One Lonely Seoul

By Mack Wallace
My wife and I have been married for 45 years. I depend on her; she tolerates me. Having been full-time Crystal Beach residents for 9 years, then part-timers (once the grand babies came along) spending much of our time in North Texas for 6 more years, we are now living in Seoul, South Korea. A grand adventure. In early February, we were having a great vacation together in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I came back to Seoul while she stayed in Mexico for a writer’s conference, then went back to the States to visit with the grands and to participate in a Jane Long presentation. Since then, we have all gone through a life-changing event and neither one of us can travel.

I know that I have it much better than most. However, I deserve a little sympathy for being alone in a foreign country for who-knows-how-long, without the person in the family who makes our house a home. People say that home is where the heart is. I left my heart in Crystal Beach.

South Korea was the second hot spot in the world for COVID-19. We had a giant outbreak at a megachurch in Daegu, far from me. So, we had to cancel Melanie’s birthday trip in March to Bali! Doesn’t that sound like a little thing now?

Today, in South Korea, we are down to fewer than 10 new cases a day. About half of those are at the airport, with sick people coming home from abroad.

Seoul Tower

With my job as a federal contractor, I have to follow Department of Defense rules, which means that I can’t go out to eat or be in big crowds or anything like that. I’ve been working from home since late February. No haircut since before the trip to Mexico.

After a month or two, I got tired of frozen dinners and started cooking. Did you know that you have to clean the kitchen after every meal? In the past, when Melanie took a short trip, I would go for a week with one plate, a bowl, and a single set of silverware. Now, every night I have pots and pans to wash after I cook. I used to consider myself a great guy and load the dishwasher once a week for Melanie. More often, I would (generously) tell her to just leave them and she could do them in the morning. Also, it is very hard to cook three things and have them all get done at the same time. I am spinning around the kitchen like a dervish at the critical moment. I do not remember Melanie doing that. Now that I have to do everything myself, I appreciate the things that used to just happen without me noticing. Turns out, they don’t just happen.

I’m glad it has gotten warm here in Seoul, because I lost a button from my sweater. I have Hazel the Roomba and Alexa and I are quite friendly. I do laundry and the washer and dryer play a song when they finish. The song is in Korean. Melanie may not sing Korean, but if you know her, you know that she lights up the room. I am the moon in our relationship; I just reflect her light. I am an engineer and she is a personality.

Mack, in the Jane Long Presentation

I could get someone to sew on that button, but that would not fix the real problem. If you are with your family, you should appreciate them, even if they are driving you crazy just now.

We Zoom with our three boys once a week, so I am seeing them more than I have in years. They all came to Seoul at different times before the COVID outbreak, and that was great. Melanie also brought our oldest grandson over last summer. I miss the 4 grandkids almost as much as I miss Melanie. I say almost because I have learned that kids grow up and leave. But, Melanie and I are for always, even from across the world.

Mack Wallace (Sign-man) is the Technical Principal of Mechanical Engineering for Jacobs Engineering, currently on assignment in Seoul, South Korea.

[May-11-2020]

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2 Responses to “One Lonely Seoul”

  1. Mary Ellen Smith says:

    To a dear friend and sometimes neighbor, what a great read. It describes the two of you so well. We miss you. Stay safe and come home soon.

  2. Linda C Elissalde says:

    Dearest Friend Mack,

    Your beautiful tribute to Melanie and your family made me cry. What a tender reminder to those you love, and the one you love best. We miss you all the time. Your humor, your wise cracks, and just you being you.

    We pray for our Sign Man to stay safe. We cannot wait for you to come home.

    Love,
    The Elissaldes

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