Saw 가진 for the first time in a month on Saturday, meeting outside the Sinchon Hyundai Department Store. I hid behind a corner when I first saw her because I had butterflies. Accompanied by some Korean friend, he smiled and said, “Hi!” then immediately descending into the subway. I asked who he was, and she said, “Jealous?” I said no, then she asked about the girl I met when I was with her at the Ice Bar in Jongak, that she was curious. I told her the truth, that I talked to her a few times and we were supposed to meet, but never did.

Said she wanted me to speak Korean, so I told her that I had a present for her, but it was at home, which was incredibly easy to say. “Give me!” she yelled, holding out both hands and giggling, repeating, “Give me!” A pack of about ten Army guys turned and gawked. (She later explained that she’s the type of girl who will give me a present if I give her one).

Told her I wanted to go to a quiet place so we could talk. We searched for a while and she said there was no such place there, but we then found a basement vinyl bar and were the only customers there. She bust out her English vocabulary book to showcase the severity of her daily quizzes. Then she wrote Korean sentences for my “homework”. I love collecting her handwriting and am so excited because she gave me her address and we made a promise to write letters! She couldn’t believe it had been a month since we last saw each other, and she was impressed with my improved Korean, as I was with her English.

Drank our first beer at the table and brought our second to the bar to talk to the owner. Ka Jin thought we should spend some time with her because she seemed lonely. I was a little bored since they were talking in Korean and tried to follow along as best I could, but listening to The Doors, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Abba (her favorite) and Hendrix on vinyl was incredible. Then another bartender arrived and some much older customers. Ka Jin asked me if I thought the other bartender was beautiful (the two of them talked for a minute) and I said yes, but she believed the lady was sad, to which I agreed. I told her, “You’re very special to me, Ka Jin.” She said that I was a fool: “I don’t like boys. I don’t like girls. I don’t like people.” She clarified that she does like me but her heart is too busy with school to devout her full attention to romance right now. She told me how much she hated Korean culture, that the pressure for her age is to get a job and the pressure for mine is to get married. I said, “Fuck Korea. Fuck your parents. Just because you were taught something, doesn’t mean you have to follow,” and she explained that while she loves her parents, she doesn’t listen to them. A little earlier her mom called and she freaked out, had to run outside to answer it. Her mom said she missed her and asked if she was studying, and she said, “Oh yeah, mom, studying hard!”

We were still talking about culture when the owner presented us with a persimmon and some fish to snack on, as I said I was hungry. Once we finished the food, she gave us each a little red envelope with a solid gold laminate card inside for good luck. Her and Ka Jin exchanged numbers, the lady soon texting her that she was so sweet. Ka Jin explained that the lady offered her a part-time job. I think it will be good for her (and my wallet) to have a job again.

We went to KFC for a snack as I was still a bit hungry, and then a 24 hour restaurant for soup and soju, that devil killer. Every time I said, “You’re so beautiful,” she replied with shy eyes, “I know,” then excited, “Am I pretty, sexy, beautiful?” to which I said the same thing. She kept joking, “You’re too old. And I’m too young!” I jokingly proposed and she made her patented, “Eek!” face, said she was afraid of marriage. She explained that the guy she met three years ago from Mississippi only wanted to “make sex” to which I laughed. Though she was joking when she said, “Your face is old. Tired,” I started to cry, mostly because of my inability to control my feelings toward her. She got really sad and wiped my tears and comforted me: proving that she has a heart.

When the food came, we started on the soju and in no time we were both trashed. I told her I was popular and showed her my collection of girl’s numbers. Bad idea, cause she showed me her collection of boy’s numbers: over a hundred. She did admit that I was very special to her and she said to “stay,” meaning to wait until she’s done with school in February so that she can focus her heart on me and not homework.

I sat against the wall next to her and started to fall asleep. “I’m going to sleep with you?” she asked. “Yeah,” I said, “let’s take a nap right here.” I was serious because she was way drunk and I was way tired. We didn’t nap, we left and walked around for an hour or so so that she could sober up. The subway finally opened and we got on the train and into seats and everyone’s staring and she’s passing out on my shoulder when I realize we’re on the wrong side and have to switch trains. She was coherent at the transfer station alone, though I escorted her to the gate.

Final thoughts: I’m willing to wait. She’s the sweetest and truest girl I’ve ever met, not to mention she’s as intense as me (though she holds it back, maybe cause she’s afraid she’ll scare me away). I wish she didn’t drink so much—there’s a point where we’re both drunk and it’s fine, but then too much (either of us) and the transformation into living monster happens. She’s very independent-minded, and I don’t believe she’s trapped by the culture, attempting to transcend it. There’s definitely something special between us, and I’m probably an idiot by continually pushing the girlfriend boyfriend thing. I need to just enjoy every moment we share.

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