“Human beings are remarkable – at what we can learn to live with. If we couldn’t get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can’t have, then we couldn’t ever get strong enough, could we? What else makes us strong?”
–John Irving

The village of Anjeong-ri is a sad and depressing place. And yes, I’ve considered that I might just be projecting the sadness that permeates my life. But it is not that. At least not completely that. It is just hard to ignore the barren streets and sidewalks. The pathetic bars full of desperate juicy girls hoping for an overpriced drink to augment their meager salary. The old ajummas digging through trash for cardboard to recycle. The emptiness that seems to ooze from every crack in the sidewalk. Okay, maybe I am projecting on that one.

I guess I should be used to the “life” here by now, but I frankly can’t wait to get the fuck out of this burg. I guess the genesis of this rant has been watching several new businesses being opened that I know are destined to fail. I’ve watched these folks pour in their heart, soul and money as they worked so hard in pursuit of their dreams. Now I walk by on my nightly excursions to the bars, and see nothing but empty chairs and tables and the forlorn expressions of the owners as they wonder where the customers are.

Exhibit A. Pippi Burger. Watched these folks working hard for two months preparing to open for business. They’ve been open over a month now. I walk by at least twice a day at what should be peak hours. I’ve seen a total of 2 customers so far.

The newest bar in town. Just opened this past week. It has a bar that seats 4, a pool table, and a couple of other chairs. Even if they fill the place up (which hasn’t happened yet when I’ve walked by) I don’t see how they can turn a profit. I’ll have to drop in soon and see what it’s all about.

And finally, our new Philly steak sandwich joint. Looks nice. I’ve seen a couple of people getting take out, but it is really too far from the main gate to get much soldier traffic I reckon. Good luck!

Ah well, I’ll have a whole other kind of sorrow to view when I’m living among the poor folks in the Philippines. Barrio Baretto is similar in size to Anjeong-ri, but the expat residents are mostly old fuckers like me. At least we can share tales of our glory days. I’m focused on having meaning and purpose in my life there, I’ll just have to figure out what those are. Just over 3 months to go!

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” John Barrymore.

“I dream of having no regrets” John McCrarey

I did have some company this past weekend.

My old Shenanigans crew from Seoul came down to see what life here is all about. They too were shocked out how empty the streets and bars are. They may have even felt sorry for me a little.

On Sunday morning I fed them a hearty breakfast and they were back on their way to the big city.

I was actually even more lonely and depressed after they left. I guess once you are used to being alone, you don’t miss people so much. Until you get a taste of what is was like to have friends.

Well, I do have my bar friends here I suppose.

It was funny, I had no idea “JJ” was including me in her selfie. I had to laugh when she shared this pic with me. It might explain why I’m always alone. I’m oblivious to what is going on around me. I got to thinking, hey maybe she likes me. But then I remembered there is no point in pursuit. I’m leaving soon and she’s Korean. Been there, done that.

The quote at the beginning of this post is from one of my favorite authors, John Irving. The “Sorrow floats” reference is also from one of his books. It got me to thinking, when did I stop reading? It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a good book. I’m thinking that will be one activity I resume once I wrap my arms around retired life.

And I do love poetry. Recalled this poem today when I was chatting with a dear friend of mine (thanks for everything Eva!).

Will you be my friend?

There are so many reasons why you never should:
I’m sometimes sullen, often shy, acutely sensitive,
My fear erupts as anger, I find it hard to give,
I talk about myself when I’m afraid
And often spend the day without anything to say

But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And hold you when you’re sad.
I cry a little almost every day
Because I’m more caring than the strangers ever know,
And, if at times, I show my tender side
(The soft and warmer part I hide)
I wonder

Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who far beyond the feebleness of any vow or tie
Will touch the secret place where I am really I,
To know the pain of lips that plead and eyes that weep,
Who will not run away when you find me in the street
Alone and lying mangled by my quota of defeats
But will stop and stay – to tell me of another day
When I was beautiful.

Will you be my friend?
There are so many reasons why you never should;
Often I’m too serious, seldom predictable the same,
Sometimes cold and distant, probably I’ll always change.
I bluster and brag, seek attention like a child.
I broud and pout, my anger can be wild,
But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And be near when you’re afraid.
I shake a little almost every day
Because I’m more frightened than the strangers ever know

And if at times I show my trembling side
(The anxious, fearful part I hide)
I wonder,
Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who, when I fear your closeness, feels me push away
And stubbornly will stay to share what’s left on such a day
Who, when no one knows my name or calls me on the phone,
When there’s no concern for me – what I have or haven’t done –
And those I’ve helped and counted on have,
oh so deftly, run.
Who, when there’s nothing left but me,
Stripped of charm and subtlety,
Will nonetheless remain.

Will you be my friend?
For no reason that I know
Except I want you so.

I actually cried when I read it again. Sue me!

Anyway, I’m off to Seoul now. Will spend a lovely evening in Itaewon with the nephew, then hit the Army hospital at 0800 for some CT scans.

Life is grand, ain’t it?

3 thoughts on “Sorrow floats

  1. Is “Ephphatha” the name of a place in Pennsylvania? It’s a biblical term: the Aramaic utterance “Be opened,” which Jesus says the moment he heals a blind and deaf man. One bite of a cheesesteak from Ephphatha, and you can hear the universe speaking to you, I guess. Be opened!

  2. Should have seen it in 68-70. Probably 30 active juicy bars and 5000 ROKG supplied prostitutes.

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