Just caught the last few minutes of a short on the indiefilm channel. It’s a near empty subway train. There’s casual chit chat between strangers. A pretty, insecure girl and a kind, goofy guy. You watch as their connection develops. And then it’s time to get off the train. They try to extend the conversation, but it’s awkward. The girl gets in a taxi. The guy yells for/gets another taxi. Dinah Washington’s Our Love is Here to Stay is playing.
These are the kinds of moments a Korean-looking foreigner can never have in Korea. Casual chit-chat without intention that just develops into something more.
Our Love is Here to Stay reminds me of the wonderful Cuban devil talking about how the perfect love was the crush that never became a reality. Here, there are a thousand fantasy loves that must be nipped in the bud, because one person is too small to bear so many perfect loves.
It makes me wonder. It makes me wonder if there is an I Saw You column here in a weekly alternative magazine, like there was in Seattle.
I will never know.
Today it was payday and I saw one of the two other female foreigners I’ve spotted before and never been able to talk to. One is a pretty young African American woman and another appears to be a mid 30’s aquiline woman who looks very British, Australian, or Africaner.
The African American woman was finishing up a cell phone conversation prior to hitting the ATM. So I waited until she was finished talking and caught her before she put her card in the machine. I explained how it was obvious she was a foreigner, but maybe not so obvious I was a foreigner, and how I’d seen her in passing before but was unable to stop and introduce myself.
Turns out she lives in Citi Bil Apartments, just two buildings away. So we exchanged numbers. It’s nothing short of a miracle: There’s another female foreigner who speaks my language two minutes outside my door. Just knowing she’s on my phone is a comfort, even if we never connect again.
Today my phone rang and it was a number I didn’t recognize, so I didn’t answer it as I never answer unknown numbers. (Korea is full of phone spammers) A minute later there was a text. “Is this Leanne?” I asked who it was, and it turned out to be a student from my last school. She’d seen me in Nine Stone’s book of poetry and was reminded of me. “I miss you!” she said. (Koreans use this phrase a lot – it means more like, “I was thinking of you.” It’s one of those mis-used expressions that are really too precious to correct) I was really surprised she still had my number.
Today I texted one of my former students to wish him well on the National College Entrance Exam tomorrow. He said he was nervous. I told him he was going to do great. In the past he has told me, “I miss you.” He told me I had the most warm, kind face he had ever met. How can you not keep in touch with sentiments like that?
Some women I saw on youtube have agreed to come to Korea and speak for TRACK. Just goes to show, when you see something that really moves you, you should take the time to contact the author and let them know you were paying attention.
Jane and I have our groove back. We feed off each other’s big thinking. Making things happen is what sets us apart. It’s much better than when we tackle words on virtual paper alone at our screens.