Today I wanted to share a happy update: My husband is exactly halfway through his firefighter training program. Here is the two-part story of how he started this career path. I had a lot of confidence as I wrote those posts, because I knew Sung was well-prepared and extremely motivated to succeed.
But now I feel even more confident that he will graduate. The best word to describe him right now is “thriving.” Every day he wakes up at 4:30 to study. He studies through his lunch break and then again after we eat dinner. They have to take many tests each week and he gets A’s on all of them.
When he’s not studying, he practices tying knots in different kinds of rope.
It’s not all classroom hours. There’s daily physical training. They also have to rappel off a four-story building, maneuver extension ladders, and of course spend lots of time with fire hoses.
He told me that the instructors always choose him to go first when they are learning a new skill. They really like him. Even though he’s new to the culture of firefighting, having played football and worked in a kitchen helps him fit in.
By now we have our weekends down to a precise rhythm. Saturday we take the day to relax. Sunday we get up early, I go to the laundromat and Sung takes his truck to the carwash. When we come back, I clean the house while he irons his uniform and polishes his boots. Then I use his study guides to quiz him.
Even though he is so busy, he still makes time to cook with me. Yesterday we made kimchi sundubu jjigae (soft tofu stew) for the first time. We missed eating Korean food because there’s no Korean restaurant in our town. But there are two small Asian grocery stores so we were able to get all the ingredients. It turned out delicious. Next time I need to quadruple the recipe because we both wanted more.
While we were eating we’re reminiscing about how much our lives changed because of the pandemic and losing our restaurant jobs. Would we have moved up to NorCal? Would we have decided to change our careers? Would we be married? Who knows!
Sung said that when he was growing up in New Jersey, being a firefighter was never on his radar. His parents never presented this job as an option.
No one in my family is in the fire service, but up here in NorCal, wildfires are our unfortunate reality. Cal Fire is a big part of our world and working for them is highly respected. When we stayed with my grandparents in Glen Ellen, my grandfather often spoke about how the firefighters had saved their house. I think that’s what planted the idea in Sung’s mind.
He told me: “Firefighting is the perfect career for me. I never knew something could fit me this well. If I hadn’t met you, I never would have found out about it.”
That made me feel really happy.