2012/06/03 Su – Torn

This, after all, is a journal.  I’ve noticed one or maybe two topic-specific visitors here, and, while understanding their interest, I’m still sorry to need to disappoint them by diverging from that topic, upon which I have nothing to report.

April passed normally, not at all dream-like, but the memories have now faded like a dream.  I and Myeong-seon spent much of our time idling and dallying, growing accustomed to one another, watching movies, eating her Korean cuisine, taking walks, and the rest.  I was waiting for nothing in the long term, but completing my AST application to secure employ in the short term.  Myeong-seon was waiting from notice from her final attempt at furthering her study here: whether Westminster College some miles away would accept her as a graduate student.  Study as she might, verb forms, specifying articles, and testing itself remained hindrances, and her TOEFL score kept coming out low.  I assume that was the main reason that we failed to persuade WC (as we’d also failed with BYU despite some excellently edited project proposals) to let her in.  At the time, her mother’s health condition was on a low ebb, and she was anxious one way or the other to finalise her plans of travel and longer residence.

The response from Westminster came without surprise, and she soon was on-line buying an airplane ticket, only one-way.  She suggested some dates over the next week or two for my approval; I encouraged the latest one: April 30th.  She made the purchase, and from that moment, we were torn back into two people…

She’d been (nominally) living in Orem, still, whither I’d gone but very few times since graduating.  One of those times was for a second, mock graduation.  BYU had made the weird error of failing to record that I had already gone through a graduation ceremony last August, and I started getting these obnoxious e-mails letting me know that I needed to prepare the costume and so forth (I still had my costume from last time, plus an additional one from LDSBC).  With the second or third e-mail, I considered re-attending graduation just for the novelty of it.  I also realised I would receive another diploma cover freely, which eventually settled the question for me.  On Thursday the 19th, we both bussed to her house.  On Joy’s leave, I slept in the kitchen (her son, Chad, was in the living room).

In the morning, we ate and then walked to BYU.  A woman and her daughter, both older than we, picked us up and gave us a ride to the school; we had looked like we were in a hurry, and seemed to be members as well.  They were former employees of that school; their name may have been Anderson, but I’ve lost it.  On our arrival, we two enjoyed the happy mood on the campus, securing some refreshments from the trinket shop in the Alumni building, taking pictures, and walking around inquiring about how to get a diploma cover without attending the convocation.  Everywhere had plenty of extra diploma covers, but when I finally asked a woman running the WSC venue, I was refused and told to go to my own department’s location (the Marriot Center, again).  I did so between ceremonies, donning cape and hat for their increased convincing power, and one of the stackers there quickly and easily gave me permission for a cover.  At that time and again later, I considered grabbing two covers just to make up for the trouble of having gone to Provo, and because they had so many extra, but I soon satisfied myself that one was all I rightfully deserved for having been wrongfully re-invited to that procession.  After that, Myeong-seon and I splurged on the Cannon Center at walk-in prices.  It was a splendid meal for an enjoyable day.

I stayed another night and went to church with them all on Saturday, mainly in order to lunch with Francis, Harvey, and Kanani again.  The meetings were pleasant too.  I should note that young Chad bruised my left rib-cage with some unwanted wrestling before we went back to Salt Lake, also wounding my esteem for him, but I felt fine within two days.  On that Sunday night, we came again by my mom’s (old) car (she recently bought a smaller one and turned that truck over to Dave, whose original truck they have left in Manila).  We packed M.S.’s stuff and had her goodbyes, and from then on, it was 24/7 between us (16/7, really).

Before long, dear, impressionable Myeong-seon had another idea spring into her head: that we take another road trip–again, on her expense–right before she returned to Korea.  (Actually, she had toyed with the notion once or twice over the previous month or so: going to visit the Grand Canyon.)  As usual, I found it ill-considered, costly, dangerous, and overly touristy; but the other two drives out of state had gone well enough, and after my initial and somewhat stern objections (in the course of my making which, she unexpectedly decided that I had insulted her brother, who’d advised her to go, along with her parents), I no longer resisted the idea.  It was her last week, after all, and I well knew that if she’d had the chance to meet another friend than me, he’d probably have shown her a much better time roving about the state and country, and so on.  Boring Steve, I had only shared my contented, bland, sedentary, and very peaceful home lifestyle without such adventurous excursions.  It left her with a lot of warm domestic memories but with an “empty passport”, so to put it.

So, Grand Canyon it was.  On Monday, we made the plan to leave on Wednesday and come back on Saturday.  Finding no reason not to, we bumped it ahead to Tuesday instead, and made the reservation.  I started feeling depressed about it for some reason — it had just been far too sporadic for me, and I had to sacrifice all my good sense that contradicted these wild schemes for her sake — her wallet’s sake.  She sensed my resigned displeasure, and early on Tuesday morning, she suggested that we cancel the whole thing if it was going to spoil my mood; she had no compelling urge to go.  But the fine sleep had dispelled my anxiety, and as the plan was already in motion, I dismissed her worries, got up, and prepared to leave.

We had chosen the same car renter as before, Fox Rental, near the SLC airport (and after the second time, I feel like I would trust them a third time, too — of course, we’d gotten them through a bargain site).  I don’t remember if I ate, but I pocketed a tangerine and made my slow way to my credit union to deposit an abundance of money, then down-town and to the 550 bus; and soon, there I was, back at that happy airport.  I’d brought my Old English book to keep myself company (after years of rebuilding, our new, cushy East Mill Creek library had finally opened during that couple of weeks, and Myeong-seon and I both immediately fell in love with the place, though she only had time for one or two visits; anyway, I had the great luck of finding Old English from the Teach Yourself series).

There was a slight hic-cough with the rental down at Fox: my account had not undergone its twice-daily automatic updates, so I had to request it in person.  This added at least half of an hour to my pick-up.  Also, the staff was slight (a nice Somalian named “Adib”[?] helped me), and one guy was having issues about needing his car back after having just dropped it off (Fox finally complied).  As for my payment, there was some form I had to sign about ensuring that I had a return ticket from this airport or something, because I wasn’t using a major credit card.  In general, though, it was an infinitely better visit than the last time, and soon I drove off in a quite nice Nissan Sentra, white; another “upgrade” from our reservation car.

We packed somewhat lighter and quicklier this time than for Seattle.  M.S. wanted to take charge of the food.  We had Korean left-overs to bring, but omitted so many fruits as last time; all in all, I would have wanted a little more to snack on, though she outdid herself with 2 big kimchi jars full of water, plus extra.  (Even with more limited supplies, we were still unable to deplete them all, having rationed ourselves too well.)  My mistake was to not bring my camera battery charger, since we did come across a usable power outlet at one point.  Having spent an hour at home gearing up, we left precisely at one, about an hour behind our first schedule, zooming off toward the south.

Unlike last time, we spotted the left turn at Spanish Fork for Route 6 at Spanish Fork, and enjoyed the series of nearly identical small towns down that way: Mount Pleasant, where I’d visited my grandparents several times after they moved there; Ephraim, where my mom had spent her high school years…  We drove past the Manti Temple without stopping, since the view was fine enough from the road.

We talked, laughed, rested, took pictures, talked more, and sometimes bickered over small things.  Contrary to the California drive with deafening Juan and his worldly ways with the radio, we abstained from music.  Down we drove as the landscape mutated, through Gunnison, Salina, Panguitch, and Kanab, where we saw the sandstone used for light poles.  From there we west east, crossing the dam as dusk came.  Soon we were in Page.  It being our first night, we were eager to press on into the dark hours, down through the Navajo land whose empty beauty we couldn’t see till the way back.  At the city of Cameron, we turned back west, finally surrendering the day at about 10:30 as we came off the road into a little bowl-shaped area offering a hint of privacy.

We slept well in our reclined seats, but quarrelled again in the morning, and I committed my second big mistake of not evacuating my bowels at that site (necessitating an uncomfortable road stop soon after).  We weren’t exactly clear on where we were going.  I’d looked at Google and gotten into my mind that we were going to the ‘Village’ place on the south rim, but our only map was one scrawled on scrap paper — this time only a skeleton of the road itself; mostly just town and road names, falling in certain directions at turns.  Shanna had given us a sort of topographical map she’d found at random a short time before our trip, and while offering a degree of comfort, it was tricky to interpret precisely.

After a view canyon overlooks, we entered a certain national park area, hesitating at the price sign for a minute or two before approaching the booth.  The woman laughed at us for having spent all that time when, lucky for us, it was free that week for ‘Earth Week’.  I think it would have been 25 dollars.  On we drove, stopping a bit to check out the desert landscape before reaching a parking area with a visitor’s centre.  There was a weird old fort built there on the edge as a viewing site.  The place was crowded with Europeans, Australians, and a few Asians, but the view was quite fulfilling and certainly “grand”.  We considered finding a hiking trail from there, but I gave up quickly on it, not wanting to spend the whole day there.

Still equipped with only a hazy sense of direction, we drove further westward for maybe ten minutes.  We entered a lovely forest of sparse, tall trees, and soon I felt lost, wondering if the last place had actually been the Village venue.  We turned around and came back, after which I started to feel tired of the place, not wanting to spend the rest of our gas and daylight circling around south of the Grand Canyon.  It turns out that visitor’s centre was named ‘Desert View’ or something, and a bit of perseverance would have soon carried us to the even cooler Village site.  And by trip’s end, we found ourselves so many hours ahead of schedule that I regretted having left Arizona so quickly; we decided to make a better go of it on our next visit.

But leave we did.  Better appreciating the Na-Dene simplicity in the daylight, we retraced the inbound route until 89A left 89.  We passed ‘Navajo Bridge’ and a weird little place with a sign reading ‘Canyon Dwellers’, stopping at both for pictures.  At the latter, we spotted our first and only lizard and snake of the trip, and gathered some stones for potential tumbling.  We passed Jacob Lake, close to the North Rim entrance route (closed anyway till later in summer).  Back down past Kanab again, we stopped for a cave picture and happened to meet three happy mainland Chinese guys here for a Las Vegas conference; we toyed with the idea of going back to Kanab with them for lunch.  I wrote their names somewhere…  Their English was fair.

Somewhere around there, we stopped for sand…  There was a dunes site, but we saw no dunes.  We had fun speeding over the roller-coaster road, though (maybe the dunes were beneath us).  At some point, we went left toward Zion National Park.  Just inside the park was a place called Zion Mountain Resort which had a lovely feeling to it.  We stopped there for dinner, ordering fries with some kind of buffalo-meatball pasta, which tasted quite average.

Myeong-Seon has this crazy thing about wanting to stay in hotels during the night while travelling — access to running water, or something.  Me, I’m fine in the car with the cash.  This was all on her dollar, though, so, after my minor objection, we negotiated with the place over prices for their smaller and larger room, which we also toured.  They were beautiful and clean.  Outside the first, we stopped for pictures of a deer herd, but these motorcycles behind me pressured me to yield the driveway, which spooked those deer toward the road.  Some time later, an SUV-ful of French tourists with a dented front corner stopped to complain about having just hit a deer on the road, maiming but not killing it…  The office said they were forbidden by law to go finish off the animal, but asked their groundsman to go see if he could do anything.  (Later, after touring the second room, and with daylight going, I took a minute to drive back up the road to try to spot the beast, but found nothing.)  We couldn’t come to an agreement over prices, thankfully, so after Myeong-Seon camped out in the restroom for ten or twenty minutes, we drove off into the night.

The park entrance sign showed a similar fee as the Grand Canyon had, but the booth was abandoned in the darkness.  Probably the same ‘Earth Week’ business anyway, we thought as we carefully bypassed it.  The incipient wonders of the canyon were lost on us as we swung down the curved road and through two tunnels, with only our headlamps for light.  We got tired and stopped here and there on the road, but found the occasional passing cars far too intrusive.  At one place after the second tunnel, I got out and heard this bizarre breathing noise coming from the canyon.  Myeong-Seon and I argued for a while about it, since she had heard an “airplane”, which was clearly not the case.  I’d wondered if it were some crazy, hidden murderer before ultimately deciding on crickets.  We left, anyway, and found another visitor’s centre just down the road from there, which was perfectly empty when we arrived and had only a few other cars in the morning.

The visitor’s center was pleasant enough at sunrise that we spent the entire Thursday morning parked there.  We quickly realised that we were squashing caterpillars with nearly every footstep in the parking lot, who were migrating en masse in every direction.  I saw their large, webby nests hanging up in the surrounding trees, as if some giant spiders had dangled their ensnared birds and bats from the branches.  Scores of tourists came and went throughout the morning, and I only saw two of them pay any attention to the caterpillar hordes.  By the time we left, and despite my cautious and conspicuous prancing around them all morning, most of them had merged with the sand-coloured road base, and some oblivious gardnerer was gobbling up the rest on the lawn with his riding mower.  I guess they were baby Monarchs.

Now, we took a shuttle up from the parking lot at one point and passed maybe 8 stops up the canyon as a recorded tour played.  We decided on only one hike: the Emerald Pools, starting from the stop above it (the trail connected two shuttle stops).  The path edged the cliff face, slowly ascending as it rounded into a sort of cove, where a waterfall created a series of ponds.  We went past the second to the top one, then down through again to the bottom one, reaching it right as our camera batteries ran out (mine had been low and dormant for a while already).  The bottom, of course, was the most spectacular of the three, with another small waterfall coming over the rock outcrop above the trail.  The wind caught the thing and it soaked us at one point.  Near the bottom, a tame squirrel came right up and bravely begged until seeing that we had nothing.

Back at the centre, we plugged in M.S.’ battery as we watched the orientation movie, then sat it on the scheduled ranger’s presentation (with a new daily topic) to learn about the pioneers’ plateau-top logging venture up the canyon, fulfilling Brigham Young’s prophecy that timber would fly like eagles from the clifftop.  After refilling our water, studying the maps there, doing our best to ignore the two busloads of Koreans and one of Chinese, and eating lunch, we took to the road again.

We trailed one of the Korean busses till La Verkin, but we were ahead of time, and after one inquisitive remark from Myeong-Seon about Saint George, we turned south for a visit.  We knew nothing about the city except that a school was there, Dixie State.  A sign appeared pointing toward Brigham Young’s Winter Home, so we found the place and took a tour with a senior missionary, Elder Richards.  It was very interesting, and he let me took a free German Book of Mormon, which I thought might be fun to compare with my Old English book.

We got a map there that directed us past the “Potato Saint George” Tabernacle, and then the temple.  The roses at that temple gate had a powerfully sweet aroma, and the grounds and building in general were very pretty.  We spent some time in the first and second visitor centres; a French sister gave us something of a tour.  Myeong-Seon finally started getting very annoyed with the place — I’m not sure if it was the religion or all my chattering with that sister.  As we left and drove toward DSU, I made the innocuous she suddenly erupted, shouting that I’d wasted time and not cared about where she wanted to visit (DSU, since we knew nowhere else…).  At DSU, however, she lost all interest and wanted to leave the town.  She apologised later.  It was a very nice visit on the whole.

On the way back up, we passed lovely Cedar City and those places.  It was pretty straightforward till we spotted a sign to Delta.  This caused M.S. to remember that she had gone to Delta on a drive with Joy once: an old, abandoned mining town.  It was a long, thin, dust-stormy road out there, on the side of which we saw some long-horn cattle.  Finally turning left and reaching Delta, Myeong-Seon found it unrecognisable.  We headed back Provo-ward and eventually deduced that she had seen “Delta” on the bottom of a sign that was actually directing Joy elsewhere… to the town of Eureka, we discovered later.

It was almost starting to get dark when we made it to Eureka, and was tremendously windy.  I found a cat at one old, haunted-looking place.  Some of the structures had lights on, others didn’t.  Parts of the so-called ghost town looked like they were starting to resurrect, being very much inhabited for whatever economic reason.  It was a nice enough place to live, I guess.  I gave M.S. the wheel on the road down mountain to practice her up for Korea, but I quickly got nervous and took it back, it being a rental car.

We went through Santaquin, and soon were back in beautiful Provo.  M.S. wanted Korean, but Spicy Corea (formerly “Touch of Seoul”) was just about to close when we got out of the car, so we cancelled it.  We stopped by Joy’s house for a minute; her other son was there, along with Chad.  Then the rain started… and, whew.  A stronger rain I’ve never driven in.  It was fun and scary at the same time, sliding back and forth on that windy road.  We managed to not hit anybody and get to Salt Lake intact, by when the rain had dissipated.  I suggested Little Caesar’s, which are new far-between on the east side.  After asking around and checking a phone book, we finally got to the one on 700 East and 2100 South, but they were just mopping up.  We gave up on food and returned home, a whole half-day earlier than we’d planned for.

Strange trouble struck that night when we retired.  She took my nice bed and I took the short couch in the living room.  She prefers that I sleep on longer couches, for the sake of my back, or something.  We were both wasted from fatigue and not fully coherent, so it’s somehow understandable that she suddenly got the curious midnight plan to come force me to give up that couch and take the bed as she went downstairs.  I was already swiftly on my way into slumber, and refused her idea again and again, but she bit into it and never let go, pestering me more and more in my perfectly comfortable half-sleep till I had to start kicking her away, or something.  But on she went, cajoling me, pulling me, rousing me, whining away my sleep.  Whatever craziness had gotten into us, I can’t explain at all.  Nothing I said or mumbled in protest mattered to her; she kept stubbornly insisting that I vacate the couch, and I was so amazed at her sudden misbehaviour that I too refused to give in.  At last, I woke up just long enough to snap at her, tearing her off of me and pushing her away, and, in the process, regrettably punching her in the stomach.  I also yelled some cruelty about how she was acting so inexplicably perversely, so stupidly, and insanely.

After my outburst, which woke us both up, she glared hard at me, her eyes wet but hot like cinders, burning into the middle of my head… and, without a word, turned to gather her things, all her luggage that we’d recently moved from Orem… and then exit the house with the entire load.

I was dense enough, and still horrified enough by her weird night-time attack, that I failed to consider my own horrrific counter-attack.  She walked off somewhere as I kept telling myself to not go after her, but just sleep.  I remembered Tugsuu and her tantrums (all somehow in reaction to a mistake of mine, I can admit), and her sudden departures and impossibly long walks home that I had to chase her down by car to dissuade her from, and I decided to never repeat it with Myeong-Seon, since I was past the point of blaming myself over girls.

That lasted about ten minutes…

…And then it was up and down the roads in the rental car, north and south, and up, down, and around a couple more times.  No sign of her.

During my single trip north, up 2300 East, turning left from 39th, one young idiot with his defective-brained friend made the same turn behind me and then impatiently sped around me at a high speed, with the passenger then reaching out and offering a single digit.  I frowned and shook it off, during which head-shake there was about a millisecond when I considered racing them down and returning the sentiment, and it was during that millisecond that I actually drove right past Myeong-Seon, who had camped out at the new retirement home at about 3700 South.  By the time I got to 33rd, I was convinced she’d just hitch-hiked a ride from some crazy guy who’d kidnapped her, and that I’d see her dead on the news the next morning or something.  If not kidnapped, then picked up by some cop, who would be knocking on my door over domestic abuse, which I still felt innocent of, but which I could understand if she claimed.  Driving back, I somehow missed her a second time; her luggage, coat, hair, and everything were black, though.

Some thirty minutes later, I must’ve managed to fall asleep on that couch again, because I awoke to her coming back in the front door, which I’d left unlocked.  I was fully sober by then, and thankful that she was still alive.  She was still silently fuming.  She asked for a ride to a hotel, which I thought immeasurably safer than her walking the streets.  I gave very little by way of objection, except for a carefully worded phrase and its repetition as we neared the hotel: “You don’t have to leave.”

She made no response.  Parked there outside the Ramada on State Street (Heidi’s old hotel, the first of them, and the only hotel I knew in the area), I reminded her of her water bottle, left behind amidst the luggage she’d pulled out of the car.  I cried… and then, wondering why I was crying over an insane woman, I drove off without looking back, giving her to God.

Within a few minutes of arriving at home, our phone rang, from that hotel.  My mind had hardened; I answered that she’d been the one to just cut our thread, not me, and that I wasn’t going to lose any more worry or sleep over her.  I couldn’t help her any more, I told her.  Don’t call again.  I hung up…

What a stupid answer… to my friend…

I sat back on that same short couch and thought over it, quickly deciding that if she DID call again, I would forgive her and go pick her up.

I waited for it.

Thirty minutes passed, and I had fallen asleep again, by the time she called back.

Another half-hour later, she was there in the living room again, courtesy of a cab driver and twenty wasted dollars.  She asked if she could leave her bags in the garage, then went back to sleep on my bed.

My parents had returned from a Manila trip, I believe, on Thursday.  The next morning, Friday, my mom decided to help me drop the car back off at Fox, following me there in her car.  On the way back, and for some minutes in our driveway, we consulted about the still incomprehensible events of the night before, how I’d lashed out and hit my friend.  I was terrified that she’d never forgive me, and worse, that I’d become the same stupid kind of person for which they build shelters for battered women.  I’m no crusader for women’s rights, and I openly confess that I think women can hurt as much with their words as any man can with his hands.  But it was a disgusting feeling anyway, since I’ve always thought myself so harmless.  I gave up resorting to force decades ago… though there was that time, those two times with Shanna, who had temporarily gone mental… and I also sparred with Shanna a third time in slightly better humour.  Tugsuu, too, had been feisty one day, and we sparred a little.  But never like this, some sudden assault provoked by, what? –by the overzealous concern of a sleepy friend.  And now, the whole thing was broken by harsh words and promises of finality, the very sort of thing that once frayed and burst my earlier bonds with precious Eunhee and sweet Tugsuu.

My mom, famous in our immediate family lore for not having tolerated abuse, seemed neither condemnatory nor worried.  She told me to see my friend’s side, how she must’ve felt, and must feel now.  Renewed in confidence, I approached M.S. in my room, found her receptive, and fell into tears and apologies about the whole ridiculous thing, there the very night after our marvelous trip among the treasures of the earth, and old and small towns… and there mere days before she vacated the hemisphere, not to return in the near future.  I told her I was waiting for her second call…

She had cooled down by then, and we were fine.  She began to tire of my apologies by the second or third day.  She later rebuked my suggesting of repaying her that $20 (since I didn’t really have it anyway).

In the days after, as I said, we visited the new library, and took a few more sunset walks.  I think we went to her church on Foothill Drive on Saturday, our second time there.  It was o.k..  She also readied her belongings, and we crammed in some library DVDs…  Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, along with another viewing of The Lord of the Rings (we didn’t finish the third one).

On Sunday night, the 29th, we walked up the S-curve and back down through Oakwood, where my aunts and uncles lived.  It’s all familiar to us, now… the whole neighbourhood.

On Monday, off we went to that exciting aerodrome, Salt Lake’s synapse with the world.  It went well; we focused on the trip, not giving way to sadness.  The baggage lady gave us some trouble over seventy dollars in fees that we hadn’t expected from our research on-line.  We called the Singapore Airlines U.S. office, but the cute-sounding lady there wasn’t extremely much help.  Finally, the second time through line, we readied some cash, but the bag lady took the gear with no more mention of price.  M.S. told me she was never charged for it.

We went upstairs and shot off some pictures before M.S. noticed her wallet missing.  I ran back down to that counter…  A large Thai family from in line behind us was standing at the counter and watching me wide-eyed as I came back; I was relieved.  Sure enough, the wallet was sitting right there on the counter top.  Back upstairs, we said whatever we could think to say, then I got more photos of her going through security, and one of her standing beyond some exit-only area with a lady guard there.  She started thinking she’d gotten my camera memory card by mistake, and tried to convince that guard to let her though, or give it to me for her; I kept signally for her to give up, which she finally did.  It was her card after all.

I signalled to her about the time, and that she should hurry and go.  At last, she did.  I was crying again, but not sobbing.  Not yet.  That would come on the drive back.  As I turned to leave, I saw the patriarch of that Thai family watching his family members go through the gates.  By then, I’d remembered “thank you” in Thai, and thanked him about the wallet.

I stopped by the capitol building on my way back (this was in Dave’s truck) to drop off my diploma for apostille, for AST.  I also visited the East Mill Creek library, to where I returned virtually daily for the next four weeks before running out of stuff to check out… mostly language materials, music, and movies, plus some Tolkien books.

We weren’t too sad over the next few days and weeks; we’ve talked quite frequently by Skype.  She just got a teaching job, starting today (Monday, June 4).  She bought a used car recently.

Between late April and mid May, I applied, interviewed, attended a training session, and began working at a new transcription job for Hometech Incorporated, a Seattle company that types insurance claim interview recordings, mostly for car accidents.  It’s funny to hear how people talk… and drive.  But mostly how they talk.  I’m still in training, so I only do one file per day, from 3 to 8 pages long.  It’s not bad.  I’ll do more in July, I guess.  I had some anxiety from my trainer mis-correcting some of my non-mistakes, but I’ve made more genuine mistakes since them, and am over it.

My FBI document for AST finally came back, and I sent it right back to D.C. for authentication.  It will arrive again soon, and then I’ll be ready to send everything to Korea, and, finally, get a teaching visa from San Francisco.

Oh, right.  Kim Hyunjoo started talking to me again on MSN Messenger, early in May.  I mentioned to her something about how rarely she talked… but since then, it’s been somewhat more frequent.  Also, I told her about my going to Korea, and she became a little opener and decenter of a friend.  Even more, after we got switched from Busan to Gyeonggi-do, by Seoul.

My imagination toward her started churning, as expected; but really, before anything, I think I would just want to get to know her better.  A very pretty girl (or so I always thought), she seems to somehow be living in just such a pretty world… a surface world, a world quite meaningless to me.  I’ve thought about her for… what?  Since my very first college semester, just short of 9 years ago.  She gave me some lame compliment on that foolish day in class…

…Yes, girls’ words are powerful.

“You’re cute,” she said.

So here I am like a total pile of manure, decaying out on the prairie, not having moved one inch for nine years, still lying to myself about liking her.

What a sad joke.

She woke me up from it a little when she let on that she had some faith issues; she didn’t pray so much, she said.  And she sometimes talks about shopping.  And she mentioned a concert or event or something once.

Nothing about these things makes me respect her at all.  That’s her personality; that’s fine.  Find a superficial, material guy, and go try to be happy with him.  I don’t care about shopping… events.  I’m not impressed by not praying.  All she is, I sometimes think, is a big contrast with Myeong-Seon.

Oh, speaking of whom, I’ll mention something weird Myeong-Seon said…

Soon after getting home, actually, I left out that she had gotten slightly weird for a brief time and pressured me to come there early, and she’d help me work…  We could start a school, like we’d discussed a bit.

That wasn’t my plan, I’d told her.  Stick to the plan.

She talked about how some people were wanting to introduce her to weird Korean guys… and then made me a kind of cute proposition on the matrimonial subject which she later took a little more seriously than how it was first given.  I turned it down as a joke, and then as a rash and lonely cry for attention that went against what we’d talked about.  She finally got over it, and we’ve been happy since.

But, anyway, later she told me, “I’ll take your boat.”

She repeated it at least once before I caught the reference.  Back in Utah I had occasionally analogised our situation by comparing ourselves to people with our feet planted in two separate boats, floating side by side, which nevertheless were not going to travel in a parallel direction.  Eventually, I said, we would have to step back into our own boats (the boats being symbols of our respective religious identities).  And many other such analogies did I give her.  So it was nice to see that she got this one, anyway.

But it startled me a bit.  On our last talk about it in Utah, I think, I’d even scolded her for suddenly suggesting that she might join the Church.  She knew nothing about it, I told her.  For all her time and observation here, and all my religionising and preaching, and our shared discussions of faith, and common beliefs, she still, I thought, comprehended very little, only the slightest fraction of what (in my view) it meant to be LDS.  If she wanted to join, study first; understand what it meant.  Don’t do it flippantly.  Don’t do it out of romance, or to try to compell romance.  Do it for God, not for Steve.  This had roughly been the manner of my talk; not with such determination, but a clear response, anyway, that religious affiliation wasn’t some automatic solution for us… lest she ever blame me for it on any future day, that I coerced her conscience with affection.

So my reaction this time was similarly mild.  But not long after that, we had a very long talk… well, I had a very long talk with her, mostly… on some various religious subjects, which she concluded by asking why Joseph Smith hadn’t kept the Sabbath (meaning a Saturday sabbath).  If God had told him to, I said, he surely would have, and we all would be.  We’ve already talked at length about the Sabbath…  Then there was another discussion or two on similar themes.

At this point, it seems like the original force of her statement has subsided again.

Anyway, I can be her friend for however long she will be mine…  She’s an outstanding person.  She doesn’t care about shopping for clothes.  She treats people well.  She smiles easily and warmly.  She likes little things.  Being from agriculturally involved parents, her motives seem very simple and good.  She doesn’t lack intelligence.

It’s easy to love her as a sister.


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