2.2 Winter 2020-2021

January 14, Meet and Greet

The Russian hit on me in the first five minutes of meeting me.

Sir, please read the room and my travel-weary face.

A moment before he looked me up and down and said “you’re looking good”, I was deboning a chicken and chatting with him about his job when he suddenly stroked my forearm and I was so taken aback I just said “why”.

“Oh. I don’t know why. I guess because you have arm hair and I don’t.”

The last person who did that was a nine-year-old Korean. I had higher hopes for a twenty-seven-year-old man.

I would also expect a psychologist to have a little more situational awareness but he’s shaping up (down?) to be a little… awkward.

Odd men aside, the day getting to Busan from Seoul was long, and made longer by lugging around an overweight suitcase.

Maybe, just maybe one day I can travel light.

The Busan train station signs for the taxi deposited me at a walled off street corner under a bridge. I peeked and then stared at one taxi man but couldn’t get his attention even standing in front of his parked car.

There was one man at the end of the taxi line smoking a cigarette so I pointed at him with raised shoulders and he shook his head and pointed behind me.

I was standing in the middle of the line of taxis and had to proceed to the one in front.

For several agonizing minutes, the frontline taxi man struggled to fit my suitcase in his trunk. The Seoul taxi had no trouble with this just hours earlier so I resigned myself to allowing him and soon another cabbie to both struggle shoving it in.

To no avail: my broken blue suitcase ended up in shotgun. I apologized to the driver less because I felt guilty and more because I wanted to appease him so he wouldn’t drive zig zag out of spite.

When we finally pulled partway into my alley, he actually pulled my suitcase out then rolled it around the corner to the house, exclaiming Busan slang all the while that he would have pulled in farther had he known. He also was worried that no one was home to let me in, not knowing that I already live here.

“Freshman! House Owner! I’m back!”

I heard him chuckling on his way back to the taxi.

He was a very nice man.

House Owner was the first to greet me, followed by the corgi who actually wagged her tail in joy.

Freshman came home a few minutes later with hair as short as mine.

“Oh my gosh, you’re here!” We hugged and jumped around. House Owner’s mom took her, her sister, Freshman, and me to Costco.

How funny that when I’m home in America I visit Costco with my mom, and when I’m home in Busan I also visit Costco with (a) mom.

It turned out to be the mother’s birthday so we cooked on a portable grill in House Owner’s bedroom and I brought my plate of Costco sushi as an offering.

I sat on the floor feeling comfortable even in a conversation I didn’t fully understand and marveled how far I’ve come in this Korean life— from awkward school lunches to eating amidst another person’s family without a second thought.

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