I was asking myself, how come that BTS was the most popular group in the world, but I didn’t encounter even one news item about them since I have arrived in the US?
So, I asked my sister about them the following day. She came with her family with some food and a bouquet of flowers.
Imagine that! Taking time to ask about BTS, while we’re all busy and excitedly greeting each other, and updating ourselves about family news.
“Do you know BTS?”
I found it funny that I had to ask about BTS from my sister. Who was just curious about family news back home. Ha ha ha.
“Oh, the Korean boy band?”
My sister did know who they were. I felt elated.
“They were on the news last month for their stadium concert,” she blurted out. “Why? Are you ARMY?” Oh she knew what ARMY was too.
“Yes,” I cried out loud.
She laughed and said, “Well, the kids are being introduced to them by Airel.”
Airel was their cousin in Wyoming.
“Airel is an avid ARMY,” my sister informed me.
I had known Airel was an ARMY when they went home to the country the previous month. And I was excited to meet her again and talk more about BTS.
Well, at least, I smiled to myself, I have encountered BTS again.
I spent the next days touring around LA with my sister. We also visited my sister-in-law who has permanently resided there.
We walked half a day along Hollywood Boulevard, and toured Universal Studios. We also watched “Men in Black” in one of the cinemas.
We made a round of the eateries and diners in the area too. I wanted to taste American cuisine, but the dishes and food were diverse: Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and Korean.
Everywhere I went, I wished I could meet an ARMY. I guess they were out there – unidentified. I was just not lucky enough to encounter them in person. Instead, I encountered indifferent people, who were in a hurry to their destinations, and at one time, I was even shoved out of the way by someone.
There were a few friendly people, who smiled back at me, but that I can count them with my fingers. Hollywood Boulevard was peppered with a string of stores of different merchandises from T-shirts, to trinkets, to souvenir items. There were throngs of people everywhere that it made me dizzy.
I was an introvert, and I preferred staying home or being with a small crowd.
But I had to take advantage of touring while I was there in LA, so I can, at least, brag that I have been there.
There was the “Walk of Fame” that I and my group took pictures of. I, also, bought some t-shirts with the Hollywood word emblazoned on it, and some trinkets.
My sister whispered, “Look at the label, it may say: “Made in the Philippines”. I laughed out loud at the thought.
“Really?” I asked my sister in disbelief.
“Really,” she replied. “Some of the items sold here in the states are actually made in our country and somewhere else.” That was another learning experience. “Well,” she continued, “the material is from the States, but it’s done in the Philippines.”
Some of my students saw my FB posts and texted me for meet-ups, so I had also spent time meeting them. How I had wished I could meet them all. I knew there were still dozens of them in the area. However, not every one of them knew that I was there.
I met a few of them as the cum laude of the 2014 batch, El Marie, held a small party for me and her classmates. It was nostalgic reminiscing about their days when they were still in college. We laughed a lot remembering the funny and poignant memories of their adventures and misadventures.
I was and am still proud of how successful they have all become. I was happy, they still remembered me even after they have graduated.
Marilyn and her family, her husband, David, and her kids, Yohan and Jeremiah, also brought me to – guess what? A Korean restaurant. Yes!
It was the best Korean resto I have ever been, so far. They had various side dishes, rice, meat and kimchi. I had a sumptuous feast. Thank you, “Gamsahabnida.”
Thank you so much for the warm hospitality, Marilyn and family. I enjoyed my incredible LA tour.
After a week of touring sunny California, I was on a plane again for Denver.
This time I was more or less confident on how to go about the trip.
Anyhow, Marilyn helped me out to check in and accompanied me all the way to my gate. I was still the scatterbrain and klutz that I was, and I was thankful she was there to assist me. Thank you, dearest sister.
The almost 3-hour flight to Denver was short but cramped. When we arrived in Denver, I was surprised to note that I had to ride a train to go to the luggage claim area. I asked several times before I boarded the train because it might bring me somewhere I didn’t want to be.
My youngest sister, Kerry, was waiting for me at the baggage claim area. They went out of their way to fetch me when they were all busy with work. I was thankful for that.
There were throngs of people but she noticed me right away. She was with her husband, Arvin and their youngest son, Aldrin. Airel, the eldest, was not able to come because of choir practices. She was a member of their church choir.
Aldrin greeted me with a garland as he welcomed me to Denver. I was touched as the little gentleman hugged me and decorated my neck with his garland of flowers. I felt like I was a VIP.
After some hugs, we went to eat. They had definitely big servings in the states; I could hardly consume mine, although they were delicious.
We proceeded to Cheyenne, Wyoming by car. It was a 2-hour ride that started sunny and ended up cloudy and wet. The scenery on the road was incredible. The beautiful Rocky Mountains towered at the distance, and the clear blue skies revealed a vast superb landscape worthy of a Van Gogh.
Then, there was an abrupt change of the weather, from sunny to rainy.
The weather turned dark and ominous. The lightning streaks were as scary as hell.
Kerry informed me that the weather in Wyoming and other parts of the states was erratic and sometimes drastic. But, we arrived safely anyhow, and went straight to my aunt Fe’s house.
There was an on-going party as her grandkids were there for a vacation. I was able to meet everyone. They were and still are such a lovely family. The beautiful kids had inherited their mom and dad’s Ameresian looks.
It was such a joy meeting all of them in person after only viewing their pictures on Facebook. They were certainly more attractive in reality. And they were all so warm and welcoming.
The house was modest to look at from the outside, but inside, it was spacious and comfy. It seemed made of meticulously assembled red bricks, but it was not.
The basement area was even larger than the upper floor. The backyard was definitely bigger than any of the neighboring houses.
I went around meeting all the family members, and afterwards, we ate a sumptuous dinner. I was full merely looking at the variety of succulent dishes on the table. There were three types of cake flavors; there was ice cream; American dishes that I wasn’t able to identify. It was a feast.
We left for Kerry’s house after a few hours as they were worried I may be tired. Indeed, I was feeling a bit off.
“Anyway, we have two whole months together,” my aunts, Minda and Fe, stated firmly.
So, off we went to Kerry’s.
And I finally got to meet again my niece, Airel – an avid ARMY!
“Hello, ARMY,” I greeted her with a huge hug.
She beamed at me with her shy smile, and led me to my room, which Aldrin gladly allowed me to use.
There was a welcome note on the bed, together with new towels, and guess what?
BTS book markers. Wow! He knew I was an ARMY too.
His room had some BTS posters and memorabilia, but his sister’s room amazed me more. It was a genuine ARMY haven.
To be continued…
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, here they are: