whoa

the last few days were a maelstrom of change.

Tuesday

Go into the office as usual, expecting to stay my usual 8 hours and come back Weds and Thurs to deskwarm as well.

At 10 a.m., Coteacher 1 comes in and surprises me with the news that this is my last day at my main school, and that I should gather my things, go say goodbye to the principal, and wait for Coteacher 2 from my other (now my only) school to pick me up.

I rush to stuff old folders and documents into my bag, thankful that I had already cleaned and organized my desk last week. I lock the office door for the last time and walk downstairs to the principal’s office. For the first time since the start of the semester (when he invited me to his office for coffee and a chat), I knock on his door.

“예” I hear from inside (“ye” means yes, but is also a handy dandy response for a variety of situations including “I acknowledge your knock, please come in”)

I crack open the door cautiously and greet him with the usual bow. He instantly knows why I’m there. “Maddy, I am so sad,” he says. “I’m sad too,” I say. He tells me he was happy to meet me. He asks, “May I call you sometime?” I say yes. (He won’t.) He says, “How can you understand me so well?” Still ever-convinced that his English pronunciation is incomprehensible, apparently. I want to say how grateful I am to him for being so kind and chatting with me all year and supporting me, but it’s too difficult in the moment to think of how to express those thoughts without making a complicated sentence that will be hard for him to understand. So I just smile and say thank you, and he shakes my hand, and I say goodbye.

Then Coteacher 2 picks me up, and her energy is contagious. She is here to help me start moving right away, so we go to my room and I thank the Lord that it’s mostly clean even though bags and suitcases are everywhere. She helps me take some of the biggest stuff to my new place. Her tiny, barely-5-foot-tall-in-her-4-inch-platform-sandals self hauled my 40+ lb suitcase up three flights in spite of my protests. She is a bundle of energy. I’m so thankful for her.

We meet my landlady. I pass a few other tenants on the stairs and to my amazement, instead of solemnly passing by, they make eye contact and say cheerfully “Hello! Nice to meet you!” in English. Whoa.

I meet the landlady’s sister. Apparently she is visiting from New Jersey where she lives. Her children live in Boston. She tells me animatedly that if I have any problem or question, I can ask her (and she’ll translate for her sister). At least until she goes back to the U.S. in a few weeks.

Coteacher 2 and I finish unloading her car. We go to lunch with the staff of my school. (from here on when I say school, I mean my former “small school” and now the only school I work at) It’s bossam and it’s amazing. I discover that the Korean language teacher from my old school has transferred to this school this year, so she and I greet each other in surprise and that strange joy that comes from seeing even a semi-familiar face in a new place. (She doesn’t really speak English, but it doesn’t matter.)

That night, I prepare all the rest of my bags to be moved and give my room one last sentimental look as I remember moving in a year ago.

Wednesday

8:50 a.m., my (technically former) Coteacher 1 calls me – “Maddy? I’m outside your building. Please open the door.” Good thing I was up and ready. I let her in and endure the few minutes of weirdness while she surveys my room, eye-snooping as one does when seeing somebody else’s room for the first time. The gas man arrives and checks the meter. I have to pay about $130. I don’t know why. I’ve never had to pay that much for my gas bill. Oh well. I pay it.

The electric company says I have to pay $9 for electricity. Well that’s more like it. I pay it.

Coteacher 1 explains that Coteacher 2 can’t make it this morning because she has to take care of her kids, so Coteacher 1 will go the extra mile and help me finish moving, even though I’m technically no longer her responsibility.

We load her car. We unload it at the new place. We come back for Round 2 and a guy from administration and a guy from security are waiting at my old building. They have to inspect my room. We let them in. Security guy sits on the bare mattress (definitely leaving that thing behind) and bounces on it a few times. Administration guy checks a few things. Then all three of them help me load the rest of my stuff into the car (including 3 pairs of boots and 4 winter coats… I have a problem okay?).

Coteacher 1 helps me unload one last time and has to hurry off to a meeting. I thank her. She says she doesn’t want to say goodbye, and she’s sad. I say we’ll see each other again. “Yes, see you again,” she affirms.

Then I am alone with my bags and bags and BAGS of stuff. I start cleaning. The building is brand spanking new, so instead of cleaning mold and layers of dirt from other tenants, I’m cleaning construction dust and debris. I take a shower, one which actually stays hot and maintains a steady water pressure. It’s heavenly. I go to the local supermarket, 2 minutes away on foot, and it is actually super, full of everything I could possibly need. This is incredible.

My bed hasn’t been delivered yet. I sleep on the floor.

Thursday

I spend most of the day unpacking and organizing. It feels like way more than 24 hours since I moved.

I sleep on the floor.

Friday

Although it doesn’t quite feel like home home yet, I’m so happy with the new place. I have four – FOUR – windows. My old place had a tiny one in the bathroom and one in the laundry room, about 3 feet away from anther building, letting in next to no natural sunlight. Even on the sunniest days, if I turned off the lights it was pitch dark in my room. Having sunshine and seeing the sky is so luxurious.

The closet is bigger. The kitchen is bigger, new and sparkling, with brand new appliances (fridge, gas range, microwave – all provided with the room). The bathroom is bigger. Basically everything is a total upgrade but it’s still within the budget for school-provided housing according to my contract.

When the bed arrives (which should be later today) and I have everything more organized, I’ll post pictures.

Happy Friday!

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