Motherland, it was great to see you.
It’s been a little over 2 weeks since we got back from our epic Honeymoon/Big Annual Getaway/Time to Get the Eff Outta Town Because We’re Going Insane hybrid-trip to our homeland, South Korea, and I’m feeling so, so sad that it’s over. Sixteen years away did a lot to change my initial feelings towards the Motherland and now I’m longing for her more than I ever thought I would.
Being older and (hopefully) wiser this time around certainly helped to bring a new perspective to my visit. The last time I was there, in 1997, I was only 14 and at the mercy of my parents and extended family. We were visiting for a month, a fairly substantial amount of time to be on vacation, but I remember it went by so quickly. The memories that still stick to me like I experienced them just yesterday: having to do assigned schoolwork so I wouldn’t fall behind; being shuttled from place to place, not exactly knowing where we were going and just ending up somewhere to visit another relative; getting so sick that I was bed-ridden for days and hating the local medicine (disgustingly bitter powder mixed with water into a paste – ugh). Of course there were some great times, but being on vacation that young and as part of a family unit, it doesn’t quite give a sense of ownership and true enjoyment. At times it felt like a chore; not really being able to stay in one place and enjoy. We were always being shuttled from place to place due to obligations and plans to meet up with as much family as possible.
So going back, it was like visiting for the first time, and I was doing this on my own terms. Sure, there were frustrating times. And some REALLY frustrating times. But overall, what an experience. As crazy and eye-rolly as it sounds, it was almost life-altering. It opened our eyes to what we were missing out in daily life. We’ve never felt so sad about a vacation ending before, and it was largely in part to truly being able to let loose and enjoy a city that is bustling and dynamic. The ugly truth is that it showed us just how boring our lives are in Calgary, but at the same time it allows us to start making changes so that we don’t look back on our younger years and have too many regrets.
The next few weeks I’ll be unpacking all of my South Korea photos (mostly of food) and memories (again, mostly of food), to relive and share those awesome times, in the hopes that keeping this record will keep reminding me to get out there, have fun, and keep my homeland in my heart until the next time I return to make new memories.