As much as you might hate to admit it, at one point in your life, you have probably engaged in some form of day drinking. Whether it be pre-gaming before a big football game, drinking to get rid of last night’s hangover, or just out with a bunch of friends at brunch, you have sipped on the sweet nectar that is alcohol. They say it’s 5’o clock somewhere; I say, why even make up excuses? Drinking during the day can be loads of fun and I have 4 spectacular reasons to prove it.
- It brings people together
If you’re drinking with a friend or group of friends, it makes whatever situation you’re in more fun. I got to travel to Jebudo Island with my birthmother and her friend. What I didn’t realize was that it would take two hours on the bus and train and an additional two hours by car to get there. By the time we arrived on the island, I was exhausted, hungry, and cranky.
We pulled up to the fourth restaurant (because why settle for the first restaurant you seen on the island?) and got out. It was raining, but I didn’t care. They told me that we were getting sushi and I was beyond excited! Sushi, on an island? It can’t get much fresher than that! As I walked past the tanks of fish, my stomach rumbled. Gimme that fish and we’ll be good to go.
The first thing they ordered was soju (a type of Korean rice wine). Oh, wow, ladies, it’s only 1:00 pm. Props to you for getting started early. I’ll just stick with water for now, thank you.
They picked something from the menu and the food shenanigans began. It was plate after plate of side dishes, sea creatures, and many items that I couldn’t name. The one thing that I didn’t see was sushi. At all.
I looked around and recognized a few dishes – corn covered in some sort of white sauce, daikon, and of course, kimchi. Plenty of kimchi.
The server placed a dish close to me that appeared to be moving. Scratch that, was definitely moving. Squirming is a better word for it. Holy goodness, I think it’s still alive. “Hey lady, I think you missed this one. It’s still alive,” I wanted to yell. My birthmom and her friend grabbed their chopsticks and picked up a few pieces, swirled it in sauce, and plopped it into their mouths.
“What is this?” I asked. Notice how my Korean is getting much better? *Pats self on the back with smug satisfaction*
They responded, “sannakji (산낙지)” Ok yeah… but it’s still moving. It looks like some sort of octopus tentacles. I decline to try some for the time being.
I look around at the next dish and they said that it’s “jeanbuk (전북)”. I couldn’t find what it is, so I’m thinking that I wrote it down incorrectly. Either way, it is definitely still moving. It’s not as squirmy as the first course, but there’s discernable movement in that dish. I poked it with my chopsticks and that seemed to prompt it to wiggle a bit more. Yuck. That looks like nothing I want anywhere near my mouth.
My birthmom and her friend laughed at my apprehension. Then she grabbed a conch shell and pulled some poor sucker out of it and ate it.
I looked around the table dejectedly and realized that I would probably go home hungry that day. As much as I love trying new foods, I’m not about to be one of the 6 people each year that die from suffocation when the octopus suctions to the back of their throat.
They continued drinking and “cheersing” each-other while I peeled a shrimp with its eyeballs still in its head. Stop staring at me shrimp.
- It’s encourages the use of public transportation
After lunch, I was under the impression that we were going back to the apartment. After all, we had agreed the previous day that I would go to the gym at 5:00 pm because I couldn’t go in the morning. She wanted me to wear makeup and was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough time before we were supposed to leave.
We hopped on the subway and started back towards downtown Seoul. After only 3 stops (we should’ve gone 15), we got off the train. Of course, I was confused and not at all surprised that our “plans” changed. She said that we were going to meet another friend.
We waited outside the train station and met up with a man. I asked her if it was her boyfriend and she said yes. Wait a minute, lady… two boyfriends? Wow, I can respect that. Only later did I realize that she meant that he is a friend who is a man. Not as much fun, but we’ll roll with it.
He drove us to a Korean BBQ restaurant and they ordered soju and beer. Again, I declined and stuck with water.
They mixed the beer and soju together and continued “cheersing” throughout the meal.
- It opens up doors to new adventures
After eating lots of meat and finishing the meal with the standard bowl of noodles (I like cold noodles the best), we left. Her friend said “one dinner, two dinner—cheekuhn!, coffee.” I’m pretty sure that he was joking because we all agreed that we were stuffed. I was ready to go home because it had already been a long day and I still needed to get to the gym.
We walked around for a bit; I thought we were looking for his car. Nope. Not even close.
We entered a chicken restaurant and I couldn’t help but wonder, “How much can these people eat?” Don’t get me wrong, I love a good second dinner. But not immediately after finishing at the first dinner. Give me a few hours and I’ll be raring to go.
They ordered more beer and soju. This time, I got a green tea (I know, I’m wild).
The server brought out a salad doused in dressing with fried chicken on top. Woof. I want nothing to do with that. My birthmom ate some of it and to be respectful, I grabbed a few of the leaves that didn’t have as much dressing on them and munched slowly. What the heck is happening? He didn’t touch the salad. I wonder why he was so excited to come here?
We left the restaurant and I thought “Finally, we’re going home. Gym time.”
We entered a random building and went up three flights of stairs. I looked around and thought, “Oh my goodness, this place does not seem like the kind of place that I should be on a school night.” Here are some pictures of the entrance. What does it look like to you?
It was a karaoke place! While I personally do not sing karaoke (trust me, nobody needs to hear me screeching into a microphone, no matter how under the influence you are), I do enjoy listening to and encouraging other karaoke singers.
In their drunken stupor, they sang a duet together and continued singing and playing the tambourine for the entirety of the room rental, which was about 30 minutes. I enjoyed watching them and did, for only a second, entertain the idea of singing a song in English. I mean, they won’t know if I’m off key if it’s in a language they don’t know, right?
Before I knew it, our time was over and it was time for us to leave. What a great new adventure! Thank you, alcohol, for bringing me to that magical place!
- Drinking loosens inhibitions
During the second dinner, when birthmom was talking to her friend, she started crying. I understood enough to know that she was talking about me but I didn’t know what she was saying. Alarmed, I asked her if she was upset with me. In retrospect, I could’ve been more patient and warm to her earlier that day. Frantically, I thought back through the day and the previous day and wondered if I was not kind to her, if I did not thank her enough, or what I could’ve done to be a better and more gracious guest.
She continued to cry and all I could do was hug her and pat her leg. I pulled up the translator app on my phone and typed in what she said “옛날생각에,죄책감에”. Basically, she had a lot of regret from the time of my birth. When I met her in 2012, she said that the next day after she dropped me off at the adoption agency, she tried to get me back. But, by then, it was too late. She had signed the papers and I was officially no longer her baby.
It was all I could do to stay strong for her and not to cry myself. It pains me to see people I care about crying or being upset. I continued patting her leg, then hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. I told her that I loved her and that everything would be ok. After what seemed like ages, she was able to calm down. She and her friend “cheersed” with the rest of their beer and we were off.
In all seriousness, I do not promote excessive drinking. Alcohol is not good for one’s body or health, and while it can be fun to partake in certain situations, it should be enjoyed if one is over the legal drinking age, in a safe situation, and not driving. Plus, alcohol is expensive.
While I didn’t make it to the gym that night (it was far too late), I did get to experience my birthmom in a manner that I hadn’t yet seen. She was more honest, open, and oh my goodness, did she love calling people on her phone that night.
I’m happy that because my birthmom was drinking, I was able to see her through a new lens. I learned to open my heart up and have more compassion for what she’s been through. I learned that I need to not be so impatient or calloused and that I should be gentle and as accommodating as possible.
This woman wants to give me the world but has missed out on 28 years of my life. She is only now getting her “baby” back, and she is trying to make up for lost time. She’s doing her best to start a relationship with me given the difficult situation that not only do we not speak the same language, but we are also culturally miles apart from one-another.
I am learning to take each day, each experience, each hesitant glance or touch on the arm, as an opportunity to open the doors for what I know will be a lasting and forever-loving relationship. I have a strongly renewed sense of purpose to learn Korean so that I can better communicate my feelings with her. One day, I vow to bring her to America so that she can meet the rest of my family and see the wonderful opportunities and love that I was afforded. I know that when they are able to meet each other and effectively communicate the love, respect, and gratitude that I know each of my family members feel for her, that I can finally feel that my family is complete and that my heart will be full.