Thursday, December 07, 2006

Living in Korea (Part VI)

After several sleepless nights, I thought changing our sleeping habits might be more practical. We were already night owls and often slept late. I decided if I was going to be up all night unable to sleep and exhausted the following day, Lauren and I would just stay up all night and sleep during the day, or at least most of it. I started allowing her to stay up until she ran out of fuel. I'd stay up until the traffic and activity down below started picking back up and I could see hints of daylight. Then I felt safe and could finally sleep soundly.

As a result of the change, our normal daily routine was shot. We'd sleep until the afternoon between 12:00pm and 2:00pm. By the time we were up and moving around, we had limited daylight hours left to run errands or visit with friends at the cottage. There was often days that we never left the apartment if we didn't need to. In spite of how long and boring the days and nights were staying home, it was sometimes preferable to venturing out into the cold weather. On the days we did get out, we'd often arrive on base with only an hour left before the cottage would be closing. Regardless, we'd usually stop in for a short visit. Upon leaving the cottage, we'd typically ride the bus over to Camp Hovey to pick up our mail or sometimes go to the USO Club to call home. We also spent countless evenings just browsing around the PX and eating dinner, or what was actually lunch, at one of the fast food places before heading home to our dark, empty apartment. If we needed groceries, we’d hit the commissary last and take a cab home like we always did after grocery shopping. Sometimes the landlord would hear me come in and offer to help carry the bags upstairs, which was always nice. Otherwise, it required several trips after getting Lauren up to the apartment.

I wasn’t as fearful about arriving home after dark with all of the activity on the streets as I was about the long dreaded night I had ahead of me once inside for the night. Those nights were so long. We spent all of our time in our small living room until we went to bed. I'd read or write letters while she played or watched a video. She only had a few to choose from. VHS movies hadn't been out that long so we didn't have much of a selection at that time. If I were lucky enough to have one of Judy's six-hour tapes from the states, I'd watch it all in one night, including every commercial.

I had a Korean friend named Sohe (So-He), who dated a soldier in my husband's unit. When it came time to do laundry it was Sohe who carried the duffle bag of clothes to and from the laundry mat for me. I was so grateful that she'd volunteered to help. I'm not sure how I would've managed to do it alone. Honestly, I just didn't have the muscles needed to hoist and carry something that heavy and she did. I suppose I could've managed carrying smaller loads with numerous cab rides back and forth, but having her help was truly a blessing. We used the laundry mat on Camp Casey while the guys were away. I didn't need to go as often with one less person to wash for either.

One night I was watching the local news and saw a report about the discovery of some underground tunnels leading from North Korea to South Korea. At the time, I had no way of knowing that they’d been discovering similar tunnels for years and this was not something out of the ordinary. I was terrified. We were about twenty-five miles south of the North Korea border. In my mind it was a sure sign of plans for an invasion by the North Koreans. I was now facing the fear of a possible invasion along with everything else I’d been dealing with. It was overwhelming.

If we’d had a phone, email or some other means of communication I wouldn’t have felt so isolated and alone. I certainly would’ve run up the phone bill but it would’ve been worth it to keep my sanity. Thank God for Lauren. She was the only thing that kept me from officially going bonkers. I had friends, but no one I was extremely close to. One week we didn't make it by the cottage the entire week and I hoped no one was worried about us. I then realized it wouldn’t seem unusual considering our new and recent sporadic schedule. At that point, I found myself thinking that if anything bad were to happen to us, it would probably be two weeks before anyone would think to come and check on us. That thought made me feel sick. I was just ready for my husband to come back home and for my month of hell on earth to finally end.

1 comment:

paul/dad/grandpa said...

I noticed a 'goose egg' in the comment section..I'd read this a while back and found it interesting and another well written memory of your Korean exp. I just didn't get around to commenting on it and I suppose that happens a lot ...Every now and then I read something that i want to comment on in the media and just don't get it done..oh well..this time I got around to dunning it' keep it up, you are really blooming Carri/ love ya /paul/dad/grandpa