10 days into quarantine in Iceland
It's odd to not have touched another human being since I entered the country. The last people I hugged were my Mom and Dad, as we parted at the security check at Dulles International Airport. It's been 7 days.
Amidst the rush, I was given a chance to right a wrong.
I flew out of Dulles in May of 2009, an 18-year old high school dropout with a one-way ticket to Ireland. I was determined to live a life of adventure and blamed my family for almost everything that was wrong in the world. They still lovingly helped me pack, fed me, housed me, gave me cash for my trip, and drove me to the airport. I remember my sister Liz tearing up, my parents too, as I whooped a final goodbye and cheered, more excited than sad. I told them I wouldn't call for at least a year, that they had brought it upon themselves. But I came home in five months. I had spent all my money, exhausted the hospitality of my friends, and reached some true lows. My parents bought me the plane ticket. I promised them I would repay them. I haven't fulfilled that promise yet. But I will. I wasn't a grateful son, I asked them for a ticket home within the first ten minutes of the first call since I had left them. I was done punishing them for a couple days.
In March 2020 flew out of Dulles with a one-way ticket to Iceland (only 1 letter different from Ireland...). We hugged. Yes, I know it isn't advised, but could you have resisted? At 28, I cried and wasn't thrilled to be leaving them. I told them in halting words that I love them and that I am grateful for their love, which never ended. This time, I have no desire to not see them or speak to them for months. This time, it's a real possibility that I won't. My heart aches a bit that I wasn't able to say goodbye to my other sister, Anna and her Husband and their child. It's not smart to be around babies. I didn't bow to my grandparents either. I wanted to do it through a window, but I know myself and my Grandma and there's no way we wouldn't have hugged. My Grandfather's had pneumonia, they're both at high risk. I'm sad about the forgotten goodbyes to my community in New York and my old friends in Virginia. Honestly, I can still feel my parent's warm embrace as I sit in this beautiful cabin.
Switching gears because I don't want the title of this entry to have been misleading.
I like watching the ads before my Youtube videos come on, because they are in Icelandic. In one of them, I saw my Aunt, or my wife's Aunt. Iceland is such a small and interconnected country. It's the little things that remind me that I'm no longer in America. The radio playing Icelandic songs. The different brands of milk and almonds. they spell "milk" as "mjolk." It's pronounced sort of like "yolk" but with a punchy M in the front. It's delightful. Everything is just a little bit more compact and economical compared to American sizes. There was a trailer for the new Vin Diesel movie, "Bloodshot." I'm sure it will be terrible and I will probably watch it. The trailer ended with a "Komen i Bio," instead of "Coming to theaters." Just nuts!
It's nice to take walks with Una and be six feet apart. Though it is getting harder to keep the perimeter strict, it's been 5 or 4 feet at times. In one alarming instance we were about 1-2 feet apart. I can see it being very difficult to maintain social distance if you live together or work with someone. It's fun to have loud conversations with my in-laws through glass. I'm ambling behind my love as she shows me her favorite childhood walks. My niece played peek-a-boo through the window with me. Taking short hikes in windy conditions. I'm using Instagram a lot, I'm documenting my slow descent into madness. Simul watching movies with friends back home, shout out to the most wonderful couple friends, Lara and Michael! Tiger King is an amazing documentary. Funny:
I got the day count wrong and realized I was actually on day four when I was actually on day six. Totally off by two days. Rams in Recovery had an online talent show, it was wonky and wonderful, and I got to reunite with the college people that kept me sober. My Father-in-law kept playing the role of a driver to my Miss Daisy, addressing me as "Mr. Roh" because I had to sit in the backseat on the way to the countryside. I gave him a five star review. No tip, though.
Una noted that I was raised religiously. In my family, you're not supposed touch or engage in physical ways before marriage. And although Una and I are married, we can't touch each other right now. No holding hands, no hugging, or dancing. It's my parents' dream come true. Just a decade or so too late. Better late than never? I'm dedicating this part of our relationship to the Korean Central Presbyterian Church and my older Korean relatives.
Kind of Sad:
I couldn't attend a funeral today because of quarantine. Maybe it was a blessing because the Icelandic government is now banning gatherings of 20 or more people. Easy to shave an American that can't be around human beings off the list. I'm sorry I wasn't able to say goodbye to you. Thank you for being so kind, wise and accepting. I'm grateful that you took me as an American immediately, even when I'm not always seen as one in the US because of my race. You were funny, a great dancer and created a beautiful family. Krew Krew! Sending my love with all the Ravens today!
So, there's a mixed collection of my life and the life of the people I love.
Thank you for reading. Please stay safe and feel loved wherever you are in the world