Off to Canada (They Go)

Steven and I lived with my sister-in-law and her children for about a year and a half. The circumstances of how we came to live together isn’t fodder for a public forum and pertains to her family; however, we lived together, and it was both good and bad. What I take from the experience is a closeness to family that I haven’t been able to feel in a long time considering that my blood relatives are half a world away. I feel so grateful to have been a part of their family and their life, and we learned so much from each other.

So…on Friday, my sister-in-law, her son and her daughter will leave Korea and make the trek to Canada. They plan to settle in Newfoundland. We knew this was coming, but time sort of crept up on us and now we are on the almost eve of their departure. We are making last minute plans to meet together and transferring her car into my name. The kids and she came over today to try to set up car insurance, but that is so difficult here, even for her. I watched the kids play with Ace our dog. The little thing loves them so much, and he whined for twenty minutes after they left.

I will miss Heechan and Yesan. I am not sure if I can ever have children of my own (that may take a possible miracle), but to be a part of their lives has been a privilege. I watched their mom move down here with us; get a job; and provide for them all the while depending on us (mostly Steven) to help with school and taking them places, but she mostly did it on her own without much help from us, and I think to myself that it is so hard for a single mom. How do they do it? God only knows. Hats off to moms both single and married. You’re rock stars in my book. I look at you from afar with a tinge of envy.

What I got out of all of this was a bigger family. (To be accepted by Steven’s family as I have has been really nice and less stressful than many of the stories I hear of in-laws from hell.) Steven’s sister and the kids will be half a world away also, but they are there, present. I learned so much about how to cook Korean food and about Korean culture from living all together with them. Of course I have lived here for six years, but it’s so different once you become integrated and married into a family here, and it isn’t terribly easy to merge two different cultures together in a marriage. She and I figured out our own way to communicate, and in a way, she was my ally and has greatly helped me understand my husband. (They have been almost inseparable since childhood.)

It has hit me in waves…the finality of things. Tonight, I cried because I won’t be able to see them off at the airport on Friday, but I hope that they can only know how much they do mean to me. Through the peaks and the valleys, we had a merging of West meets East, and it was a wonderful thing. I taught her how to make cobbler. She taught me how to make seaweed soup among so many other things. When I was feeling sick, she treated me with an ancient remedy to alleviate nausea.

In some coming blog posts, I hope to share some of our past experiences. I met the kids when they were around three or four, and now one will be in second grade, and the other will be in third grade when they get to Canada. I can only wish them the best. They are frantically packing, and tomorrow night I, Steven’s brother, Steven’s father, my other sister-in-law and baby niece will have a party to wish them the best for this next chapter of their lives.

Mountains

I live in Daejeon, South Korea. It’s a city surrounded by mountains. The entire peninsula is mountainous terrain. So, it’s a bit difficult to escape not only the mountains but also the sea which is accessible by driving west, east or south. I have been thinking a lot about mountains lately. What do they have to offer us? Well, that’s a rather loaded question; however, the answer is simple, and you already know it. They give us our life’s breath. (I can think of a million more clichés to give as an answer.) Mountains here are dense. The sides of mountains that lay bare in this area have rocks that look as if you cold just scrape off a piece and take it with you.Whereas, in other parts, they are so dense with trees, I imagine that someone has taken a cake and just piped on little tufts of icing, just bouncing around and putting them here and there until it is completely filled with green.

A typical word to describe feeling and color in Korean is “verdant green” 초록색 (chorok saek). “Verdant” typically signifies lush vegetation and a vibrant green that gives the feeling of life in abundance.It’s not the same lush green that I found in Louisiana and that I so deeply connected myself to for the first thirty years of my life, but, nonetheless, it’s a hue of green that I now find myself drawn toward in the last thirty years of my life and yet, I still have 24 more of those next or last years to go. And so it goes, green must be the color of my life.

Now, most people associate the color green with that of envy, yet it reminds me of the constancy of nature, the ever-turning circle of life as so demonstrated in the plant kingdom. And, of course, plants get their green hue from little chloroplasts that produce chlorophyll. I think to myself, “Plants have it all. They can make their own food and can sustain given the proper amount of sunlight and rain. They do not need the help of another to live.”

So, what is all this talk of plants, and why do I ramble? Plants live on the mountain, a large fortuitous being that allows them to share space with it. They cohabit together forming their own little ecosystem and their own little world, and then I bring myself to the idea of marriage. I am a wife, something that even after three years I feel hesitant to call myself. I cohabit with another person, but we are by no means symbiotic. Nor are the plants and the mountain. We can easily transport the plants to another place, and they could easily thrive–given that it isn’t desert or tundra. (Or maybe I am wrong and full of crap here.)

I am a married woman. I have a husband, but what is this little thing we call marriage? I feel the need to write again, and from time to time, I hope to post here as a means of catharsis. Some tend to think that marriage is like climbing a mountain. Once we get to the top, we realize what we have gone through to get to that peak, and yet, we inevitably have to go back down and into the valley only to try to climb high again. I often feel that love coincides with that amount of effort that we put into climbing a mountain. We cannot stop and sit down for long. We just have to keep going.