Here, babies are considered one as soon as they are born. The following January, whether that’s 11 months or 1 day away, the baby turns two. So for 11.5 months of the year, in Korea, I am actually two years older than my American age.
So, actually, I will be 29 in January. Kind of scary, right?
But have no fear, my Korean co-teachers told me after they serenaded me with a jolly happy birthday song and a Paris Baguette chocolate cake in the teacher’s lounge today.
“You are in the prime of your life,” they said.
Actually, now I’m not sure if they said “prime” or “peak” but either way, I hate to think that one must travel downhill at any time in his or her life. I certainly don’t plan to.
And just to prove I’m still a kid at heart, I went ice skating on Saturday. For those of you who know me well, you know that this is my most favorite thing I never get to do.
I was so obsessed with ice skating as a girl that I was convinced–CONVINCED–that if Mom and Dad would move to a city that actually had an ice skating rink then I could be the next Kristi Yamaguchi. I could just feel it. I don’t know what it is: the frilly short skirts and sequins or being hoisted into the air to hold some elegant ballet pose above a dashingly handsome male skater. But, but really and honestly, I just love the feeling of gliding over ice.
The only ice we had in Tennessee was the kind that came in our tea. So I had to find other hobbies.
Lucky for me now, I do have an ice-skating rink in my backyard. And this weekend, we finally took advantage of it, a weekend hangout for a sea of helmet-clad Korean kids (and a few of our own students).
A group of our friends came along as well. Most of us were at the same level. Daring enough to try tricks like spinning and skating backward and seeing how high we could lift one leg while skating forward. But others in the group clung to the wall for dear life. I know they must love me to suffer like that just for my birthday and a few laughs.
We even raced around the rink through the crowds (don’t worry, it was one at a time), and of course, our Canadian friend Tony took that trophy home.
Skating in Korea is like you might imagine it: crowded. It was chaos trying to figure out what skates to put on. “What size-uh?!? WHAT SIZE-UH?!?” The man in charge yelled impatiently at us. Luckily, one young girl spoke English and helped us out. And lucky for me, I have bought enough shoes here to know my Korean size (and outfit an army of women, Whit would add).
I celebrated my birthday in total Korean tradition, with a dinner of sangyupsal (pork) and rice cakes, and then an evening at the noraebang singing songs like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
It was a birthday to remember. But since I don’t plan on peaking out any time soon, I’m sure the good times will keep on rolling. And one thing is for sure. I better get out of this country before I’m considered 30.