The sunlight on my face felt warm despite the pleasantly cool temperature inside the air-conditioned car. I was looking at the busy street outside, filled with people dressed up for the beach. We were driving around slowly, looking for a parking lot. Jane was still asleep next to me. Mom and dad were occasionally discussing directions in a low voice, probably thinking Jane and I were both asleep. Luckily we found a spot soon, and my family joined other people with large bags, boxes of food, and swimming toys in our hands.
The beach was only modestly crowded. Mom rented one of the large beach umbrellas already set up right by the sea, and was visibly happy about getting one. She said there will be a lot more people here in a couple of hours, and we wouldn’t have gotten the parking or the umbrella if we hadn’t left home as early as we did. I thought I hid my complaints about having to wake up early, but I guess my mom read them anyway. As soon as we arrived at our umbrella, Jane and I dropped the boxes we were carrying, took off our sandals, and ran to the water. The sand under my feet was smooth, but a little too hot to stand in one spot for long. Then, our feet were in the water, cold and refreshing.
While we were getting used to the cold sea water by stepping in and out with our feet, dad joined us with two tube floats. Jane’s was smaller and shaped like a turtle with a hollow shell, and mine had a perfect doughnut shape with Lion King characters printed on it.
“Dad, where is your tube?” Asked Jane.
“I don’t need one, because I can swim.”
“Can all adults swim?”
“You don’t need to be adults to learn to swim. In fact, I learned it when I was about your age, Jane. My family lived in a house very close to a beach, and my brothers and I went swimming every day.”
“Then can I learn to swim?” Jane seemed excited.
“Maybe not today. The sea is not the best place to start because of the big waves. Maybe at a swimming pool is better.”
Riding our tube floats, dad led us into deeper water. We didn’t go further than where I could touch the bottom with my foot, but dad would leave us once in a while to swim and come back. Mom told us not to, but when dad was not with us, we would taste the seawater and giggle. It was salty and funny. Some time later, I began feeling dizzy and tired.
“Jane, I am feeling tired. Do you wanna go back?”
“Let’s wait for dad, then”
“Okay! What do you want to do when we go back?”
“Maybe I will read the book I brought. Let’s see.”
“Welcome back! How was it?”
“It was fun! Why didn’t you join us mom?” Jane replied cheerfully.
“I like here better, not getting tanned. Wanna have some fruit?”
“Hajin, should we play baduk while having fruit?” Dad asked.
“Do we have a baduk set?” I was surprised.
“Of course, I packed this travel set.” Dad took out a portable magnetic set from one of the bags we brought.
“Oh, we do have a set…” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t mind playing a game with dad anytime, but I wanted to do something other than playing baduk since we were on a vacation. But, it didn’t feel right to say no.
“Dad, Hajin said she wanted to read a book.” Jane said, seeing me not responding right away.
“Hajin, do you want to read a book instead of playing?” Dad asked.
“It’s okay. Annie, should we play?” Dad turned to mom.
“Yeah, I guess I can play,” Mom agreed.
That night back at home, mom took some cucumbers out from the freezer.
“All three of you, lay down in the living room. I will put some cucumber slices on your face to cool down the sun burn.”
Dad and Jane had laid down already, and I went to the kitchen to see mom slicing the cold cucumbers.
“Mom, I want to take swimming lessons.”
“Yes, I want to swim like dad.”
“Learning to swim is good, but I am not sure when you will have the time. This summer, you will be in Seoul for three weeks, and you spend most of your time after school at the baduk school.”
I thought about suggesting to reduce my time at baduk school, but then it didn’t sound like something an aspiring pro would say.
“You are right, never mind.”
I went to the living room and lay down next to Jane. Now that I thought about it, my face did feel a bit itchy. Cold cucumbers will be nice.