So, my date for returning to the States is set! I took the plunge and bought a Singapore Airlines ticket for Wednesday, September 7th. So after transferring to Frontier Airlines in San Francisco, I should arrive in Kansas City on the 7th around 9:30 p.m. It’s funny, because I leave Seoul at 5:50 p.m. on Wednesday, and I get to KC on the same day a few hours later. It’s like I’m suspended in time over the Pacific. Wish I had ruby slippers and could tell the jet lag to f*ck off.
Speaking of Kansas . . . as Thomas Frank writes, “[Kansas] is the home of the bright boy in the mailroom who wants to be a player on Wall street. It’s where Dorothy wants to return. It’s where Superman grows up. It’s where Bonnie and Clyde steal a car and Elmer Gantry studies the Bible . . . . The state has an undeniable instinct for the average in real life, too. It is anti-exotic, familiar even if you’ve never been there. As a tourist destination, Kansas ranks dead last among the states . . . but it has been a prolific birthplace of chain restaurants . . . and it supplies the nation with anchormen, comedians, and actors of wholesome visage and accent inoffensive.”
Frank–a Johnson County native like myself–also relates the strangeness of leaving urban Chicago to visit JoCo: “Every time I returned, the developers had leapfrogged farther into the countryside, clicking off the once-unimaginable distances (119th Street! 143rd Street!) the way the Dow ascends past this or that landmark valuation. There was always some new suburban oddity to observe, some superlative to register, some combination church-mall to gawk at.”
Enjoying What’s the Matter With Kansas? immensely. In the process of writing a critical yet not bitter (hopefully) letter to Marie Myoung-Ok Lee to state my feelings about her Somebody’s Daughter that I finished last week and spent two nights fuming over.
I have this feeling that Korea will seem like Oz when I’m back in Kansas. I need to find a way to better integrate these experiences into the fabric of my life. Lately, I’ve been in a funk, because I’m so OVER my job here, and the grind of living & working in Korea has lost its luster. I’m ready to go back to the States to feed my American soul that’s withered these past few months. Yet, I feel like my heart has grown more Korean in being here–in meeting my birth family, connecting with the adoptee community here, facing my han. There doesn’t seem to be a physical location that complements this in-between-ness. Thank God for frequent flyer miles (and sending K. & S. to me in August! Asa!), almost as good as ruby slippers.