CONTRIBUTED BY ZAYDA BARROS
This post was written by Zayda several months ago as she was preparing for her PCS to Yongsan. You can find out all about how she’s doing now on her blog Falling In Light.
Lately, I’ve been going quite regularly to the base gym here in Kingsland. I’ve been trying to work out and lead a healthier life and I’m slowly getting used to it. The staff there is great, they’re always nice and really helpful. On Saturday, I was returning my towel and I must have looked tired or overwhelmed, because one of the ladies that work there asked me if everything was okay. We got to talking and I told her about our move to Seoul, and her eyes lit up and she said “You’re going to love it there!”
As it turns out, she lived there about two years before I was even born, and she absolutely loved it there. It sounds a bit silly but I got excited because she is the first person I’ve met who actually lived there before, even if it was a long time ago. She said, “I’ll bring you my photo album tomorrow,” and so she did.
She had one of those huge albums, just like my mom has of me from when I was a baby, with all of these amazing photos, and they were just breathtaking. You know film doesn’t lie. There was no Photoshop for those incredible sunset colors and beautiful landscapes that I saw. She showed me photos of the house she lived in, the bars and restaurants she went to, she even had photos of a traditional Korean wedding she was invited to. I was just so grateful for her to take the time to bring this bulky, humongous book to work just because of me, I couldn’t hide my excitement.
She also kept some of the money and labels from the beer she used to drink and the things she used to eat. She told me about her job there and how she didn’t have a car and went everywhere on her bicycle. She showed me how toilets for women were back then, I didn’t like those. I just loved hearing all her stories and how she got used to such a different place.
When she was done showing me the photos, she went back to the page in which she had the money and just took the bills out and handed them to me. I told her I couldn’t take it, not because of the amount of money it was because, honestly, I had no idea how much money was there, or even if they are using the same bills today as they did 27 years ago. I couldn’t take it because it was hers. It was part of her memories from when she experienced this and I just couldn’t take it away from her. She said,”Don’t be silly, I haven’t opened this book in 20 years, it’s like $2.50, I want you to have it and go buy yourself a beer when you get there.”
My smile was huge because I just found it so nice for her to do that. This woman barely even knows me and here she is, in her own way, trying to make my transition easier. She has no idea how that gesture meant the world to me today.
So, thank you, Karen. I don’t drink beer, but I will have one for you when I get there.