It’s Memorial Day in Korea which means it is a three day weekend. Woot! I am pretty happy about that. In all of the excitement about a short work week and after our mini-trip last weekend, we sort of forgot to make plans for the next few days and by the time we got around to it, everything was booked. So, we woke up in beautiful sunny Yeosu this morning with nothing on our agenda and the sun just begging us to come out to play. It was the first morning all week that we saw the sun, so I thought, what better to do than go for a run?! One of my friends was up for a jog, so we met to go run on the trails in her neighborhood which I haven’t really explored in all eight months of being here. Now, before I go on, let me explain just a few things.
First, running outside in Yeosu, especially on mountain trails wearing only shorts and a tank top just really isn’t a thing. Many people in Yeosu have an aversion to sunshine on their skin (they want their skin to stay as light as possible) and so they hike completely bundled in layers of long sleeved clothing, hats and masks. And, running just isn’t done, except at the gym (kinda). Second, there were quite a few people out on the mountain today, enjoying their day off, so we kept passing people. Third, I am not, by any definition, a pretty runner. My normally rosy face turns scorching red within minutes of starting a run and my body simply doesn’t move gracefully. Rather, I look like a gangly fish monkey unsure of how to move properly on land or of how my limbs are supposed to act. Nonetheless, I love to run, so I ignore the awkwardness.
So, there we were, running down the trail when we came upon two fenced in garden plots. The trail narrowed to sneak between them so that is was barely wide enough for one person to go through at a time. Halfway through this little stretch, a group of women entered the trail. We slowed our pace a bit, trying to decide the best way to get around them. Upon noticing us, they stopped in mid-conversation, their faces alight with surprised smiles.
“Hi!” the first woman said.
“Annyeonghaseyo,” we panted, nearing them.
They laughed, delighted at our Korean and huddled closer to one of the fences. As we passed them by, the first woman say, “Ah, so beautiful!”
At that point in our run we were both sweaty, red-faced and totally not looking our nicest. We couldn’t help but laugh and then we panted out a quick thank you before disappearing into the trees.
Her comment stuck with me, not because it wasn’t true or because it was simply a nice things to say, but rather because she accepted us in that moment. So often I get disgruntled or startled looks when I pass people on the trails. Their looks are less welcoming, less kind. But this woman was all for what we were doing and she gave us the nicest compliment a Korean can give a foreign woman, and that is to find beauty in us for simply being us. Such acceptance is truly a golden nugget in the sea of experiences.
I hope your weekend starts beautifully!