It’s the mid-90’s and my grandmother is at our house, My sister and I are in elementary school and my grandmother is on babysitting duty as she always was. We sit in the rear, sun drenched room of which we have deemed “the playroom” and this is where we pass the time. 할아버지 is either in the back gardening or somewhere else completely, but all I ever paid attention to was 할머니.
In the playroom I became Korean.
My grandmother would teach my sister and I some silly Korean songs. The only one I remember doesn’t even apply to me because it makes a “누나” reference. I am not a boy, yet I sang that song loud and proud because it was the only one I could remember. I resonated more with the jolly and funny nature of the song, my 할머니 singing and hopping around as we danced with her.
Once we sat by the small, wooden 상 on the floor and for a while all my grandmother taught us was origami. She was such a pro. We started with simple cranes and quickly advanced to frogs, turtles and then the holy grail of origami clothes. My memory never really retained anything past the crane. Stephanie was always better than me at origami so I quickly lost interest.
Many years later I would make her 1,000 cranes.