Yumi informed me on Thursday afternoon that Omma will be paying me a visit the following evening. With my agenda already clear, I was happy to hear the news. I was assuming that also meant Appa was coming. I meticulously cleaned my apartment and bought some food because they tend to laugh that my refrigerator is empty and my apartment is messy. They then proceed to purchase groceries and clean and organize my room. I appreciate their efforts, but I am OK with the way I live my life and sort of dislike when people go through my things. It makes finding them difficult.
I waited patiently for their arrival, reading A Short History of Nearly Everything to pass the time. Omma sent me a few messages that I had to decode from Korean: something about coming soon and something about a norae bang (karaoke room). Strange. I fell asleep.
Four hours later, at midnight, I heard banging on the door and then my phone began to ring. Delirious and confused, I answered the phone and then opened the door for Omma to run into my arms for the biggest hug since we first met. “윤희야! 술 먹었어!” Yoon hee, I drank alcohol!
In a fit of giggles, she slapped my butt, hugged me some more, and ran her fingers through my hair. 퍼마! She complimented my new do – yes, I permed my hair.
She told me that she met 10 of her friends in Gwangju. They ate and drank until she was full. I never see her drink, so this came as a surprise. She had a blast at the noraebang and proceeded to demonstrate her dance moves. It was beyond cute. I gave her some pajamas, amped the floor heating and heated mattress pad, and we fell asleep.
My room felt much warmer than usual and sleeping next to another person radiating even more heat made me a bit uncomfortable. However, Omma complained that it was too cold and she insisted on changing the layout of my bedroom so my bed is away from the window. No matter how much I protest, whether it’s that I don’t want to eat or I don’t want her to buy me that expensive jacket, nothing changes her mind and I cannot argue with her. Now I know where I get my determination.
I cooked some eggs, rice, and a vegetable dish while Omma cut the kimchi she made and brought for me – three kinds! We ate that for breakfast along with some strong coffee for me. I felt glad to be able to provide her with food that she actually enjoyed. She refused to eat my spicy potatoes once.
Omma insisted that she must seal my window because it was too cold, so we rendezvoused around my neighborhood for materials. She also kindly picked up some vegetables to store in my fridge.
Having to cancel my plans to hike the mountain, Omma and I went to my aunt and uncle’s apartment near the bus terminal. My other aunt waited for us and she approached me and asked me a question in Korea to which I responded in Korean. It felt happy to be able to speak with her in the little Korean that I have learned. I really like her; she’s a sweet person. The women set a grill in the middle of the living room and we had a feast. They grilled samgyupsal which we wrapped in lettuce along with rice, spicy red pepper paste, hot peppers, kimchi, onions dipped in soy sauce, and whatever other side dish you desire. I call them Korean burritos. My aunt kept making these burritos and continuously shoved them in my mouth. Even though I feel like I ate a lot, I didn’t feel overly stuffed. The food is relatively healthy.
This was my first visit from Omma without Appa, and it was a different experience. It felt a little more relaxed and careful. She’s incredibly warm and friendly. She talks to people in elevators and on the streets. I have yet to witness that among strangers in Korea. I’m proud to be her baby.