My parents, siblings and I tended to ignore the fact that our house was a mere ten minute drive from our nation’s capital and all it had to offer. When we would find ourselves together again over the holidays, we would spend every day sitting around chewing the fat, both literally and figuratively. Our all-day gabfests would be punctuated only by meals during which the conversation would move seamlessly from the couch to the table. It never occurred to us that this could be considered a squandered opportunity until our family circle began to expand. When my sister got married and her athletic, go-getter husband from New York started coming home for the holidays with her, he would pace like a caged animal while we indulged in our favorite pastime of talking and eating, eating and talking. In his frustration, my brother-in-law mournfully dubbed this particular brand of torture: “Sitting in the Basement.”
Should we go see the thriller that just came out, or hear my sister re-tell the plot? Please believe me when I tell you, my sister’s rendition was far, far more gripping than watching it on the big screen could ever be. Score one for Sitting in the Basement. Go to the Sackler Gallery, or hear my dad’s stories about life in the Korean countryside that presented us with a much more vivid picture than any painting could? Definitely the latter! By all means, and without a doubt – Sitting in the Basement! A) Go to a performance at the Kennedy Center, or B) Clutch our bellies howling with laughter through tears, desperately trying not to pee ourselves as we listened to one of my little brother’s comedy routines? B) Always, always B! Sitting in the Basement for the win! Go out to eat at a restaurant, or eat my mom’s Korean food laced with vegetables yanked out of the backyard only moments before? Hello?! Do I even have to say it? Every holiday my poor, long-suffering brother-in-law would helplessly watch his dreams of exploring Great Falls Park, hitting the museums, or just emerging into the light of day slip through his fingers and swirl away into the vortex otherwise known as: Sitting in the Basement.
These days when we get together, my brother-in-law and husband escape from the house more often, but we still get to do a lot of Sitting in the Basement. This winter break, over never-ending platters of food, my dad regaled us with more stories about his childhood and the foods they ate, or rather didn’t get to eat. In my next post, we can pretend that we’re Sitting in the Basement while I share them with you.