warning: huge fucking ramble / sad (at least it made me sad)
i debated for a long time on whether or not i should include this photo, and then i thought a really long time about why it was such a big deal to me. i'm still on the fence on sharing but i thought starting my photography page with this photo would set this page up the way i wanted it to.
my grandma's bedroom. there are a lot of photos i took of my grandparents' home the 2-3 times i got to visit during my trip. i took all of them in a frenzy while i was there because i don't know... it felt like such a fleeting moment. it's kind of a fucked up feeling to be in a moment special to you knowing you may not ever be able to return. eternal goodbyes? i guess is the right idea. like there are a trillion things you feel like you need to do because you'll never have the opportunity to do them again, but all you can really do is stand there and try to take it in as best as possible. but i feel like there isn't really a 'best as possible'. i have had a couple eternal goodbyes and they never feel like enough, just always some multiple shades of fucked up and regret.
so yeah. i tried to take as many photos as i could so i could kind of keep this place around with me forever, so it would no longer only exist inside my childhood memories, and it wouldn't only be eternal regret when the house disappeared, which it felt like was going to happen soon. the now peeling wallpapers, the vinyl sticker flooring of the uneven floor, my grandma's makeup and toiletries. the bath sprinkles i remember using as a kid. it was a strange kind of reminder of the pain behind mortality to see this house that i felt was so exciting and mysterious, huge and strong to be crumbling and melting apart. will i remember all these details when it's all gone? what will happen to this place when the lawsuit is dealt with, if the antagonists (in my story) win? i took photos because i didn't know the answer to these questions.
i (once again,) was at a crossroad on whether or not i should upload all of the photos i took of this home. what's the best way to archive them?? i can't seem to be satisfied with leaving them on my SanDisk 128GB SD card, collecting digital dust, but i have too much fear to share them. i'd like to share them with others but i also can't ignore the anxiety i feel that people could thoughtlessly use the photos, or not look at them with the integrity i want them to be viewed with. which is silly; i can't or shouldn't want to control any of that. but that's how much these photos mean to me. even looking through them was hard for me. i took these photos in that present moment knowing they'd become memories i couldn't let go in the future, but as i sit here flipping through them, it's painful to feel like they're faraway memories already.
it's hard to explain why these photos mean so much to me. it's not just the house... although that's a big part of it. it's the feeling of the house crumbling away while my grandparents do too. how i wasn't able to live through that and be there with them as they grew older. instead what i do get to see is them at their weakest, along with this now decaying house and all its cobwebs, unmaintained not from a lack of care but from a lack of physical ability. not that i don't appreciate what i do get to have. it just kind of breaks me inside. like, all this stuff only happens once, right? being able to spend time with your grandparents while you grow up from a child to an adult. and i missed out on it. (not without something in return, of course. i always wonder if it's worth it but that's a silly question to ask for many reasons.) i have a lot of thoughts on the asian american immigration experience, but most of the hurt related to it comes from the sorrow everyone involved has to deal with. the quiet, slow apologies of my grandpa telling us he wishes he had done more for my mom. the way he only had the physical strength to barely mumble two things and that was one of the two... the way they weren't able to see their only daughter live through her adult years... the way my mom actively avoids visiting because it would be too much for her to handle emotionally, seeing all the years she was separated from her parents culminated at once in their suddenly thin, fragile hands and clouded eyes. the way that in itself is watching another regret unfold, almost preventable, right before my eyes. is this time traveling, mom? seeing my grandparents your age one day, and then seeing them unable to stand the next? seeing regret pooling from the past, present, and future, knowing i could prevent it somehow, but standing motionless while watching it happen in front of me? why do people write about their 'smelly gradeschool lunchboxes' as rocks to carry with them as part of the 'assam experience' when these moments exist? i may just live under a rock. i don't talk to many people anyway.
my grandparents have a detached cement garage and its rooftop is used to keep all my gmas onggi in one place. onggi (옹기) is earthenware used to store food and typically ferment it.
there's so much i find entertaining about this photo beyond being able to have caught that dog in that moment. (i had no idea the fella would follow me back to bark at me here.) look at the paneling on the left building, which is such a western design, in the middle of the korean countryside. i love the rusty aluminum of the opposite building. all the materials stuffed in between the two, unused for so long greenery has started to grow over it. the random assortment of items on the bench in the back. i loved being able to look at the countryside homes, seeing how they lived. more things i'm scared no one will remember. who will remember the random stuff they left outside? things they might have meant to use? like, is that jam in a big jar?? is that even edible?? i don't know!!!
busan's gamcheon culture village
i was showing my mom this photo and my sister asked, "isn't it pretty?" and my mom replied, "all i see is the slums... people that aren't that well off live here".
i have no idea what intention she said that with but i think there is a lot to appreciate about this area and thus, this photo. i like zooming in and staring at each building, wondering about who might live there and how they might spend their days.
this place was funny. i wondered how/why a town like this could start and grow. apparently there are a lot of strict rules here, like taxis can't drive through the main road because it creates too much noise for the residents. i'm not really sure how i would feel if i lived here, especially if apparently the people that visit here come knowing it's an area that isn't that well off? you don't even pay an admission fee or anything. not knocking on anything i guess... just trying to understand it. the taxi driver (who told me to stop sleeping on the way there) talked about the tourists with disdain, telling us how disrespectful they were to the village's existence. i guess i should be more intentional with the places i visit lmao... i just went where i was recommended because i didn't have an itinerary or time to make one.
i thought this place was kind of like a fever dream, all the colorful homes shoved into nooks and crannies, everything kind of falling apart. that's what i find kind of interesting about korean architecture i think, things are either really new/upkept or it's completely falling apart. (imo it's a total tell on korea's history). if you escape the main road and head down taking the steep, steep cement stairs, there's an area that's like half dedicated to being a tourist attraction full of these strange mannequins scattered throughout the town (pics below). but there was no one else there... at some point it was just me and my sister and the old seniors that lived there, sitting and staring at us, sensing that we were foreign to this area without being able to pinpoint why. some of the existing signs explained that a lot of these small, abandoned mannequins and buildings (some were in the shape of mushrooms, etc) were town projects started by residents to try and contribute to the tourist attraction but there was 0 explanation as to why everything seemed empty and dead. it all looked like the town residents had disappeared overnight, with tools and supplies still sitting inside the buildings yet looking untouched for years. very twilight zone.
i kept wondering what it would be like to live here. minus the tourists i guess.
not a good photo by any means but there was no way to get to the stairs on this building. the distance between the ledge and the ground floor was like 5ft with no way to get there on this side of the building. this side was literally unusable unless you had a ladder or are like 12 feet tall. i wanted an explanation so badly but i. mean yeah, where is there to get one lol, especially this area being as dead as it was.