Sunday, September 28, 2008


Tales of Dreaded Commutes in Distant Lands

Someday, whilst the bards tell celebrated stories of my romance? Will authors and/or poets describe how my bride and I met by chance, just after the Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute happened to transfer me to the city of Chuncheon, a municipality that had thus far appeared trivial in mine eyes?

About how we met when she didst choose to go to an English camp, a curious decision, given that she had halted her studies of the language just before that? About how her decision to take a break from attending the institute’s classes thus exempted me from the SDA institute’s “teachers shalt not court students” decree?

If such men of letters do, in fact, choose to celebrate our story on the printed page, I doth ponder how they shall describe the daily train rides. Verily, I suppose it worth mentioning that I doth spend four hours daily journeying from our home in Chuncheon, where she doth make her vocation, to Seoul, where I tend to mine, and then back again. I sayeth that it must be worth inscribing, as when I tell mine friends and co-workers they doth demand an explanation, and occasionally to examine mine head.

Prepare ye then thine quills and/or psychiatric charts, so that I might elucidate mine situation. Verily, ‘twas this summer whence I wast troubled to mine very bones. Mine love’s generous mother had bequeathed to me a living space in Seoul, to accommodate my new job tempering the work of the scribes at one of Korea’s largest English-language newspapers (which hath been necessitated by many of said scribes lacking English as a first language). For three months did I take residence with her and her male prodigy, in grateful appreciation of her benevolence.

But lo, hath the thunderous voice of many a Korean matron startled the ears of the Western man, costing him many hours of rest and peace of mind. And, alas, the matron’s insistence upon preparing fish (the kind with the head and bones still attached) did trouble me in body and spirit alike.

Therefore, on a midsummer’s eve I found it needful to communicate my displeasure to mine beloved, telling her that I wast soon to be in the grips of madness most severe. We didst contemplate the logistics of mine relocating to Chuncheon that very night, but lo did my mother-in-law get wind of our plot, and plead anew that she might be hospitable. Thus was born a compromise: I would continue to reside amongst her and her ilk, provided she keep it down whilst I did sleep and vary the dinner entrees once in awhile.

I thus agreed to abide and express gratitude (feigned or otherwise) for the animal products she didst prepare until the day mine bride and I would be united, and I might get mine hindquarters to Chuncheon. As wise ones have pointed out throughout the ages, it is not good for man to be alone with his mother-in-law.

It wouldst be an arduous test of mine faculties, especially said hindquarters, to take the automated carriage for two hours both to and from Seoul five days a week. Mine co-workers didst express dismay and ponder mine rationale.

“Will thou not burn thyself out?” wast the jist of their queries. “Why dost thou not get an apartment between Seoul and yonder Chuncheon?”

They couldst not understand the bonds of love between myself and mine beloved, nor the bonds between her and the one-year contract she hath signed on her apartment. A two-hour ride home to see my love wouldst feel like no more than hour, tops, whereas the ride to work in the morning wouldst not be unbearable, as I could spend those two hours reading or studying mine love’s perplexing native language.

At dawn, when the alarm clock doth crow and I doth stagger from mind sleeping quarters, she hath already awakened to prepare me a sack lunch. Within an hour, I will have boarded yon train and embarked upon my voyage to Seoul. I wouldst use the time to finely temper mine mind for greater mental feats, through activities such as the study of Korean, the reading of great literature or producing literature of mine own, but more oft than not I manipulate my body into a position allowing the arms of sleep to overtake me.

Two hours hence, I shalt be in Seoul. In the evening, when the day’s labors art concluded, I board the carriage yet again, ardently studying Korean for periods of up to 30 minutes, before mine resolve doth beat its retreat, leaving me to stare vacantly at the countryside until I might return to mine dwelling place. Upon my return, the maiden greets me and, unfailingly inquires about what I did for supper.

“Time was, again, not in abundance, so I didst partake of McDonalds,” is the oft-said reply.

“Verily, ‘twas not a good choice,” she ripostes, and we retire, preparing to write another chapter in the morn.

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