Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Colin...again...

Colin, Hayoung and I sat in a tea house in Seoul the evening before Colin was to depart from Korea. The tea house was a great find, somewhere in Insadong. There was writing on the walls, proclamations of love, friendship, napkins drawn on and hung around the walls, sometimes covering the pen on plaster. Throughout the tea house were relics of the past. Old metal fans, kitchen knickknacks, and other jetsam of days-gone-by. As sad as I was that Colin would be leaving the next morning, I was lost in thought, thinking about the antiques. They belonged to people at one point, people whom had gone, people whom had stayed and people whom have passed on. This is the natural process, the motion of us all. We're particles bouncing around this earth and all we leave behind are belongings and the memories, some passed into secret, some still held dear by those who knew the owners.
I started thinking about Colin leaving and having to say goodbye at Incheon Airport all over again. It's hard to put into words but I couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't him leaving as much as it was me who was leaving.
Colin went home this morning. In the grand scheme of things, what's the difference of me taking him to the airport and saying my goodbye as if he was staying in America and him taking me to the airport at MSP and saying goodbye to me as if I departed for Korea? I guess it's relative to the actually location of the parting, but it felt different this time. I felt guilty. Once again, the only Stanhill in Asia; once again, the only Stanhill away from Home, from culture and the family network that spans the U.S. I feel lonely. I feel like I'm the one who left, saying my goodbye all over again. I miss my brother dearly.
Last night, we stayed at the sauna at the airport (Incheon Airport is sort of awesome that way) and sat in the hot pool, the same way we did the night before he left for China August of 2011. It was all so familiar yet all so different, but why? Colin came to Korea last August a young adult, a college graduate and unsure what the future, a year abroad, would bring. Today, when we hugged before he entered the security area, he left a man, a sure-footed traveler and a master of the path which brought him back to me.
Today, I said goodbye to a brother, a friend and, for the first time, a man. That's enough.
Later today, I'll be picking up my friend Megan and her boyfriend Ben. They'll be staying with me for the remainder of the week as they round Korea visiting their friends who are now teachers like myself. I know Megan from Peace Corps; we were batch 267, Philippines and fellow members of the self-styled "Loser Crew".