Today after a break from squashing rubber sat and wiped my sweat with a small towel and threw it in a bin where it could be washed with detergent and dried and folded and stacked so that it could be used to wipe more sweat again. Around and around. Someone was resting and reading a sheet of giant advertisements neatly partitioned into cubicles of offers(9850won for a gas range, 1000won for three tubes of toothpaste).
He smiles at his wife and lifts his voice so she can hear. "Two weeks ago we used to look automatically at diapers and baby milk."
She smiles back and comfortably folds over another sheet of the newspaper that she's reading. I am hit suddenly by the importance of small things that rub off on uncertain surfaces.
Outside at 11 sat outside in the center of my little six-thousand apartment complex world. The television said that there would be shooting stars at the rate of one a minute, tonight. Instead I was waiting and watching the living-room lights of two thirty-storey buildings blink in and out like Star Trek control panels and futuristic toys and New York skyline time-lapse movies.
Listening to Blew Away reminds me of two beds and a lone ceiling fan in a room lying face down half-asleep and half-alone and half-enjoying it and half-hating this melodrama and half-here and half-spread thin like oil one-molecule thick. Lots of horns beeping outside. Pinging sounds tell me that a motor scooter's turning a corner. Book tells me about the Wizard of Oz and Tendulkar and fatwas. There are things that I have to do that aren't important now but will be important in the middle of a bus ride or in the subway. Email teacher, friend, call, write that down. When I stop in transit they disappear, like magic tricks, back palms, le tourniquet.
Now they tell me I can straddle borders and keep my dual-identity if I go to the army for two years and two months. Make that two years. Two years away two years running and two years holding guns. Two years in lines and two years wriggling under barbed wire and two years in simulated pepper-gas chambers and two years ziplining and two years on duty. Maybe. Maybe not.
Yesterday night watched a game of soccer. Football. Same thing. (Maybe not.) It started at two am local time and I watched and chewed on a inkless pen as the ball danced and came and went and flew here and there. Two announcers talking with the background noise of twenty-two thousand people packed together. When the camera zoomed out you could see two red patches in a field of blue. Two Korean patches full of supporters jumping and yelling creating islands of difference in Greece. Pass and shoot and cross and offside and corner and throw-in and tackle.. But goooooooooal but goooooooooal but oh. But oh. Ended two-two with ten people in the end and in the middle of the night I turned my television off and looked out my window and noticed the glow of other televisions in other houses still on at four am. Camaraderie, I thought.
Somehow I lulled myself to sleep despite the rush of it all and as I slept I thought, ' What would it like to be here again next year cheering for my country-that's-not-my-country?' A part of it truly but metaphorically not. Like a daughter that isn't your daughter because of divorce law. Two years is a fortieth of eighty. Two years is an eternity at eighteen and (people tell me) a second at sixty. Two years. Maybe not. Maybe.