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Growing Up in My Mother’s Noodle Shop – How a Small Business Shaped My Childhood and Became a Place of Fond Memories

  I’ve lived in many places. Some are impressed, some are not. For example, the Suidoburan Mountain where my parents lived when they were newly married, the Ikawa Electric and Oscar Theater that appeared repeatedly in documentaries more than 40 years ago, and the single room where my mother washed clothes three times a day and raised three children, do not exist in my memory. . These spaces remain in my body purely in the form of stories. The same goes for the rooms after that, and the rental houses after that. They were all places I lived before I was three or four years old, and I can’t remember them. On the contrary, there is a place that even though it has been a long time, it still appears in my dreams from time to time. That is the place that has the greatest impact on me among all the spaces I have lived in – “Delicious Hall”.
  ”Meishi Tang” is a shaved noodle shop that my mother has run for more than 20 years. Our family has lived in this noodle shop for more than eight years. Compared to the time I lived there, “Delicious Hall” has a greater meaning to me, because my emotions were formed there. Childhood emotions cannot be replaced by education or nurturing, and cannot be bought or learned. At that time, I had no particular desire to learn or experience. I just absorbed everything that place gave me like breathing air.
  At lunch time, many guests poured into the “Delicious Hall” with their stories, and then dispersed like an ebbing tide. Noodles are “instant food”. The noodles should not be bloated and the soup should not be cold. There, I saw all living beings in the world composed of all classes and levels and all age groups, and I also saw fair hunger. I learned from this that cooking, before virtue and duty, is first and foremost a kind of labor. At the same time, I also saw the full confidence of women who hold economic power, and the optimistic light shining on the faces of people who feel that their lives belong to them. At that time, her mother said, “Making money is fun.” She also said that she was very excited and did not understand what the elders said, “It is better to take a day off when you are young than to take a few tonics when you are old.” Sometimes there were so many customers that two and a half bags of flour were used every day. My mother always talked about this with a boastful tone.
  My mother used the money she earned to educate her three daughters, make ends meet, and later buy a house. My mother said that because it was the first time I bought a house, I couldn’t estimate the square footage after hearing it. It wasn’t until the building was completed and saw it with my own eyes that I realized it was too small, which made me very disappointed. I originally planned to live there for a few years before moving to a bigger house, but “it’s strange, I can’t make any money from then on,” my mother often added vaguely. That was probably the pinnacle of life that I had tasted briefly, but I didn’t expect that the good times in life were so short. Mom looked at her dull hands that had been buried in flour all her life and muttered to herself.
  However, not all the money my mother earned at that time was used for livelihood. To this day, I still remember my mother’s profile as she carefully observed the beautiful bottles of cosmetics brought by the salesman, and ordered “crystal pots” and “zojirushi insulated lunch boxes” as well as special-shaped bowls and blankets from the aunt who sold imported goods at Namdaemun Market. situation. Later, my mother bought a piano and placed it in her daughter’s room across from the hotel lobby. I love that our life is not just about survival, but also about luxury, vanity and beauty. There are some stages where you just need to step on these gorgeous things to get past them. My mother is in the catering business, but she understands that life cannot be satisfied with eating and drinking, so she willingly and without any doubt bought books for her daughters, clothes and powder for herself. Perhaps it is because of this that even now, I still remember the scene when my mother lay in the small room across the hall and asked me to play “Crested Ibis” or “Hometown Land” on a leisurely afternoon without guests. There are also mom’s feet tapping in the air to the rhythm of the piano, and the tips of her socks stained with dishwater. Our family lived in a house with a traditional toilet and a grand piano. Later, I used the life during that period as material to create short works such as “Knife Mark” and “Roaring Life”.
  I once asked my mother why she suddenly decided to open a noodle shop? My mother said that under the circumstances, “my husband might die.” When I was five years old, my mother refused my grandma’s request to have a son no matter what, gave up having children, and opened this noodle shop. She also did not accept the request to “return to her parents’ family to farm”, but chose to manage her own life. Because when my mother went to the fields from morning to night every day to weed and pick peppers, we had lice on our bodies, which were clean and clean after bathing twice a day. Mom also understood that in some relationships, the expression “family” or “between families” only applies to one side. Even though the business later destroyed my mother’s fighting spirit and suffocated her, she still paid all the tuition fees for her daughters who studied in three different places and never asked us to take on the burden of livelihood. “Delicious Hall” is a positive space created by my mother with self-awareness as an economic subject and life master. Although her mother’s education is not high, in the process of fulfilling her obligations and etiquette to others, if someone tries to dictate her life, she knows how to refuse decisively. Her gift to me was her optimism about my femininity. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but for a long time I had been breathing the air in that space. Listening to the steady and regular sound of chopping vegetables, similar to the crackling sound of typing, and eating food made of flour, I gradually grew up until I was nineteen years old.
  During the summer vacation of my senior year of high school, I secretly took the art school exam against my mother’s wish for me to attend a normal university. That may not be the first time I lied to my parents, but it was a decisive lie. My little twenty percent betrayed eighty percent of the expectations that raised me. I feel like this tiny 20% changed my life. I also often think about the eighty percent that nurtured my body and mind before I made this decision, and the eighty percent that made my bones grow old and my eyesight and deafness grow. My mother’s dream when she was a child was to be a dump truck driver. Although she had little knowledge and low academic qualifications, she escaped “because we are a family”, but she did not escape very far. My mother was extremely loving to me, but sometimes she was rude to others. It’s disrespectful, she is a complex, flawed, confident woman. In the process of running her own life, she naturally allowed me to witness all this. It can be said that the noodle shop “Meishitang” nurtured me and penetrated into my life.