It’s Really Happening

So I received my visa number today, made an appointment at the Korean consulate in Seattle for 10:00 AM on Thursday.

I am arranging my transportation to Seattle, and my recruiter called me and told me to send her my visa confirmation so that they can research cheap flights to South Korea. So unless anything comes up between now and then, it is happening. These details are basically just a formality, from my understanding. I will be moving to South Korea to teach English for one year.

It is strange when things actually fall in place and happen. You have a plan, and it is executed, but between then and now, so much happens, and your perspective changes so much. But this is a broad statement that can be applied to anything.

I was pending on going to do this two years ago, but it was not the right time I suppose. I have memories of researching the EPIK public school program while I was working my first official ESL teacher job back in the Bronx in 2008. I didn’t wind up in Korea at that point, but in Southern California. And then Israel, then Egypt and Jordan. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon, for about a year and a half. I stayed put sometimes, working as a freelance writer or substitute teacher, but other times I ventured off, to Washington, to California, to Mexico, to Canada and back.

Right now I’m finishing packing up my room. It’s beginning to look less and less like my dwelling. My boyfriend already moved out.

I went to New York for a few days to drop off some of my informal clothes and pick up some warm weather/teacher clothes. Said bye to the city I was born for an indefinite period. Back here, I’m just tying up loose ends now, counting off the days, while taking care of the boring paper work and other errands.

I will miss Portland, I really will. I’ll miss riding my white Schwinn bike, which was the first bike I really learned how to ride with. I’ll miss the coffee, the air, the bridges, the concerts, the house I lived in, the cats in the streets, the 24 hour tacos and food carts, the creeps on the bus and the endless rose and vegetable gardens. I’ll miss my friends visiting me and going on adventures. I’ll miss my lifestyle. I’ll miss Oregon, the hot springs and the breezy coast and green forests and mountains. Maybe I’ll even miss the rain.

It is definitely time to move on. I’ve wanted to do this for a while. My contract is for one year, so I’ll certainly be there for that long. The future after that is uncertain, but I hope to determine some of that when I am there. I have many vague ideas, but nothing for sure. Right now, I’ll just hang out here in limbo and wait for things to work themselves out before I board the plane.

Riding Around Town

Portland can be a very pleasant city to ride around on bicycle. One of the reasons I decided to move here was because I would not have to buy a car. Sure there is public transport, but the city is set up especially nice for biking, and you do not have to squish against some unpleasant people.

Riding is especially fun when it is actually nice out and you are not being massacred by the thunderless rain, trying to keep your plastic hood shelled over your head by working against the force of the wind.

I think my favorite ride in Portland is from my house to the St Johns neighborhood via Willamette Boulevard. This is a long street that goes along the carved out road on the cliffs viewing the Willamette River down below. On part of this ride, you get an opportunity to see the hills of Forest Park on the West Side of the river. When you look at Forest Park from this perspective, you get a greater view on how the short trees change according to the season, whether light green in spring or deep green in summer, or red and brown in fall or naked in winter, against the pines that firmly stand forever tall and deeply green. You also get a wonderful view of downtown Portland, in a way that is always distantly hazy, and you can see the small and vague skyline, the fields of industrial, white warehouses, the Union Pacific tracks and the assortment of notable bridges.

Once you pass the university of Portland part, you are then in a largely residential area full of gridded small houses that usually have assorted yard sales in the warmer months. Further down, you begin to see the top of the minty green St John’s Bridge in the air from the distance, knowing you are approaching your destination.

The St John’s Bridge is especially scenic to ride under and look at the symmetry. It is situated above Cathedral Park, which is a manicured grassy field with loopy paths that take one straight downhill into the Willamette River shore. Though I would not recommend swimming in this river, some people do in fact enjoy it.

The St Johns neighborhood is a satisfying place to finally lock up your bike, full of friendly small businesses and casual strollers during the daytime hours. I’m fortunate that I live close enough to but far enough from St John’s to enjoy my journey and destination at a somewhat short reach.