Last night at a New Jersey-themed party I discovered the identity of the man who, several nights previously, I had tried to help a friend avoid on the dance floor. He became the first person to address me in Korean in the United States and we had my second most satisfying conversation of the Aspen vacation. The first being with an alumnus who now lives in San Fran who said my earrings were among his favorite earrings ever, though the number ones were a pair of IUDs that a friend co-opted for fashion.
The really pressing question out of that story being “Used?”
It wasn’t a terribly intellectual conversation, by any means, but to have those words and places, mostly foods and places, in common—Seoraksan, boshingtang—it reinforces that the memory is really a memory and not an extended dream that I woke up from to enter the land of PIRG. Which is how it can feel when an entire year of experience becomes irrelevant to your daily life, although it props up those days in ways that you don’t always recognize. Until you realize that it’s been a long time since anyone intimidated you and you think “Was it eating all that raw abalone that has fortified me forever?”
Pangawayo, I said to the guy as I left a second party, the so-called “‘Stache Bash” where mustaches were required and, if necessary, provided.
Chal hae, he said.
Ji Yeon sent me an email with this picture attached, probably as I was crawling in bed after falling on some ice which, thankfully, cured my hiccups. She says her mother sees it every morning, as it was in their bedroom. Though now, “That photograph is being put in the place which opens well in the eye.”