First Meal Out in Korea

19 Feb

Since it was the first day, I got lost in the subway, by the time I noticed I was going the wrong way I was half way around the circular track of the two. So I figured I should wait it out.

I really liked trying to blend in, but I accidentally dressed wrong first few times, so I observed and tried to copy people on the train. I could feel my lazy posture, and I learned that the two track is the ideal way to see all different aspects of Seoul. It’s only two dollars American. (2,000 won). Might have gone up to three. And you can see all of Seoul, including the river. This was my chance to blend in. I learned a lot by watching the people on the train.

My Dad called me on my cellphone since I’d exchanged cellphone numbers. My mom was distraught and pissed at me. She was already uptight about going to Korea, which she wouldn’t let me do going alone. But now that we were here, I already could sense the tension in her voice and the paranoia. She must have been thinking deep inside that Korea had already stolen one of her children (my brother who moved to Korea, I think in part, to get away from her and her constant nagging, needling, and control issues) now Korea was going to steal another.

I met up with my parents for lunch outside of their hotel. My mom was acting all tight like a spring and told me, “We went to Starbucks for breakfast.” This, to me, was like saying, “I went to France and ate at McDonalds.”

I hung my head in utter shame and pointing out that she could be more adventurous, I started to feel wound up too. My dad stared off like he’d been putting up with this for a few hours. Because she started saying racist and prejudiced lines like, “I didn’t want a big meal.” I pointed out how prejudiced this was and how hateful, gently, but she kept going, which raised the question of why she adopted me if she couldn’t handle another culture. But then I reminded myself that she saw Korea as a threat like George W. Bush saw Iraq a threat. Like it had Weapons of Mass Destruction. (And we know the result of that…) While she was going in paranoia and control mode, I was trying to figure a way out or at least to compromise with her.

We met with my brother at their hotel too. He was the same. He said yo. I noticed a picture of him and a girl in his wallet. I said nothing. He texted someone on a cellphone, and he did the old, “I’m better than you.” routine. I picked on his Korean pronunciation, because our relationship is like that. I said his pronunciation was flat. When we started to converse in Korean, my mom got uptight and interrupted us because she was pissed and paranoid. (If you’ve read the previous entries you can see she has a paranoia of learning languages and this was a paranoia of not knowing the language in a country that didn’t look like her.)

I had a fleeting thought that her paranoia must feel like the way I felt in the US all those years. I must have better coping mechanisms though.

We went out to lunch at a Seogeopsal. My mom kept talking really uptight and my Dad kept nodding like he was tired of this already. My brother and I walked far ahead of them and we talked in our own code back and forth. One where you know that person so well, that updating them won’t help. I introduced the idea that he should see Appa before we went into the restaurant. He ordered.

On trips I tend to be super adventurous. I will try everything that’s legal outside of my own cultural norms.

When we were in the restaurant, I asked my brother again, if he’d like to visit Appa. My mom, being childish, even though I’d explicitly asked her and she’d agreed, interrupted and said, “But we only have a few days with him.”

I replied, “You agreed previously. I’m asking him.”

My brother declined to see Appa with me. Perhaps later this was for the best, but at the time I was really upset with my Mom for rescinding a promise and letting my brother decide.

Thus the tension continued to build.

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