and just as i was really starting to feel alone in korea, i came across an unassuming open-air restaurant in the middle of itaewon. and inside it, this scene.
i played soccer every weekend as a kid - there was a period when i started getting used to the pace of the people i played with, i got comfortable, and then i got bored. so to spice things up, i decided to play against the kids who played on the school team, the ones who had posters on their walls of the athletes whose jobs they dreamed of taking some day. and when i played those kids, i realised this whole time -i- had been playing with the safety on, i'd been maintaining a safe and uninspired medium. the people who took it seriously were on full blast, all the time, be it in a neighbourhood pickup match, or on the real pitch, with the ref and the lights and the uniforms.
this being my first time back in korea in nearly 10 years, and my first time being here alone, i expected to have a few of those moments that made me pause and just think, "...damn." either as a function of some latent emotional homecoming, or as an extension of a persistent sensory overload. i didn't expect any such moment to come hand-in-hand with a stabbing reminder of my suburban childhood.
so shortly after taking this photo, i went in to the bar, racked up a tab on enough food and drink to stick around until dj agassi (whose name i didn't learn until later) finished her set. it was transformative, really, listening to her. i thought i had just about figured out korea, the pace, the flavour. but being tucked away in Ramie's (the restaurant) mathematically nursing a cheap beer and literally enjoying myself more thoroughly than i had in the sum total of the time i'd spent in korea thus far, i felt really inspired. more inspired than i had all year! i chatted for a moment with dj agassi after she wrapped up. it was nice. really, really made me think, "hmm, this could work."