Omma and her bf come. They bring a fan and a blanket to sit on and food and household items. Then we are off to Uncles house, we eat intestines and liver. Then we go to another restaurant and eat chinese food. Koreans can do this all night. They eat with all their drinking. So much eating and drinking. Omma is a story teller. She is funny, and does most of the talking. Her boyfriend is quiet. He leaves the table to go sit and smoke and watch soccer.
Then we go back to Uncle’s house. She gets out her hand phone and shows everyone pictures of Dong Jin, and me and the flowers I gave her for Parent’s day. Which oddly affirms to me that she cares and is touched by the things I give her.
I send her the picture of me and dan and she when Dan had come to visit in May.
We take a photo on her camera of the two of us. She sends me one.
We are all sitting on the floor. She looks at my feet. She says in Korean that I have my father’s feet. But my uncle translates it for me, tells me, appa feet you have. I could cry but I don’t. Then I think of course I do, no wonder I can’t fit my feet into anything in Korea. Thanks dad for giving me wide feet.
But it’s an amazing curious overwhelming feeling. I love hearing things like this. This is where you get ___ this from… I know it seems so trivial. So unworth knowing, but it means so much to me. I only have a faded photo of my father. So to know that our feet are the same, somehow makes our connection real, closer, tangible. He exists, he gave me his feet. I’ve always liked my feet.
Anyway, then uncle gets pen and paper and tells me the options. I can stay in his yoo sung’s room and sleep or go to an all night sauna with Omma. I go to sauna even though I know it means getting naked. Which I’m not comfortable with, but she is my mother and I came out of her body. I don’t know how to say, I don’t care. Remember, I can not make a decision. I just shrug my shoulders. But then say Sauna, even though I would be more comfortable sleeping in my cousin’s room. But something tells me to say yes. Sometimes I surprise myself by doing things that I’m afraid to do. But that isn’t how we grow by doing what we already know how to do. I say sauna because I feel it is what I should say. It’s what I should do, because being a wimp is no fun.
The sauna. I had been to one before, with Erica. But this experience was one of it’s own. We walk to the spa – uncle and aunt walk us there. Omma’s bf comes too but he goes to the boy’s sauna. I think omma is a little drunk because she can’t figure out where the lockers for the shoes go. Maybe she was nervous too.
But we get to our lockers and we take off our clothes. She shows me where to go. There is a woman getting scrubbed. I eventually get a scrub and a massage as well. I am so naked and the woman slaps me (as part of the massage) and I feel exposed, but everyone here is naked and there is no shame.
But first we go into the sauna – the heated room and get hot. For the first time I notice how huge the scar is on her arm. I think I have seen glimpses of it before when she wears three quarter length sleeves, but only naked do I see the extent of it. Then she shows me her leg on the same side as well, and there is a matching scar on her knee. She tries to tell me but she can’t. They came from the same incident though, I think. Then she shows me her fingers on her left hand. Her ring and middle fingers are stubs. They have no nails. I gasped. How had I gone this long without seeing them? It felt like a moment where my Omma was a totally different woman to me. I learned something about her. It’s like when you learn something about someone and what you’re really thinking is, wow I don’t know anything about you.
Then we go into another room there is a deep pool of water for your legs and jets. And then I get the massage. I feel so naked and exposed. But there is no shame here.
We finish showering. And we go to the sleeping room. There is a snack room and a big TV and a restaurant. There are families. Babies, young children. Sauna’s are all night long, and I’m wondering why young children aren’t sleeping. There are tunnels for sleeping. But the floor everywhere is tile. Is HARD. Towels for blankets and mats, and a little pillow. There is one area with heated light in the floor and round half circles. I imagine it’s good for circulation. I am sleeping a few feet away from the loudest snoring person in Korea. And around 3 am a 6 year old girl discovered her screaming voice. Finally around 4 I am so tired that I ignore the pain of hard floor on hip bones and fall asleep. I wake up with the sun. Omma is staring at me. The next time I wake up, she is gone. I don’t know where she is, but I’m too tired to search. Eventually I see her bf and he goes into one of these heated huts.
Finally around 8 am it’s time to drink coffee and eat. I eat ramen. Omma never eats breakfast. We mosey around the sauna again, shower again, and head back to uncles house. We drink coffee, and then we are off to somewhere I don’t know. None of the cities are the cities we passed from Uiwang to Bugae. I see signs for Incheon. I know we are going away from my house. Solae, Solae, Solae. We are going to Solae. I could ask, but I’m too tired and don’t want them to laugh at me for speaking Korean.
I am not surprised when I see that Solae is a fish market. But I haven’t ever been to a fish market like this. People are waiting for the fish that fisherman are just catching. We look off the ledge and see a fishing boat below.
There are many people.
Then we get to the market. So much fish. So much life. What do we want to eat? I don’t even know the names of these things in English, let alone Korean. It’s quite morbid. It’s a zoo but it’s a meal zoo. They are alive, only to be killed and eaten.
It’s all really beautiful, the display. My feet are soaking wet, but there is no avoiding all the water, the wetness.
I want to know the names for all the fish.
We choose a flounder and they give us another black fish with wings for a deal. I watch the fish bleed to death. I am not mortified enough not to eat them. But there is something very morbid about this market.
After the raw fish, we eat steamed crabs. That was probably the most fun to eat. Because it is messy and delicious. Then we eat stew. They drink soju, and I drink cola.
Before we leave, omma buys some dried fish. I see a woman whose standing on raised table displays of the fish. Her back is permanently angled. And I wonder how many years she has been bending over like this. Her body evolved to fit her environment.
Then we leave the fish market. I am always grateful for these experiences. I never would have ventured to a fish market in Incheon. I wouldn’t know how to eat there. I am blessed to have these adventures.