Sunday, June 24, 2007


I caught myself telling my folks that it would soon be time for me to be going "home."


In a sense, Korea has indeed become my home. It has fed me and sheltered me for about seven years now. I've had mixed feelings about being back in the States for reasons I won't go into here, but those issues notwithstanding, it's become a real question as to where "home" is.

The facile answer, I suppose, is that home is where your heart deems it to be. Why not simply say that both the States and Korea are my home? But life isn't simple, and the practical reality is that I have now spent almost a fifth of my life living in Korea.

I'm not having an identity crisis, mind you: I'm not questioning how American or how Korean I might be. I'm detached enough to be able to track how my culture-related sensibilities have evolved over time, and when all is said and done, I'm a Westerner. I know who I am. But the notion of "home"... that's a different issue.

As an expat who draws sustenance and income from another culture, I find that "home" has a lot to do with where my established routines lie, where my kosmos (order) is-- where the world makes the most sense. Whatever my complaints about living in Korea, whatever my joys, the fact of the matter is that seven years spent here means seven years of moving to a Korean rhythm. I'm often more aware of Korean holidays than I am of American ones; I can relate to the craziness of Korean traffic patterns at least as well as I grok the relatively sedate American ones; at this point, I shop more competently in Korea than in the States, because I know exactly where to go in Seoul to find what I need. I've established all these points de repère, reference points that allow me to connect the dots and navigate the Korean universe more or less competently, if not exactly fluently.

So it's a real question for me: what counts as home? I suppose my slip of the tongue indicates what answer I'm leaning toward. Monday morning is coming, and on that day I'm heading home.


No comments: