Am starting to remember what I hated about this town. Cannot go two feet without being Hi Sara!ed. It’s not that I don’t like my kids, but it’s fake and it makes me want to drink. But the new GS Mart teems with students after school. Cannot buy beer. Must seek out grocery store, must be swift. No one is home: excellent.
Although there are soju glasses in the cabinet, beer in the fridge, and a huge bottle of soju in the car, I have yet to see the family drink in the house. There is also a drawing of Jesus merrily laughing next to a crucifix on the wall behind the television.
I get a lot of questions about America from the host family. Like, if you don’t built mounds over your graves, do people walk on them? If you don’t do ancestor rites, what do you do? Only take flowers?
At the end of dinner –seasoned bivalves and a soybean broth with potatoes, tofu, and halves of crabs– my host father wrestles me two bananas off the bunch and asks, “Do they grow bananas in America?” I thought he meant ‘are they fresh in America?’ Well yes, as fresh as here; it takes the dictionary to straighten this out. No, no they don’t. Yes, in the Phillipines. I pick at my eyelashes. Not sure if I should leave yet, want to seem accessible to conversation, and then finally, watching his wife do the dishes in front of us, he asks “Can you take a boat to America?”
I excuse myself. Minutes later the son explains that on Wednesday they go to Jeju City to the hospital. I don’t ask why, they have their coats on, I’ll ask when they get back. But this means I can buy more beer.