There was something more. There was the familiarity of the smells of the burning pine and cedar, and the crackling of the embers in the otherwise still White Mountains. The paralyzing cold of the new day’s breeze was lively and bold. I would bend down low and spring up high to meet it, unclothed and cleaned by the Black River. The vigor for life began there. There are no awkward silences.
My Madrina Chata’s frijoles inside of a fresh tortilla de arina, and warm café con leche in my baby bottle have always lingered in the mouth of my mind. It was coated too thick to have rinsed completely. I smell it in the streets before dawn as the rooster crows: a smell linked to brown skin, smiling eyes, strong hands, white hair. I taste that smell and it’s beautiful.
I know the anger my father had. I felt that anger. I smelled my mother’s fear. I felt her heartbeat as she tried to run from demons from her past. But I knew those demons from long ago. I knew their weaknesses. I killed them as she slept.
I know this place, this earth. I have been here many times before. Its patterns were never hard to memorize. Memorization of these patterns for circumnavigation is necessary. But plagued are the ones who make trades for the map through the middle.
A year ago, I fled to Korea, a country I knew nothing about. For surely this country would be new to me. I wanted new and needed it too. I left my family and all material and emotional valuables behind. I was stripped down to nothing. I had no weapons, no amour, no shield: my journey would be too far to carry anything but my own weight.
“Destined-for-something-greater-than” leaves a noxious idea in the pit of my mind. I spit it out and close my teeth. Then I bite my tongue and taste my blood. It tastes of me and I know it. I bit my tongue to prevent. I bite my tongue to maintain.
There was something out there. It was in Night’s whisper and it pushed me into the pull of Moon. She is blunt and brutal. But when you howl at the Moon, she will howl back, and her tears wash away the excess and the foreign.
In Korea, I hardly recognize the moon, and she me. I am not where she always saw me waiting, on top the hilliest house, on tallest rooftop with tears and grins, tears, love, and nothingness: transitioning at her cue. I am on the other side of the world. I see her beauty new by light and angle. I stand on the ground, barefoot, and I wait until she comes to sight. I don’t chase her. I don’t cry. But I hear her. Her voice is soul and hands and salt.
My goal is to translate life in Korea into words and share it with you. Korea is a beautiful, lovely, warm, deep, and alive place. Kinship is core. And family is at the root of that kinship. Food brings the families and friends together.
Culture and community are centered on sharing food and feeding one another. Livelihood, respect, pride, beauty and substance, kindness, helpfulness, love, light, and closeness: those are the words I associate to my experience this far. In each article, I will be writing to one topic, yet I have a sneaking suspicion they will ultimately intertwine. That is the beauty of truth. And that is the beauty of humanity. My name is Annie. It’s nice to meet you.