Wednesday, November 23, 2011

People in My Neighborhood

My favorite boots - resoled, thus revived

These perfectly worn and distressed black boots were worn throughout this past fall, winter, and early spring.  I put them away when once, walking in the rain with Lisa to check out the shops in our neighborhood, I had to stop and stuff a plastic bag in the bottom of my shoe in order to protect my foot from the water that was seeping through the sole of my left boot.  These boots were sitting in my closet for a number of months until I finally decided to do some research to find a reasonably priced shoe repair shop in the neighborhood. 

I went on Yelp (of course) and searched for information about the shoe repair shop that I often pass on my way to the gym, right on Meserole.  I found out that the couple who run the shop are Korean and that they are also reasonably priced.  I went in last week and spoke to the ajumma in Korean.  I found it surprising how easily we were able to converse and felt that weird familiarity I get whenever I interact with older Korean people.  This past Monday I stopped by to pick up my boots.  I also got a chance to ask them where to find hodduk, per Jon's request.  The ajumma found it hilarious that my Caucasian boyfriend loved hodduk so much.  She said that had she known how much he loved it and had more time she would have made for us because she makes an excellent hodduk.  She also said that the more Korean food my boyfriend eats the more attractive he gets, right?  I laughed and agreed but didn't bother to tell her that Jon is the one in this relationship who knows how to make dukbokki and dakgalbi whereas I only know how to order Korean food. 

I know.  It's shameful.

So why am I bringing this up?  Well in the last month I feel as though I've had more interactions with Korean people than I have the entire year that I've lived here.  And it's happened out of nowhere.  For example, there is a fruit and vegetable store in my neighborhood with a really cute orange cat.  Sometimes if I'm passing by I'll stop in just to pet the cat (I know, ridiculous).  The last time I was in there I was looking at their selection of squash (while petting the cat) when I heard the women behind the counter speaking in Korean to each other.  I grabbed a squash and went up to make my purchase.  I asked them in Korean, "Are you Korean?"  They both smiled widely and said "Yes, we're Korean!" and we got to talking, mostly about how there are so few Korean people who live in the neighborhood.  Then last week I got a call in my office from one of the clinics asking me to come down and help a Korean woman fill out her paperwork.  I told them "Uh, I'm far from fluent.  You know that, right?"  Their response was to say that a little bit of Korean was better than no Korean.  I couldn't really argue with that.

I really miss being around Korean people.  I miss speaking Korean on a consistent basis and am wondering how I can involve myself with the Korean-American community here without joining a church.  I'm looking around for volunteer opportunities.  I've also promised myself to stop into the shoe repair shop and the fruit and vegetable shop at least once a week to say hello.  In Korean, of course. 

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