Six Months

Two of Busan's happier citizens.

…even a blond, blue-eyed Belarussian asked me the perennial Busan question: what do you do with your spare time? With eyes of ice and glass she asked, in other words, this—how do you get over the fact that there’s nothing to do here? And she, she!, with her wisps of blond hair, blond like solar flares pouring off the disk of an eclipse, had married a Korean, had studied Korean in school and spoke it fluently, therefore possessed all kinds of advantages that I can only dream of—but the question nonetheless remained: when you aren’t trying to feed yourself, what do you do?

Can I even answer the question without injecting petty complaints and oversimplified prejudices into my words? Dare I even try? It’s a city built for a certain kind of person: businessmen in need of a drink and some karaoke after work will not encounter difficulties. I went for a walk last night after yet another inordinately strange day—an inexplicable exhaustion completely overpowered me; I napped as though buried sideways in a blue shaft grave—and on this walk I explored new territory near my apartment, but I found the same story as always: bar, furniture store, kitchen store, clothing store, bar, noraebang (“your own private karaoke”), gas station, drugstore, apartment building, supermarket, bar, noraebang, bar, noraebang…again and again and again. A few blocks of the city represent most blocks: the bakeries all sell the exact same bread. I’ve lived here for almost six months, so I expected that; I only left my room to escape cabin fever, loneliness, and stir-craziness. Six months remain here; when the time ends, I’ll dart away in a flash, and leave only a cloud of dust—sparked, of course, with lightning.

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