It was just one of those good days. The kind I don't write about nearly enough anymore, because I usually just too busy enjoying them. And the kind that reaffirms the fact that it's time to get back to hitting the Korean books every day, studiously, as before. Because without having done that, days like this wouldn't be possible. Or at least, not quite the same.
Due to all the drama this morning, I didn't get around to sending my usual, "Good morning! English camp is here and starts at this time so I'll be seeing you soon!" text that I normally send about thirty minutes before the first day, to make sure all of the students who are signed up don't forget and have all the information they need to end up in the right place at the right time. As a result, we only had five today. Two sent messages with their friends that they'll be in tomorrow. They're traveling with their families for the holiday, but that still left five missing. So. It was a small group, but small isn't always bad. We made our way through most of the activities I had scheduled, and the three boys who got lumped together who don't know each other have started loosening up and communicating a lot better while working on their activities. So. That was nice. And it's amazing how long three hours of camp felt when I first started teaching them, compared to now. I think mostly because, in the beginning, I was boring even myself. These days, we just whack right along. It's cake.
After camp had finished, I was in my office working on getting the materials in order for tomorrow's camp, and also finishing up my lesson for the 공부방 when 부장님 came up to invite me to lunch at a 선렁탕 restaurant with the other teachers and the principal and vice principal, which I wasn't expecting. It was fucking badass fare, and a restaurant I'll definitely be taking Busan back to.
Anyway. The food was good. Priorities and all. After that, I headed back to school to finish up a few more things, then back to the coffee shop to "study" aka play on my phone for a couple of hours before catching the bus to the study room. The boys were way too relaxed tonight, as it is officially their vacation, but it was nice because one of the more shy ones suddenly got up the gumption to just start jabbering away at me. It was his birthday last week and I had promised to bring him a present, but forgot. He promptly reminded me. I'll get him after the vacation. I super promised this time.
After we finished our lesson, the head teacher at the study room came in to follow up on a question she had asked me via text earlier in the week, which was what color I liked, because she wanted to make me a scarf as a present. I hadn't realized she was going to make it herself -- gaps in my Korean -- but got really excited, because I've been looking around all over the place trying to find knitting needles for about three weeks now. I knew I could get them in Seoul, but wanted to find a place closer to home. When I explained this, she pushed me out the door and into her car. We drove to Bupyeong Market, where her husband and eldest son work selling fruit. Her son, who I've met a few times before, joined us and as we made our way through the dark alleys together, there were shouts here and there coming out of doorways, greeting us as we passed. She must spend a lot of time there. She led me to a shop full ceiling to floor with yarns of all textures, thicknesses and colors.
She explained to the ajummas inside that I wanted to make a scarf, but that I had never knitted before, and they asked me what my favorite color was. Before I knew it, I was having red yarn of ever imaginable kind loaded into my arms for evaluation. I finally chose one, and then one ajumma shouted over her shoulder to her son, who came running over with a couple of needles. The ajumma pulled out a chair and pushed me down into it. She leaned over me, steadying her hands at eye level, and told me to watch. She quickly counted down thirty stitches, as she loaded the yarn onto the needle. Then she told me to watch again, as she slowly moved her fingers back and forth, demonstrating the simple stitch. One, two, three rows. Slowly, repeating the directions under her breath as she went. Then, she handed it to me. I imitated her motion for a few stitches, as she, the head teacher, the head teacher's son and a few others from the shop all stood over my chair chirping out various forms of praise and encouragement. Talk about pressure.
They made me stay seated there until they had watched me complete two whole rows, and then they were satisfied. Back out on the street, we ran into the head teacher's sister. I said goodbye, and climbed into a cab, where the confused taxi driver peered into his rear view mirror and asked if I was Korean. He then proceeded to chatter on, asking me how to say this or that in English, only about half of which I was able to answer. He really wanted to explain the news story on the radio to me, but was attempting to do so by..... asking me how to say Korean words in English. Haha. It was fucking cute. And the whole fucking ride home, he never caught on to what the problem was with that.
It was a good night. Full of kindness from people who don't owe me a damn thing. And one that would have seemed a lot colder, were I not able to understand what was coming out of the mouths of the people around me. During vacation time, my language situation suddenly takes a dramatic shift. At the study room, no one speaks English. The people in at the office speak little to no English. And otherwise, it's just me. It's a great time to take some serious steps forward. So tomorrow, I'll start studying again. Actually studying. Tonight, it's all about fumbling hands.