2011/07/20 W – Seeker

It’s 22:50 as I type.  I just got home.

Today, as has usually happened for the past month or longer, I awoke quite late, then spent an enjoyable couple of hours checking the political news spammed to my electronic mail in-box.  Eventually, I’ll try to mention politics again here.  By good fortune, my sister chose to bring me some food.  (I had atypically slept downstairs on the couch last night.)

Today, I remembered having seen on-line that our Salt Lake County “Food Handler’s Permit” classes were held on Wednesdays at a place not far from my house (the “Granite Peaks Learning Centre”, at about 500 East, 3900 South).  These permits are requisite for any food-service job in Utah; scilicet, restaurants.  As I had earlier intentioned to obtain some temporary work at a nearby restaurant, I made ready and, at about 17:30, left by bicycle down to that centre (which seems in fact to function as a secondary school, which it once was before remodelling and a strange name-change).

After paying fifteen dollars and registering, I sat through a class from about 18:00 to 19:30, which reminded us to quit being so disgusting as to cough and sneeze and spit and vomit and excrete all over people’s food when we worked in restaurants — to wash our hands frequently, and also to not cross-contaminate things, and to keep food between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, only for four hours or less, or six while cooling.  This was my second time getting this permit, my first in several years.  After the class, we were made to take a 20-question multiple-choice test.  Most questions were commonly sensical; a few that hadn’t been directly answered in the class I had to deduce.  I was lucky to get them all right, and not need five minutes of remedial explanation after class.

I biked home, up that Highland Drive hill, and dropped off my note hand-out from class before refreshing myself and setting out again to visit the particular restaurant at which I’d chosen to apply, the Pizza Hut over on 33rd South.

The girl there nicely assured me that the place would be fully staffed for the foreseeable future.

Not having a back-up plan (except for going back to the Arby’s very near my home, which I didn’t want to do quite yet, because it doesn’t feel like casual enough of a place), I wandered past a few other shops before deciding to go visit my friends at Hunan Garden Restaurant again.

It was a longer trip than I remember it being, even on bike.  I’d driven there with Myeong-Seon a couple weeks ago, but I often walked or ran there back when I was an employee.  Once arrived, I met the same two young men I’d met with Myeong-Seon: Su Li (?), from Henan, and Wei Wei, the son of Sun Li, the wife of the owner, David Yang.  Like his mother, he was from Anhui.  I used to work beside his two sisters, both of whom are married now.  He’s 25 now, I think; he studies aviation mechanics at the community college.  David was again absent from the store, though I saw the “auntie” there I’d once known, and thought I overheard Mr. Jeung in the kitchen.

Su Li left, and I talked with Wei Wei for some time.  He encouraged me to be an English-teacher in China.  I dared not risk hurting him by admitting my ever-deepening abhorrence of the Chinese government, and agreed to consider the idea.  These days, I’ve gotten better at treating Chinese individuals well (and even creditting their language) despite their collective political sins.

They sold me some half-priced fried rice ($4), and Sun Li threw in some egg-drop soup.  I ate the second and carried the first with me.

I went west from there (21st South and East) down to the Sugarhouse Mall, having been referred by Wei to a new restaurant there that, actually, proved to still be in its pre-construction stage.  (Hm; it’s 2:10 a.m. now; I slept a little.)  At “Maggie Moo’s”,  I got a free sample of some kind of ice cream (there had been larger free stuff slightly earlier in the day which I missed out on, since this was the store’s anniversary).  I met “Rick”, “Heather H”, and “Santiago”, young people who worked there.  I had a fairly nice talk with Heather about her work history.

On the way home, I passed a certain Nepali restaurant (on Highland Drive), freshly closed.  As I read its posted menu, a young man, “Bindu”, came out and started talking with me.  Actually hailing from Bhutan, he had worked there for most of its 17-month history.  He had a son that was nearly a year old.  He let me in to see some of the decorations and maps there.  Another man came over, “Bobby” or “Babi”, to see whom I was.  Soon, I left, pedalling my way back up 3300 South and to home-ward.

I’ve slept a bit more, and now it’s 3:00.  I’ll edit it my recent news tomorrow.

7/21 Th

Back on the ninth (Saturday), Myeong-Seon came and ate with us for Shane’s birthday, at the Thai place down by Ocean City by the old Cottonwood Mall.  After we parted at the train stop that night, I got the rare and unwelcome feeling that I was starting to miss her terribly, and I cried a little on my way back.

The sad reaction returned a few days later, as we fraternised and separated again early in the week.  On Thursday the 14th, my parents had me invite her back to their house in Manila, Utah.  She arrived here on Friday morning, and we set out, joined this time by Dave’s parents.

I was somewhat fatigued for the whole trip, as has become usual for me in my sloth, undernourishment, and/or mysteriously sapping health.  On Saturday evening, we attended the town rodeo there, which was somehow interesting.  We saw calf- and team roping, barrel-racing, and bull- and horse-riding.  (Two days ago, I came across a ridiculous article in the deluded LA Times about some Chinese — always brainwashed one way or the other — having learned from their neo-pagan American counterparts how to criticise a rodeo being hosted there on grounds of “cruelty”.)

We returned on Sunday.  Myeong-Seon joined me for church.  I recall her coming the previous week, too, so she must’ve been here on the 10th.  This time, I accompanied her back to Provo, deciding to find a place to sleep out that night.  We made a bit of a lawn camp of it, on the field west of the ELC, next to the wall over at the corner by Crown Burger or Supreme Burger, or whatever it is.  The lawn declines several feet to meet that low wall, creating a small sort of ravine partially hidden from view (my concern was being driven out by some groundskeeper or BYU guard, if not the sprinklers; neither happened).  It was mosquito-ridden, but I was covered enough to only get bitten in about ten places on my hands.  She seemed to have less of a problem, as if her kimchi repelled them.

On Monday, I think we finished up my Korean mini-series, 그바보, except for the last two episodes.

Oh, I remember.  We must have finished it till that point the week before, and on Monday the 18th, we planned to watch the final two.  Sadly, something was wrong with the KBS web-site; the 15th epidode (out of 16) didn’t link properly and was inaccessible.  We tried to watch it via alternate methods (a pay site) but were then obstructed by an installation failure with the payment plug-in tool.  We still have the option of borrowing a Korean phone and paying by it, I think.  I wrote a message to KBS, which a representative politely answered a day or so later, but I guess they didn’t check the link, as I had hoped.  They determined that our Windows Media Player was the culprit, suggesting a few option-switches.  I tried them here on my own computer and soon realised, again, that it was rather an error with the content on the site, since the other ones still opened properly in the site viewer.

16 works fine, but I won’t skip 15 for it.  We’ll try something else later.

Anyway, having felt so strangely sad over her, I’d talked with her early last week, and we stayed up very late on both nights at Manila talking, both inside and out under the stars.  The Friday night was the more difficult, as I collapsed into a heap of soggy garbage over the situation before recomposing myself.  After that, I felt pretty fine in my conclusion that we were still impossible for each other, due above all to questions of faith (though after separating from her for a few days, I always start to remember that we have a genuine social disconnection compounded upon our religious barrier).  Still, it is seeming to become a little painful of a relationship, and I repeatedly exhorted her to not hurt herself over me, which she unfortunately has done almost from the beginning…

Some week ago or something, though, she commented on-line to me for the first time that I wasn’t good enough for her, or something… wasn’t right for her…  It was disconcerting hearing it from her instead of me, and I thought that I was finally beginning to lose her interest…

Over these few weeks of sadness, I’ve tried harder to treat her a little more politely, recognising that our time together might be reaching a climax, in one way or, more probably, the other.

Even now, it hurts me to think of losing her, when she leaves next month.

I had a friend at BYU, once… Stetson.  We weren’t especially close, to be honest, and I shared good relations with numerous others, including room-mates…

But for close friendships, I had only Myeong-Seon, my study-buddy.

She left me back in December.  I was a little relieved at the time, maybe, because she’d become such a romantic pressure…

This time, though, it feels a lot more permanent.

Firstly, she’s probably going back to Korea after her semester in California.  That’s a serious distance… at least till I go there later…

Worsely, though, she’s going to California to study Bible at a seminary of her denomination.

I feel like the window for her to reconsider her youthful doctrinal persuasion is closing… and after this, she will solidify as a faithful, middle-aged, Korean SDA member.

I think I’ve taken every step necessary to avoid emotionally bullying her over her religious views… while at the same time, I’ve been fairly vigorous in my debates.  Some of it was wasted effort, I found out recently: her current room-mate, Bethany, a Finnish-teacher at the MTC, had religionised a little with her.  Later, at my house, she started complaining that she thought prophets needed to be Biblically prophetic — that is, sign-bearing, or miraculous, or divinely endowed.  Even accepting Joseph Smith, she didn’t think his successors were as much prophetic as they were administrative place-holders.

I’ve discussed the salient issues of LDS prophecy with her before, last year, so I see that it must have not been entirely clear to her at the time.  Anyway, I countered with Biblical examples of the same unspectacular administrative role of prophets, mentioned the primacy of priesthood ordination and the necessity of organisational continuity, and encouraged her, in my ineffective way, to feast on the words of the current “presidents” before deciding against their propheticness.

She has unexpectedly taken Bethany’s or somebody’s suggestion to meet with the missionaries; I think she did so on Tuesday evening.  I’m not sure what will come of it, after all my blabbing with her had so little effect (not to infer that I’m the best spokesman of the Church, or that others won’t possibly connect with her better).  Anyway, that seminary study will be a deepening of her convictions as surely as her time at BYU has been an examination of them.  I have always gotten along well with her faith, but her departure will be a knell of finality for whatever slim possibility we had together, in any more permanent way…

Knowing that I have no business or interest in dragging out her singlehood, I have always advised her to try to meet people… and at some point, it will happen.

In Manila, I re-summarised my history to her, as I had done at the beginning of our friendship, at the  ELC.  This time, though, she was included at the end…  I left her the correct impression that I had never quite viewed her as an all-consuming personality in my life, as she apparently has been tempted to do with me.

The talk, actually, was quite interesting.  She helped me formulate the idea that I’ve always had dual strata of romantic interest: the superficial layer consisting of those in my actual company, and the deeper layer comprising mental constructs, idealisations of those I’d decided to “love” permanently.  The layers run parallel to each other, with characters from the first eventually shifting over to the second by osmosis, as soon as there was room for them — that is, as soon as the previous “permanent” occupant finally expired.  The delay in this recalibration of commitment meant that there was always some overlap with people I was connected to; in effect, I had “liked more than one person at the same time”, though, in reality, I’ve only been devoted to one of them at any one time.

And, I concluded with Myeong-Seon that the idealisation I was currently chasing, or the dream, or even the face on the dream, was KHJ, my former classmate now in Korea, though it was an unreal commitment that would likely never see daylight, and would probably evaporate if it ever did.

But Myeong-Seon, for her part, can’t take that place… because it’s not entirely empty yet, and because of our persistent incompatibilities…  Certainly not that I haven’t come to deeply value her and cherish her company.

Well, being torn from her might jolt me from apathy, as it has before; or it might set me free from her, as it seems to do in the near term.

I’ll just try to not worry or injure myself over it.

Just imagining her enormous smile… makes me so sad, though, so easily.  I know I’ll forget her in time, but she was a true rarity… and in some ways, so much better for me than KHJ could ever be.

My mom sensed my sadness on that… Sunday, I guess, the 10th, after I came home.  She wondered in consolation, “Do you have any love in your heart for Myeong-Seon?”  The question hurt, and I couldn’t really answer her for tears, but I had a long talk with her about it later…

If you don’t know, LDS only marry in an LDS temple, where their holy men perform eternal marriages relied upon as bonds that will supersede mortal life.  Marriage-till-death is a false, fleeting imagination for them, an unreal union with practical benefits but no ultimate meaning.  Even so, my barrier of “religion” with Myeong-Seon has been an excuse for me, really.  My deepest anxiety has been that she would join the Church after all, but that I would still find myself unable to accept her as my permanent companion.  This has strengthened me quite a bit in my supposed neutrality to her beliefs — I was never so neutral with Bomie, whom I was enamored with.  I’ve argued before that it was Bomie’s post-baptismal abandonment that turned me so much against the idea of conversion-by-love.

But, really, I’m just not ready for Myeong-Seon.  Something’s still there, occupying that position in my mind, that deep level of commitment…  It’s a phantom, or something.  It can’t honestly be Kim Hyunjoo, as long and as much as I have privately praised her; nor that other stunningly beautiful and approachable girl I once tried to like, Rekha Selvaratnam, who revived somewhat in my memory ever since I found out she had cancelled her marriage engagement to whomever.

It can’t be them, since I don’t know them very well.  We have but the shallowest, weakest bond of half-extinguished friendship.

It can’t be straying Hedy, can it?  I don’t think so…  It wouldn’t be Heidi either.  It wouldn’t be Tugsuu, who is married… nor either of the Ohs.  It couldn’t be Bomie, whom I’ve normalised toward, and whom I no longer feel compatible with.

It wouldn’t be old Sister Lam or any ghost of Hong Kong, I think…

It’s…

…somebody I haven’t met yet.  Somebody in the future, whom I’ve convinced myself I will certainly meet when I go abroad.

It’s some dotted line, or silhouette… some “perfect girl”…

…that I will probably never meet…

…and, meanwhile, that I will sacrifice this Myeong-Seon for.

What a terrible pity… when Myeong-Seon is already so perfect, by nearly every measure.

Well, she remains SDA, and I am LDS.  And, honestly, like Eunhee, she needs somebody above my social status, and without my plans.

I should leave it at that… with those real-world questions.

She will find her answer.

…I’ll pray for her to find it… and she will find it.

It’s not about me.

…I believe she has a brighter day ahead than she has ever seen before…

…My beautiful sister.

Add her to my growing list of beautiful sisters.

-Steve

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