I awoke to an overbearing smell of hot sauce. It was that time again. The time I could not invite anyone over to my home, knowing they would simply not understand. I could hear dishes clanging against each other, and the kitchen faucet's steady stream.
I got up, walked over to one of the bar stools, and watched as my mother prepared the kimchee. She smiled at me when she noticed I had taken a seat without saying a word. I didn't want to interrupt her concentration while she prepared the common Korean dish, but the smile on her face made me want to help her through this grueling process—adding spices, mixing, lifting heavy pieces of cabbage to the rugged cutting board.