Maple and I spent the afternoon out and about all by our lonesome today. While Chloe and Daddy headed off to go swimming with the children's church, the little one and I headed to HomePlus - the mother of all home good stores here in Korea. Several American friends of ours will be flying into Seoul in about 10 days for an English summer camp (more on that later), and I was in desperate need of some household pick-me-ups. A new shower curtain since $10 is totally worth saving me the effort of cleaning mine. A new tea kettle since my el-cheapo one has been used several times a day, everyday, since February. A pint of ice cream since... well... since mommies deserve a little treat every now and then too.
I am beginning to find that with each trip I take out and about I am met with several contrasting emotions.
For instance, on our trip this afternoon, I was overwhelmed with how comfortable I have become in this town. HomePlus is on the other side of the city from us. So, I walked 2 miles to the bank to get some cash then flagged down a taxi to take me the rest of the way to the store. When we were finished shopping, I walked 5 blocks to the station, took the subway to our local station, grabbed a taxi there and rode home. All with relative ease. As I sat waiting for the subway train, I remembered our first outing without a Korean guide back in January. We went to the local grocery store and home again in a taxi. I was so proud of us for making it back in one piece! So, it was exciting today to see how far I have come in being able to negotiate my way around this foreign countryside (even without Brandon there to guide me!).
But then there are other emotions that come with outings like this. I rarely go anywhere without feeling the curious eyes of strangers watching my every move. In the beginning, I tried to be polite. Smile. Nod. "Anyonghaseo." But I found myself spending more time bowing than actually shopping. So I just started to ignore them. This seems to prove fairly effective most of the time. But occasionally, there are those people who make themselves very difficult to ignore. They gasp. They point. They snicker. They stare. On days when I am feeling particularly witty, to those people I say, "No autographs, please." or "Take a picture; it will last longer." or "Wow! look at that Korean!" But on days like today, when I just want some "me time" to shop in peace, it's all I can do not to cry... or cuss... at the very rude, very nosy, very obnoxious people who insist on invading my bubble and sticking their fingers in my baby's face. Grrr.
I don't have a point to this post except to say that, in a foreign country, even things that should be simple - like getting a new shower curtain - are fraught with emotion.
Tomorrow is Sunday. I'm glad. I like Sundays.