While I was in Korea I schemed with my aunt for us to meet in Los Angeles. I knew that her daughter and her new husband were to opening their own chiropractic practice in a few months, and since I missed their wedding last November I wanted to pay a visit. I suggested to my aunt that it would be fun for Mom and I to make the trip out together, and how great it would if all the “girls” got to hang out. It didn’t take much convincing (I think she wanted to go even before I mentioned it) and we planned to see each other in July.
It did take a bit more to convince my Mom to travel without my Dad, however. Or was it that my Dad needed to feel comfortable being left at home? During the 40 or so years they have been together my Mom had never traveled alone so I guess there was some thinking involved. But in the end, things turned out the way I had imagined and it was going to be a ladies’ outing after all. What I didn’t anticipate was the cooking frenzy that occurred days before our departure. I think it must have started a full week before we were set to leave. Big pots and pans came out along with giant Tupperware containers, and for days there were things simmering, baking, boiling, grilling, and broiling all around. Mom made enough food to feed a small army for several months; I guess it was appropriate to take care of a guy who barely gets a glass of water for himself let alone boil a pot of water.
Whether either of them felt bad or sad about leaving or being left I couldn’t tell. But with the refrigerator and the freezer stocked full and after a full briefing on how to reheat various ready-to-eat meals, my Mom and I found ourselves on the train headed towards the airport on a bright and early July morning. My recent addiction to Korean soap operas on Hulu and the subsequent result of not getting enough sleep the night before made the ride a sleepy one but our trip to the airport was otherwise smooth and easy. We timed things just right, arriving at the airport with about an hour before takeoff but the flight itself was delayed and I lamented the extra hour I could have slept. It was a packed flight with every seat on the plane occupied and it also meant that we didn’t have enough room to store our carry on luggage. I ended up having to check mine in at the gate, just a slight inconvenience. Without any headwind our flight to LA only took about 4 hours. Upon arrival, our welcome party intercepted us even before we reached baggage claim- we were greeted warmly by emo, Raisa, Barney, and the hot southern California sun.
On the way to my cousin’s condo we stopped in Korea town for lunch of hamhung nangmyun and potato pancakes. We had just had nangmyun the previous day for lunch and I wasn’t too keen on having it again but it ended up being quite delicious. I drank every last drop of the cold refreshing broth and blinked open my sleep deprived eyes. It was as good as the nangmyun I had in Seoul and it being Korea town, the prices were friendly and we were surrounded by Koreans. It felt like Korea all over again. Even though Mom and emo haven’t seen each other in a couple of years they talk all the time so there didn’t seem to be a lot of catching up on their end. But I was meeting my cousin’s husband Barney for the first time (he seemed very laid back and nice) and it was a great shock to see how my cousin’s daughter Raisa had grown. She was half my size the last time I saw her and now at the age of 12 she practically dwarfed me. I wondered if I was getting shorter…
The rest of the day was spent chatting, laughing, and lounging. Emo was in great spirits but unfortunately emobu was still suffering from gout and not well enough to go on the road trip I’d planned. We had to be adjust accordingly; Emo said we’d leave her husband behind and take my cousin’s daughter Raisa instead. With her business opening in just days my cousin couldn’t go with us and so it was decided. Mom, emo, Raisa, and I would leave the next morning after breakfast. Just us four women. Let the fun begin!
Oh, Dad called to ask whether we’d arrived safely and to say all was well with him.
Ham Hung Restaurant: 3109 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA I liked their mul nangmyun (cold noodle soup) better than bibim nangmyun (mixed/spicy noodles). The mandoo place next door does great steamed veggie and beef dumplings- they are large dumplings, called wangmandoo.