Sprawling city, circa 2009.
I found this photograph, among other items of interest, in a box, a box I had tucked away many years ago. I am surprised I printed out many of the photos I took then, then being such a revoltingly slow start of the digital age. Sprawling Seoul City, I remember you well, if only because my memory is so thoroughly entangled in my desire to make things up. (This, if nothing else, has not changed, and for that, I am thankful.) I remember how I was so amazingly impressed at first glance. I was floored; I was enthralled. Dear Lord, have mercy, I would say, at the slightest thing, because all of it, from the women to the traffic, took my breath away. It was all so new. Three days felt like…like nothing at all. Three days could have been three weeks, or three years. I had no sense of time’s movement. Too caught up, as I was, in the gorgeous magic of arriving in the city for the first time. No shock then, that at first all my reports consisted of synonyms of the adjective amazing.
Sorry, dear city, for I left you for another. And, yes, by the time I made it back, I perhaps had had too much to drink to notice you in the ways I did during that first week. I felt not that same jump in my chest, and I noticed none of your subtle qualities, those things which may in fact give anyone more weight with which to call you amazing. Forgive me?
By my third trip, the third in only six months, the one during which I had taken this newly found though tragically old photo, I had realized what I had missed not only on the second outing but on the first arrival as well. In short, I had missed everything. I was in awe again, I remember this well, so as to not let in any doubt, but this time it was not because you were so new to me, city of mine. It was — and if you yourself wish to disrupt this new perspective of mine, try as you might, but I will believe nothing else — it was for one reason alone: I found myself in the places I traveled. I remember once again being struck with amazement, this time without the religious utterings. No, this time, when struck by the slightest things, I saw them for what they were. I saw, sprawling city, circa 2009, that I could have found happiness surrounded by your cosmopolitan air.
So one question remains. After all this time, will you have me back again?