Monday, December 30, 2013

The Time Avalanche

One more day and the year is done. They seem to do that, go by. Passing faster and faster like a time avalanche, the more that gathers the faster it goes. I assume one day I'll feel over taken by it. Caught up in the time avalanche: afraid for my life, happy in the memories, unable to look ahead.
So we start another story in the series (if it can be called that). This one a touch sadder and more dear.

There is a lady that lives next to me with her son. She is elderly and her son is in his forties with a disability of some sort that leaves him unable to work. It's common in Korea to live with your parents until you are married. But you have to understand one thing: I live in a studio smaller than most hotel rooms. For me this is do-able, I actually have a bit of a thing for tiny houses so this is right up my alley. But for an elderly mother and middle-aged son... I'll just say I can't imagine this being comfortable. They seem fine though, no squabbles or fights, believe me I would know.
The day I moved in we (3 of my wonderful co-teachers, a wife, a daughter, and I) were cleaning the apartment and left the door open a crack. Next Door Neighbour was there in a heartbeat. Asking questions, wanting to know where I was from, who I was, what I was doing here. I, of course, understood none of this and my co-teachers prodded her away with smiles and polite answers as they shut the door.
Every day Next Door Neighbour and her son go out to collect cardboard to sell to the recycler. I see them walking. Sometimes he's in front, sometimes she takes the lead with her makeshift cart made from an old baby stroller. Whenever I have empty boxes I leave them in the hallway, on top of the pile of broken down cardboard that continually transitions from collection, to doorstep, to recycler. Each time I see them in the elevator or walking up the steep hill to the apartment I bow a greeting and say hello. Next Door Neighbour usually regales me with some story or questions, none of which I can understand let alone provide a response to.
I once saw Next Door Neighbour in a group with several other ladies that spend their days collecting recyclables. I had never seen her look so content, animated, and happy. I bowed my hello and she didn't notice. It was the best thing I'd seen in a while.

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