Tuesday, February 07, 2017

That Old Korean Feeling

"Do you like Korean food?"

This is a question I ask to the date for the evening to gauge an interest in all things kimchi.

"Yes."

That was really all the excuse I needed to make the plan for the evening Korean food. The last time I had Korean was in New York, a co-worker and a friend on separate occasion.

"I should warn you, you are going to have to put up with me ordering in Korean. And it makes my accent worse. And my Korean identity is a little cocky."

All these things are true. I can't help it. I miss Korea now and then. A passing, fleeting feeling of longing for simpler times and Oeegalbi and kaynib and kimchi. But more than that, a need for the people, the flowing mass of Koreans always being Korean. Being an outsider and feeling justified in being an outsider because I'll never really fit in. The ease with which you can just be yourself because the expectations of the rest of the culture around you will never be met, but always be somehow, beautifully violated by your mere presence.

The ease of Korea and swimming on an ocean of just missing something that is not Korea. Being American before it hurt to be an American the way it does right now.

And just being.

The hajumas brought us a flowing amount of panchon which I introduced like a good Korean girl to my date. Most of the waitstaff was happy to talk to me in Korean, and I was happy to talk to them back. They told me my Korean was good.

They joked that the hajuma was an agashi.

I said "No, oni." And we laughed and I slipped my hand around her waste for a moment and we laughed and I remember slipping my hands into the arms of Korean girls as we walked down the street. The casual friendships, the mindless talking about things that didn't really matter. A passion for living because that is what you do.

The company was perfect.

The food was excellent.

The emotions were strong.


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