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every time I have Korean melon I can hear my maternal grandmother's voice so clearly in my mind calling us in her Chungcheong-do accent. Those summers on the farm seemed hazy in my memory for some years, but lately they seem close and vivid. I've been feeling an inchoate, liminal sense that my ancestors are near, as if they're here for the birth of our son. #참외
There was an almost fall-like coolness to the air last night as we walked through Marcus Garvey Park and circled back to open our windows to cross-winds. This summer I’ve been buying Korean melons from the local H-Mart regularly. I spent some summers of my childhood on my maternal grandparents’ farm and in Seoul. My grandmother had a head of short, permed curly hair, and the crowns in her mouth gleamed when she smiled wide or laughed. I think her voice partly stands out in my mind because hers was an accent you won’t hear too often, and my food memories from those times are visceral. When we tried the baba ganoush one night at an Upper West Side Druze restaurant called Gazala’s, I had a Proustian madeleine moment because something about the eggplant’s smokiness enveloped me in a reverie of that tiny (now mostly empty) village. It’s a strange liminal state because the visceral memories are clearly imprinted, but my actual state of mind and feelings from the time are vague. Add to that my dad’s home movies on VHS tapes, and it’s a disorienting mixture of intimate closeness and decades-distant mirage.
Still, there’s a non-mystical feeling of ancestral presence about me. And I say non-mystical because it doesn’t feel extraordinary in any way but just as it should be. I do sort of feel like I should be lingering in it though—as if there’s something in it that I need to find.