I feel like I’m living in slow motion. As I sip on my coffee, the frantic hustle of a Gangnam street flows past me, familiar but somehow distant now I have nowhere to rush to. I feel the tears slipping down my cheek as I wait for a final farewell, one last unhurried conversation with the strangers who, over the past eighteen months, have become my closest friends.
In truth Seoul – at least the best things about it –died for me a long time ago. Stewart’s camp send off and Calum’s transcontinental exodus left a gaping hole, one that Tak’s decent into near marital inaccessibility and Marielle’s French odyssey only added to. It had all started to feel a bit empty: things weren’t quite the same, at least until recently. That doesn’t seem to ease the pain right now.
Seoul is more of a home to me now than I’ve found anywhere else since leaving for Warwick five years ago. I’ve felt like the people and place welcomed me with open arms. I’m – sorry, was – part of a scene that is so imbedded in my life and the way I live it that leaving – melodramatic as it sounds –feels like leaving a part of me far behind.
I’m a realist. Travelling has taught me that almost all things are transient. Letting the scene change around you is no different to moving on, except you miss out on the new and exciting experiences everyone else is already having. The same goes for people. It’s all very well trying to keep everything as it is, but in reality if you don’t change, well everyone else probably will. It’s better to get out while it’s still good. The problem with that is moving away from people or places that will forever be part of you is – at least initially – like chopping off a finger: whilst in the long term you’ll function just fine without it, right now it hurts like hell.
I wipe away the tears and bury myself in my coffee as the first of my friends approaches. One more for the road, in truth, could well mean farewell forever. We never know when we’ll even be in the same continent again. It’s inevitable: the reduction of a close personal relationship to a bi-monthly email covering banalities and the vague possibility of a future reunion, albeit a brief one, that we both know couldn’t bring anything back.
It’s not the awkward send offs, the hushed tears or the last glance at Seoul’s lively sidewalks that will stick forever in my memory. It’s the passion, the friendship, those perfect days spent together, and everything else that went before it. This blog, though often about the places rather than people, is a tribute to how good it’s all been, thanks to you. I love you all. Love hurts.