Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sweetest home

Whenever I go home my mother no longer asks me what I want to eat -- she knows without asking... duk mandoo guk -- Korean soup with rice cakes and dumplings (very garlicky, yum!). Koreans eat this soup for New Years day (traditionally celebrated on the lunar new year), but I love it year round, and only my mother's version, of course.

Chicago has been a site for sore eyes (mine) and I realize how lucky I was to have this as my foundation in life. Though I used to feel a bit 'trapped in the suburbs' (especially growing up), I am so appreciative of the pristine roads (no life-threatening craters and potholes!), the hygenic environment (no piles of trash or various animal excrement to avoid), and the ease of daily living (not to be taken for granted in the places I've recently visited).

While here, I stayed over at my eldest sister's one morning and saw the family off to work and school and appointments. Though it is quotidian for them, I enjoyed being part of the morning rush. Now, when I miss them I will carry that time with me and see them in my mind's eye.

My sarster* Sharon who certainly knows me better than I know myself has been a constant presence in my travels (via several dozen emails, sometimes a dozen in one day), but certainly nothing replaces the face-to-face.

(*This deserves an explanation. Once when we were very young, Sharon was reading the book Little Women. In it, they call their mother Marmy. So, since then, we have been calling each other sarster and brarthar, or sars (abbreviated) which you might have seen sprinkled throughout my blog. Because there are 3 sarsters, sometimes we use numbers, for example, I am sars-3.)

Despite the fact that my family gave me Christmas and birthday presents in advance before I left on my trip (despite my protests!), my family will celebrate my birthday on Saturday at a nice restaurant. Only missing will be my brother, Richard, and sister-in-law, Dosun, who live in the L.A.-area, though we are planning to coordinate our visits when I return to the U.S. in May.

Being at home also is for seeing long-time friends. For me, they include Rachel (whom I've known since the first day of sixth grade, and of whom I've before spoken on this blog) and Manolo, Timmy (whom I've known since I was 17, who stuck by me as a friend despite my Dorothy Hammill-haircut and eggplant-coat days), and Dan (another long-time friend from volunteer work in the area of harm reduction and HIV-prevention). Add to that a friend from college (college for me, grad school for her) with whom I shared first major life events, and my loving friends in Germany (also from Chicago volunteer work-days). We will be friends when I am old and gray.

In family and friends I am so, so blessed.

Family birthday celebration mayhem:


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