By: Brittany S
Last weekend was magical. Even though I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say to me, I could look in his eyes and stare at his hands; they told me everything I needed to know. He wanted me right here with him…and she knew.
Who is “he” you ask? My Oppa (오빠 "big brother")! Who else?! I know it has been a long time since I last wrote about him, but he and his family are still very much a part of my life. Now that I live in a different city, I don’t see them nearly as often, but we definitely keep in touch!
One day I messaged my Uhni (언니 "big sister") and she invited me to join them at a resort over the weekend. ROADTRIP! WOOHOO! I was a bit nervous (as I always am when I go out of town with them, but last time it worked out alright), but I agreed. They drove two hours to pick me up, then another two to our destination, with a random pit stop in between.
On the way, 오빠 made a pit stop at a SHEEP FARM. Yep. I guess this isn’t very fascinating to me because I have driven and walked past fields with sheep many times in America, but for them, it was special. But when my family found out there was a fee to get closer to the sheep (less than $5USD), they decided it was too expensive, so we left…but not before they fed me.
Even though I ate before getting in the car, I was immediately handed Mandarin oranges and a hot sweet potato. At the sheep farm, they bought me a corn dog. There was even a point where I was forced to bite off one of theirs, after they gnawed at mine. Sharing is caring! But they weren’t done! They know I love meat more than vegetables, so they make it a point to cook a lot of meat anytime I am around. This time was one for the record books. They bought a TON of steak, links, and hot dogs (and were very apologetic that it wasn’t American beef, but Australian. *shrugs*). They made so much meat I thought I was going to be sick! I ate until I couldn’t anymore, then a little more just for them. We laughed and talked in broken English and Korean until we moved on to games.
I usually just play “Blue Marble” with all the kids (like a Korean ‘Monopoly’), but this time the adults decided to play a game as well. They taught me (with gestures, 2 or 3 English words, and Korean) how to play Yutnori. We played with our family (오빠, his son, and me) against the other family (they traveled with us last time). We won the first game and lost the next two. I blame the player substitutions! While I was playing with the kids, 오빠 said he wanted to go on a “Gondola ride date” with me and asked if that was ok. I looked at his wife for clarification (as there aren't any Gondolas at the ski resort right?) and she said yes and go. I STILL have no idea where this gondola came from, but I suppose this is our next adventure?*
After games, dinner, and drinks, we headed outside to check out the resort premises. Even though we hadn’t had the first snow, ski season had begun so there was artificial snow everywhere, with the ski slope directly outside our windows. One of the men in the group is a professional photographer. I don’t know if it was the soju or his wife, but he suddenly was inspired to have an impromptu photo shoot on the snow using only his camera phone. As we giggled and ran away from him (he drunkenly chased us, too!), he snapped pics. He finally convinced us to start posing and he told me he loves my silly poses. That’s all I needed to hear; I went into full Naomi mode, making the rest of the Koreans to blush. We had a good time! It was fun to watch the rest of the men and boys have a snowball fight.
|She laughed so hard she started crying haha|
|What? He told me to pose in the snow! She wasn't ready...|
By now I am worn out, but they are still going strong. The children were instructed to perform to “Gangnam Style” for the adults. They were even assigned parts and given an iPad to go watch the video for practice. That was fun. It was funny to see the kids being forced to dance in a totally different culture than my own; moments like that make me feel at home here. I stayed awake long enough to watch the performances, then was dismissed to go to bed. My family could see the fatigue all over my face so my 언니 came to the ladies’ room (we stayed in a 2 bed/2 bath condominium villa) and tucked me in my floor mat. She laid her mat out next to mine and for a minute I thought she was about to try to share a mat with me. Instead, she gently caressed my face and said she loves me as if she was putting her little girl to bed. Sometimes you would never guess that she is only 13 years older than me!
|The beautiful wife who inspired this photo shoot. (LEFT)|
Later, 언니 returned to go to bed. When she thought I was sleep, she held my hand and fell asleep. Even though I don’t understand everything she says, I always understand everything she does. She really loves me. We slept hand-in-hand for hours (when I finally fell asleep that is! I was laying on my back and she on her stomach. After so long, I was uncomfortable! I wanted to roll over!). Around 5:30am, I woke up to use the bathroom. Little did I know that one of the other ladies was awake and would start talking to me when I returned. That eventually woke the other ladies, who woke the children, who woke the men. The whole house was awake and LIVELY before 6am! Next time I will just hold it :-). I just KNEW I was going to be able to lie back down and continue sleeping! WRONG!
I had to leave the resort earlier than everyone else because I had an appointment in Seoul. Before I left, 오빠 insisted on making me breakfast. He even Westernized it a little for me by making fried eggs and Salisbury steaks to go with the meal. Because I am not much of a drinker, everyone made it a point to keep my glasses filled with OJ and water. The men drove me to the bus terminal and one of the women even rode the bus with me to Seoul to make sure I would be ok. They are sooooo considerate and hospitable. 오빠and 언니 announced to everyone that they want to be able to communicate with me more fluidly, but they are old so they will not study English. Instead, I have been instructed to continue my study of the Korean language. I am trying…people like that are all the more motivation for me to learn. (OPPA AND UHNI, I LOVE YOU!...오빠랑 언니, 사랑해요! )
*My 오빠 believes we are closer than his wife and I are, so he insists on his 1-on-1 time to further his lead if you will.*