Thursday, June 18, 2009

Welcome to Korea Town

So as most people who regularly read this blog will know, we recently moved to an apartment building so that Jeremy could be closer to school. This experience has been a new one for me as I've never lived in a place where I had no access to the outdoors unless I walked out the front door of a building. That is to say, I've always had some form of personal outdoor space in which I could grow something green. Plants are very important to me and most people that know me will attest to the fact that in the summer I can usually be found digging in the dirt and growing things. That has probably been the hardest part of adjusting to life in a high(ish) rise apartment building. Even though there are communal outdoor garden and park areas, it's just not the same. It's not MY piece of Earth and dirt to do with what I wish.

I've also discovered that the majority of people living in these buildings are Korean. I've only spoken with a few of the women as many of them recently moved here and don't know much English, and admittedly, my Korean could use some work. Despite the language barrier, I have come to greatly appreciate the little things I've learned about their culture and what I'm assuming is Asian culture in general. The children are some of the most polite I've ever seen and they ALWAYS hold the door open for me even though they usually have to wait awhile as these days I'm found pushing a stroller the size of a suburban around. At the swimming pool the line their shoes up in a neat row against the fence of the kiddie area, and I'm assuming it's the same inside their homes.

I took a walk last night with Ari and as it always does during evening walks, the voyeur in me came out and I looked into the open windows of apartments to glimpse a moment of the lives of others . What I saw was heartwarming. People sitting around a table playing cards and laughing, a Father and Son reading books together, children playing with toys. Not one TV set did I see, which is more than I can say for my own home these days. Since the baby was born PBS is synonymous for babysitter on some days.

But by far the strangest thing of all that I've observed living here is the foyer table and it's mysterious contents. Upon entering my building, there is a table that sits under a mirror against the wall where the hallway splits in two. Nearly every day that I've passed it I've noticed objects left there. Sometimes it's clothing, other times it's a toy, others a book. But they are almost always gone the next time I walk out. This puzzled me for a long time until recently. What was this? Were these items lost and this was a makeshift lost and found? Then I realized that people were merely giving these things away. And I thought, what a beautiful thing!

Here you have two adorable salt and pepper shakers, which I was tempted to take, but thought better of it.
This was the sign that cleared things up for me. They even bothered to fi=old them and tape them together. How thoughtful!

I'm so used to American consumerism and capitalism where everyone is out to make a buck, myself included, that I'm used to saving up all my "junk" for a garage sale or listing it on craigslist or Ebay. But not these people. Instead they graciously just pass them along to someone else who could use them. Like a communal pool of goods. And it was the icing on my cake yesterday to be able to contribute to the pool. What did I leave? A copy of David Sedaris's new book which I devoured and gladly passed on. I questioned whether Sedaris's humor would resonate with these Conservative, quiet people and thought that I would have to reclaim my book because it sat there for the better part of a day. But then this morning when I went out, it was gone.

People of Korea, I bequeath you David Sedaris, an American treasure! Although he lives in France.

Later, my book was joined by a shirt and bag of undisclosed items

The Foyer Freebies will be a continuing series of mine and we'll see what kinds of goodies can be found here. * I have yet to take anything.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

We do that in our building too! And we did in our last building in the same complex as well- it is so awesome to not have to just "throw" everything away. We have a few mixing bowls and kitchen utensils that (after a good, hot washing in the dishwasher) have been used time and time again, after finding them in a box for grabs in the entryway. Whenever we do a big clean up or don't need something, we'll just drop it in the foyer and by the end of the day, it's gone.

I must say, the BEST moment was coming home to a CASE of San Pellegrino sitting there. Needless to say, we were drinking fizzy water for a few days! :)

Things like that make up for the fact the only "garden" I can have is a tiny basil plant clinging to life through the screened in window in the kitchen.