The Landlady

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The landlady and her husband. A final portrait on my last day.

The week before I moved out, my landlady led me down to the 시장 to treat me to some 떡볶이.

“Remember when I brought you here three years ago?” she asked me.

Yes, I remember. One of the first days after I moved in she led me to the traditional market to show me where to buy panchan. She gave me a small container of Kimchee and her phone number.

As my Korean began to improve more and more she would utilize me as her translator. Whenever a new foreigner moved in she would knock on my door. “살구시,”she would call out through the door to see if I was home. She’d tell me to tell them about the management fee which was due every month or that we got a new food waste trash can and make sure you don’t throw your bones and eggshells in it.

I have been lucky to have the sweetest landlady the last three years. We both arrived in Jochiwon at the same time. My building was brand new when I first moved in, so she was new to owning it too.

As I was getting ready to move out she was super helpful~ she kept poking her head in my door and  asking if I needed her to help me pack. She could see I was struggling with fitting the last of my stuff in the two suitcases I’d brought. “Why don’t you mail it?” She suggested and even brought me a cardboard box.

On my last day she ordered 짜장면 and invited me upstairs for lunch. She insisted on driving me to the train station and her husband helped me carry my bags from the car to the platform. He commented as we walked that he felt like he was sending his daughter off to school or something.

They weren’t my family, but they’d become the uncle and aunt that lived upstairs. They told me to make sure and stop by when I’m in town. I guess, when you are wandering, you collect family wherever you go.

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5 thoughts on “The Landlady

  1. meesookw says:

    Finally hear from you !
    Great family to add on !
    Love you Salgu !
    You’re Awesome photographer and writer!!
    Ommha

  2. Dan says:

    I was happy to see your parents last Friday night at another gathering of our “group with no name.” We missed you as we sang another version of “Those Were The Days.” After that evening your mother gave me the link to your blog, and now I am happy to find you in the blogosphere. Because I lived with a family in Korea (1970-72), I could identify with your description of the bond that developed between you and your fellow newcomer to Jochiweon. I wish you well on your journey and commend you for the effort you are making to find your way through one adventure after another.

    BTW, the song that Grace and I did last Friday was a compilation of verses we took from versions of the songs we sang over many years. Here’s the one we sang for your parents in 2002 at the Lunar New Year party they hosted:

    Bob and Meesook hosted Lunar New Year.
    Their new home’s the place for revelry.
    And what’s the secret of this lasting marriage?
    They find peace in the Wissmath DMZ!

    • Salgu says:

      Dan! It brings me great joy to recieve your comment and well wishes! I had a sneaking suspicion my mom was spreading my blog link throughout the Sacramento sphere. She’s quite the publicist, isn’t she? 🙂 It’s great because I don’t have to do any self-promotion on my own.

      I have so many fond memories of our “group with no name.” Every once in a while I have a chance to sing “Those were the days” at the 노래 방 when it’s listed in the song book.

      I always enjoy your verses! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I’m pretty certain it was growing up with all those songs that cultivated my songwriting abilities. So thanks for all the ear training!

  3. Dan says:

    Hi, Salgu! Great to hear from you and know that our group still resonates with you. Those experiences have etched indelible memories in my life. It has been great watching you and your family grow with the times. It is especially gratifying that those experiences remain a lively part of your life. I like your term “ear training.” It reminds me of having learned the term “ear for music” from my mother, who was my first piano teacher. There seems to be no end to the ways in which music can enrich our life no matter where we are in the world. I would love to receive any song that you may write (or have written!)

    Take care and travel safely and alertly!

    Dan

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