Day 79: Memories Afloat

(I didn’t get to write anything yesterday, oops…)

For some reason, random memories from my childhood in Korea kept resurfacing in my mind as I was working today. Memory is a funny thing. It’s not a library where you search for a title and instantly pull out a clear image or a thought; it’s more like a pool of recollections where everything merges together and certain things easily drift up to the surface while others wander about in deeper waters. They require a bit more effort to draw out. But some may sink so far and become lost in oblivion–never to be found again. 

My memories of Korea as a child become more hazy as I get older. I want to record what I do remember because they’re like childhood trinkets to me–little bits and pieces of experiences that are completely useless to anyone else but precious and sentimental to me. I would be sad if these memories sank to oblivion, so I want to write what came afloat today.

I remember my mom buying 꽈배기 (twisted doughnuts) from a man with a cart. The smell of cinnamon and sugar. The warmth from the box heating the doughnuts. The sound of rain. Wetness. My brother and I clutching onto plastic bags over our heads because we didn’t have umbrellas when it started to pour.

I remember trying to copy my brother after he climbed up on a laundry drying rack. Falling down. Blood gushing out of my nose (my first nosebleed, or at least the first one I can remember). My uncle coming in and scolding us.

I remember my mom making 송편 (a type of rice cake) in the kitchen. The stickiness of the lump of rice cake batter she let me play with. Me sitting around all of the neighborhood girls outside our apartment building. The feel of fingers going through my hair as an older girl groomed me. The little rice cake man I made out of my lump while having my hair done.

I remember riding a train for the first time with my mother and brother. The windows. The scenery changing in an instant. The shifting shadows as we moved along the tracks.

I remember walking through a church with a bag of snacks (probably 양파링). Adults greeting me, the pastor’s little daughter, warmly. Teasing. Reaching out jokingly for my snacks. Moving through the pews. More people. A sense of familiarity.

I remember taking a walk with my grandpa and my brother. Bright sunshine. The sweet taste of cold strawberry milk in my mouth. The sound of his slightly raspy voice.

I remember waking up early one morning and seeing my siblings sleep. We shared the same bed. My brother lying down like a bodybuilder flexing his muscles. My little sister posed as a ballerina with her arms up over her head. Me smiling and laughing to myself and taking in the funny imagery.

I remember my grandma helping me brush my teeth. Concentrating on making circular motions, imagining circles as the bristles ran across my enamel.

I started to remember more as I wrote this post. I hope more memories make it to the surface.

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