Friday, November 8, 2013

Biking Through Memories

I just got back from my morning ride.  I use this time for thought, rethinking prose, working off frustration, communing with nature, and planning my writing for the afternoon.

My brain was busily composing one of the chapters for the book, Gifted and Cursed: what we learned from parenting extreme learners, when I turned by the tennis courts in our local park.

There was an Asian lady getting a drink from the water fountain out front.  She stopped me and in very broken English asked me where I'd gotten my bike.  Much of what she wanted to convey she did through simple sign language.

I, in turn, told her I got it from the Bicycle Chain and gave her bare minimum instructions, using lots of mime.

She explained the bike was for her since her kids were old and gone, and once again, she used mostly sign language.  She asked how much the bike cost.

I told her and she wrote out the digits in her hand.  That was the last straw.

I asked, "Are you from South Korea?"

Her eyes went wide and she nodded vigorously.  "Yes!  Yes!  No Chinese!  Korean."

I told her I had grown up in South Korea.  I lived in Yongsan in Seoul near E-Tae-Won.

We commenced a spirited conversation that was eighty percent mime, and we understood each other very well.  She kept touching my arm and smiling.  I could have been eight years old in that moment.  Every time she spoke to her husband in Korean to explain what we were saying he'd grin ear to ear.  She told me their names, and was tickled pink that not only did I understand them the first time, but was able to say them back to her.

We stood there, talking with our whole bodies for five minutes.  She asked if I knew any Korean and I said hello and addressed them the way a Korean child would address an older lady and gentleman because that's all I know.  They didn't care, they seemed to love it.  They were grinning fit to beat the band and I felt like a proud child showing off a finger painting.

Before I rode away, I bowed respectfully to her husband, who returned the gesture, and I did the same for his wife.  They were still grinning as I rode home.

I loved growing up in Korea and that small brush with my childhood had me humming, smiling and just downright loving life even more than I had when I was crunching through the leaves earlier on my way to the shed.

On a nippy, bright fall morning a middle aged African American woman got a chance to travel backwards to her childhood, and bring a little bit of Seoul, Korea to two people on a long life journey.

The only thing that truly separates us is our false insistence that we are not connected.

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