Eight years and now it is time to go and so it felt appropriate to mark the occasion with a few clumsy words, a few choice phrases, perhaps even a memorable anectdote.

None of these I have to offer.
Eight years in Korea has been so much and so little, has been the grandest high and
The depth of despair (even that was in a single afternoon).

It is the love of my life and another who left me, as I am sure another left her.
It is about the memories I leave behind because very few people are left.
It is about the drops of maturity easing through my veins like morphine, tingling at the promise of what could be, of what could have been.

It is time to go.

I have felt it for quite some time. At times, I feel lethargic, yet rarely afraid. My greatest always stands before me, thus says the fool. Without this optimism I do believe I would wither and die.

My lady comes with me and together we will wed and live and travel. Together we will make a life. That is the touch of permanence I seek. Separately, I will struggle with my sense of legacy and worth as if I have to justify my being alive every step, with every struggle and every breath. My atoms need cause, my organs need purpose, my brain needs ego. Perhaps I will find that in America.

America. I go there now full of hope and dreams, like my ancestors did. It is not the same place it was then, but it still has worlds of potential. I want my piece of that.

The world will always call me out, always wondering what is going on in some corner of some neighborhood eleven thousand miles away. Those closed doors, those shadowy reflections of movement, those sounds and smells. My heart is free within the senses.

My heart is free within her, within them, within God. My heart is free in motion, like a big ugly bird, clamoring through the sky, crashing into trees, smiling, barking, laughing, living. My heart is like a big goofy bird.

It is time to go. Somewhere elsewhere I will settle for awhile. Somewhere elsewhere my soul will settle knowing that some have gone and some have yet to appear. My soul will be satisfied someday elsewhere that they are not here with me, they have gone, others have come, yet they have gone. They huddle in masses in neighborhoods eleven thousand miles away, behind shudders and shades and curtains, casting shadows on plaster walls, electrifying the imagination.

This is Romance. This is living, living in the imagination, in the thought of what is possible. In the purpose of will, gleaned from the divine, cast in doubt and forged with human passion, this is love. This is my Korea, the one in my big goofy heart. This is my Jennifer.
The adventures will one day end, but it is not now. The imagination will one day cease to cast me in these neighborhoods with their shadows and shudders, but it is not now. I will save that for when I die. That is another world and it shall have its due when God wills it. For now, I will reside over my little neighborhood in Seoul, circling, looking, waiting for the next opportunity to run riot over a defenseless sky like a big goofy bird.

I will say goodbye.

I will say good luck.

I won’t say forever because we don’t know what that means.

It is not a word for me.

I will say I love you.

In my own goofy way, from eleven thousand miles away,

Circling, looking, waiting.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

2 thoughts on “Leaving Korea”
  1. Sooooooooooooo beautiful!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for letting us a glimpse into your big goofy heart……….. love you so much and am so proud of who you have become.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.