by now, i’ve been away from home on enough holidays to know how the day will go. i’ll wake up feeling like the day is somehow special, but i’ll have to go through the normal routine, in a country where nothing is any different. i’ll walk to school, work, eat an unidentifiable lunch, sit at my desk, walk home – all the while feeling like it’s my birthday and nobody knows it. i’ll dread getting on facebook and seeing my friends and family celebrating together. i’ll feel like i should do something special to commemorate the day, but often, in this city, there’s no outlets available.
i think life must be so different for the teachers who live close to seoul. the foreigner community up there is massive, and the city is so westernized and modern. but down here in ol’ backwater gwangju, we do things a little differently. i think you can compare our city to the south in america. gwangju-ians are known for their delicious food, their “southern” accent, their conservative and traditional ways, and their occasional racism. so, needless to say, there wasn’t a lot going on for the fourth of july around these parts.
so, i must reiterate how thankful i am for our friends here. we’ve become more like family over the months, and the fourth was no exception. adam and angie invited us over to their place, where the big highlight and surprise of the evening was (drumroll please…) a slow cooker!
i’m not even kidding. don’t laugh. a slow cooker on the fourth of july. you have no idea how awesome this device is over here, where all our meals are typically made with 2 electric burners and nothing else. a slow cooker opens up a world of possibilities. brownies? sure. soup? you betcha. chili? just give me a few hours. roast beef, meatloaf, various dips – the options are endless.
adam and angie had slow-cooked some delicious chicken – “it falls right off the bone!” and made some mexican rice. we brought salad to add to the mix, sarah brought watermelon, and rachel brought some to-die-for cheesecake. to top it all off, angie made bloody marys, in the tradition of her family and those french canadians.
we all ate together in a circle, some sitting on the floor or in chairs, some on the bed. adam made an americana playlist to listen to (that almost transported us back as we listened), and we all reveled in the novelty of our little party – that amongst all the unfamiliar chaos, we were able to carve out a little space for the fourth of july.
there were no fireworks or parades, but i think we’ve got years ahead for that. i can’t wait for the days, but i also know that these memorable, out-of-the-ordinary experiences will make me savor each tradition and each holiday, no matter where i find myself.