Not that my mornings are calm.
My window faces the East, and so I am greeted by the Sun’s rays every morning. This would be wondrous if I could actually see the Sun peek over the horizon of the East Sea (unless you are feeling contrary, in which case it is the Sea of Japan) from atop my hill, but instead a sea of skyscrapers delays the Sun’s appearance, allowing it to get fully dressed for the day as if he were a performer getting into position behind the curtains. If you got lost the simile, the skyscrapers are curtains. But regardless, I get to see the Sun in all his glory without that pesky making-up and costuming business. His glory is bright and intrusive.
The school provided me with curtains. They are white like snow and allow me to view the Sun’s intrusiveness through their fibers as through a glass darkly. That is, very brightly.
In addition to my automatic lighting system, I am greeted each daily by matutinal thunder. It is my students daily, ritualistic obligation to wake me in this way. Loose lines form on the dirt yard, the students’ eyes bleary, but alert for the coming litany. The combination physical educator and dormitory supervisor descends from on high and nods to his chief officiant, the student body president. A call to attention, a call to at ease, a call to attention again, a bow to the educating supervisor to show respect for authority, a bow to the flag to show respect for blood shed, a bow to North and South and West and all directions in between (except East) to show respect for one’s own family (because few here would unabashedly admit to coming from an island nation of dwarves and monkeys), and then it begins. Its lyrics are eight words—hana, dul, set, net, tass, yass, ilgob, yadolb—with claps—hana, dul, set, net—and arm motions accompanying—tass, yass, ilgob, yadolb. Their bodies stretch lazily, their blood flows more quickly, their minds sharpen considerably, and then the run begins. There is a light padding of feet as athletic shoes—and sometimes slippers for those who were late getting up—hit the dirt, one footfall indistinguishable from the next eighty-nine. And then, the thunder, as they come around to the newly paved basketball court—a blessing because trying to stop and go on dirt is a sin, and a curse because as their feet hit the green painted concrete, they begin to run in unison. The monsoon season has long ago passed Korea by, thank the Heavens, but every morning in my initial haze I wake to think that it is raining despite the brightness of the light streaming through my window. Their feet pound to the rhythm of hana, hana, hana, hana. I am fully awake.
I can’t help but smile because they are the reason I came back. Every morning at 6:30 am, they remind me that they are still here, minds eager and ready for that 50 minutes of nonsense that is my English class.
My internal clock runs biologically now, like the cavemen of old. I manage without mechanical arms that tick and tock. I disregard displays on digital devices. When a student asks if I am a morning person or an evening person, I laugh. I am an afternoon person. I am most fully alive in the Sun’s glory. His Morning Noise. They have made me so.