Hatty Lee (she/her) is currently wrestling with the Hebrew Bible, contemplating a second Master's (thanks to the steep Ancient Near Eastern language requirement for doctorate programs), repotting house plants and cooking Mexican food while staying put in Koreatown, Los Angeles, where folks are good about keeping their masks on. She believes in expanding voting rights, hosting Zoom communions and Suheir Hammad. You can find her blogging at callmemehetabel.wordpress.com.
These over-the-top acts of neighboring in Seoul, by people who would be strangers in any other context, weren’t driven by any utilitarian or ideological function. They didn’t demand that I somehow prove my belonging first before intruding into my life in ways usually reserved for intimate relationships.
It’s past midnight in Korea Standard Time on a Tuesday, and I’m up writing with no rush to get up early tomorrow, as I only teach two days of the week. This nocturnal rhythm is quite normal for many English instructors in Seoul.
A 10-year-old girl looks out to a bare and large soccer field of her elementary school. Standing on the elevated platform, she can see all around her meaningful landmarks from her first decade of memories in Ilsan, Korea, all she’s ever known.
I came across this line in the book “The Cultivated Life”, and it moved me. The author described a forest after a wildfire, with trees leveled down to charred stumps and dead branches, and then, suddenly, a green shoot peeks out from the ashes. Yes, some seeds only open up in destruction. But until that flash of color, death is present — acute and chronic pain, grief, desolation.