The worst holidays to be abroad for are the ones whose celebrations are essentially about eating.
Last fourth of July was the day before I left for Korea. I went to a party on Mount Washington with sort of an eclectic mixture of friends, acquaintences, and total strangers, grilled on the balcony, and watched the fireworks. It was a perfect way, I thought, to say goodbye for a year. Today actually marks the one year since I left home point.
Yesterday, I almost forgot that it was the fourth. Was reminded by someone’s G-chat message referring to another person’s G-chat message that had reminded her. (When I told her this the next day, Mrs. Jang said “You are Korean already. How could you forget?”)
So I said to Mr. Jang as we drove to the folk museum, “You know, on Independence Day, we usually have barbecue. It is a kind of American custom.” But, the principal was set on the kind of raw fish you eat with the bones in it.
I insisted, at least, on not drinking too much after the night we’d had before. Shortly after the food arrived, Mr. Jang asked for my phone, I assumed to look up a word in the dictionary. He called someone.
Sarah and I looked at each other in confusion. He said to this other person something I gathered to be “Oh, nothing much, but Sara’s only drinking one glass of soju tonight so she’s ignoring my cup.” He absolutely had us going. It wasn’t until he said “joke” that we realized he hadn’t called anyone at all, only that his glass was empty.
But we got him back when he was using the dictionary and neglecting Sarah’s cup. She called my phone from her phone under the table –“It’s for you!”
He laughed and said “You learn quickly.”