This’ll be the second year in a row that I’ve called my dad on his birthday on my birthday. Oh, the wonders of time zones. As long as I can manage to stay up until midnight when it’s actually my birthday. Although I suppose maybe my birthday shouldn’t change with my distance from the international dateline. But fuck it, everyone’s coming to the island for our spring conference so I’ll have all kinds of friends on Friday.
My homestay mother made birthday soup–miyakguk. A fortifying seaweed and fish broth fed to fatigued postpartum mothers that we eat on our birthdays, as a nod of acknowledgment, I assume, to those women for suffering us into the world. When Tae Yeon got home from hagwon, we ate a cake decorated to look like a pig face. He wasn’t bad, but the best part about him was his chocolate ears. We tend to think that Americans don’t have any “weird” customs like always serving the oldest person first, but the birthday girl gets the flower, you know, so I was initially affronted when I didn’t get the icing snout. But it’s ok. The icing wasn’t that great.
Then Tae Yeon and I walked to her mom’s car to get the crate of milk she brought home from work. Jeju calcium fortified milk with a cartoon dolharubang on the carton whose legs are unusually long and who holds a basketball in one of his fortified stone arms. I said it wasn’t heavy and that I would just carry it. She said, “But together!” so we carried it together. I’m tempted to say it’s the American in me that thinks if I can do something alone then I should and that it’s the Korean in her that thinks why do it alone when you can do it together? Or maybe it was just the two of us in that particular situation.