When we arrived back in Seoul, it was pouring rain but everyone was already out. With our biggest umbrellas, we ventured out to Hongdae, the arts university district where my mom also studied painting. After a strong cup of coffee, I stayed out late walking around eating snacks and snapping photos.
Seoul is and isn’t the way I remembered it from my childhood–a haze of mountains and skyscrapers standing tall, side-by-side. And then there are these sudden moments of recollection. The details are profoundly ordinary, like the time I ordered a bowl of rice cake ramen with my friend Jiyun. We were only in third grade, and this was our first time eating out alone just outside of the school gate. We sat on stools nibbling on pickled dikon radishes when a middle-aged woman brought us the food. The noodles were perfectly al dente. I always overcook my noodles.
“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”
– A selection from “In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust