Whenever I started to miss home, my next thought turned to: “but home doesn’t exist right now”. The thoughts also came and went about how if there, my social life would probably consist of the same video hangs I could do from where I was anyway. It did make it easier to be so far away but it also made me sad. I didn’t want the good things at home to disappear. Even if it meant that I’d have to miss them.
Starting off 2021, NYE was the first example of those ZOOM parties for the month. It had come and gone in S Korea but was still afoot in the U.S. and I was scheduled to attend Brigit’s. I stayed at home for a while waiting for go time but got bored so decided to head downstairs to the kimchi jjigae restaurant to have a drink and maybe hang with the woman who ran it. To my pleasant surprise, she did indeed join me and we had our own New Years celebration. She even drank with me and the folks in the video party. That didn’t last long, though, since they were already a few sheets to the wind. In fact, it was so chaotic that I couldn’t hear the countdown at midnight. That was an annoying letdown but it still made for a satisfactory way to bring in the new year over all.
Another snow storm was on it’s way but before it hit, I managed to make it to a spot called Hallim Park that had been on my list for a while. It was nice but looked like it would be ten times more beautiful in spring when the then bare trees were all in bloom. Enjoying getting in a video chat in with Mom and Pop while there, I closed the day by heading out for a nice (and chilly) walk along the beach on that beautiful island afternoon. It was the kind of day that added up to be what I would most remember about the good stuff of the island.
Days out were less frequent with doggos at home. They weren’t wasted though. It was fun watching how much Pumpkin and Blue loved the snow once the storm had hit, though it broke my heart to see the pup outside the back of the building chained up with next to no shelter. Teaching from home for a couple weeks (thanks to Covid) gave me a chance to keep an eye on him but already having two growing pups inside made it too hard to bring him in. I also didn’t know if the owner would let me. It was breaking my heart and I was spinning my wheels nonstop for ideas of what I could do. An idea that I went for was to post on a Facebook group called Jeju Animals asking for help to make a shelter. To my luck, a South African woman and her husband replied and came out to make him a tarp tent of sorts and he loved it. While I still wasn’t happy about him being out there neglected and living on top of a sewage drain, it was a huge improvement. Such a sweet boy finally got to have some kind of home.
Just over a week into the month, it was time for Kathy’s birthday and I had a ridiculously silly idea (the best kind) that had me giggling before even getting started. Sleds were sold out everywhere because of the snow the island rarely saw so I decided to make our own out of cardboard. Starting it myself, K finished it with a K&R on the front (for Kathy and Robin) and we fooled around like little kids trying to get the three pups to take us dog sledding. To our surprise, the sled held up well, but all the dogs did was stand there most of the time, making it even funnier. After that was dinner and drinks in the downtown City Hall area. First BBQ and then we headed to a wine bar that made her too sleepy, though she woke up again for our big finish at a bar called Hitchhikers Lounge where we always went for at least one Long Island. Putting her in a cab at the end, we were both happy and listed it as a great success.
The next week was a different kind of puppy love as my time with Blue and Pumpkin was coming to an end. They started to lose their baby teeth during those last days which made me even more sad as I dealt with the chaos of their upcoming departure to the US. The minutes ticked on and the weekend of goodbye finally came. One hell of a weekend, actually, as I was the one flying to Seoul twice. First to take Blue and one of the other blueberry farm pups and then again for Pumpkin and another pf the pups before work on Monday. The night before the second two had included taking care of the little cutie, though Pumpkin hadn’t been thrilled about. Having to deal with the headache of the man set up to fly the second set of pups and having to find an emergency foster for that one I had taken overnight (turned out he was too young to get on the flight) on top of all the other chaos helped with distraction from being too upset most of the time but I knew that it would hit at some point. Maggie was there to talk me off the cliff on the night I did finally turned into a mess from losing “my” boys.
It was such a mix of emotions. The pups I had been raising for thee months and gone through a ton for were leaving me. It was an exciting success but I was heartbroken (and broke) at the same time. Joking with myself, I was really wishing masturbating the hysteria out of women was still a thing. Or that I could at least find a damn lover in that barren of potential man land. Instead I just had to live with and in it. At least until I started getting pictures of them from their new homes where they were loved and spoiled to oblivion from the first moment. It was also entertainingly wild how Blue ended up in my San Diego beach town with his new auntie while waiting for his new mama to pick him up for a permanent life in the mountain lake town I went to growing up and still hit on my way to Burning Man. Also how Pumpkin ended up with my neighbors in the Santa Cruz mountains. It meant I could still see them when I was back home. That helped save my little aching heart.
Within days, I was sneaking in the pup from outside for occasional sleepovers and what I assumed was probably the first shower he ever had. I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to, though, thanks to my health crashing. No doubt from running myself ragged the weekend before and then into a cycle o0f multiple symptoms playing off each other. The most noticeable was a cold bad enough to get me sent home from work. My platelet number crashed, no doubt from the cold, and blood pressure was spiking, which I suspected came from an insomnia spell that included a series of mini-seizures. I definitely wasn’t feeling great. Regardless, I kept trying to help that pup and also was trying to find a litter I had become ware of in the forest on my walk to the bus. Alas, while the food I put out was eaten every night, I never found them. Not any of the living ones at least. There was one dead puppy I had to walk by every time I went looking. A sad reality and a big reminder.
The weekend after the pups left, right before the cold hit hard, I had managed to walk down to the beach for a lovely afternoon and overnight staycation in an old rundown hotel with a tub looking overlooking the ocean. Sitting in there for over 8 hours while reading Harry Potter (I was going to be working on the book with a student), drinking wine and eating strawberries and fancy cheese, it was definitely a record-breaker for the most time I had ever spent in a soak. Much needed R&R both physically and emotionally.
Hello 2021. Nice to meet ya.
Dead pup I had to walk by every day to try to save the rest of it’s litter below…