Monday, February 14, 2011

Cold Snow, Warm Heart

Yesterday morning, I woke to find pohang had been hit with it's second snow storm of the year, rendering the city, once again, immobile. I was ok with it, despite the implication that a cancelled school day means a working Saturday make up class (for Moon Kkang, anyway). It gave me a chance to hole up inside my cozy apartment, wash my dishes, grade my school books, catch up on some emails, and read. You see, I've been in a whirlwind the last few weeks, largely due to this new development: Allow me to back track. So I had a party at the end of January, and it rocked. It was the first I've had since I came here, and it really was a long time coming--I was craving it, like mad. I just can't get enough of people as a rule, and large gatherings of everyone I've ever known are kind of a habit I inherited from my family. When your parents have extended families of more than 30 people each, and you grew up with your youth minister mom throwing blow out (wholesome) teenager parties and retreats, it just gets into your blood, I guess.

You know that feeling a good gathering of people can bring? The feeling where everyone is getting pleasantly buzzed (I don't mean only on alcohol), and new friendships are forming, and the lights are soft and warm, and the music is good, but the conversation is steady and humming enough that you can barely hear the music? It was that kind of good. People started showing up at 7, and then continued in a steady stream until my little apartment was just perfectly bulging with people, but not overflowing. Everyone brought food and drinks to share, and I made my family's potato cheddar dill soup--a tripple batch--and by the end of the night, it was gone! We ate, we drank, we chatted. Some people who came really surprised me by showing up at all, but everyone who made it was awesome.

Around 11pm or so was probably when the number of guest was at its peak, and I believe it was at that point that one Korean friend (Solomon) showed up with another friend in tow. He introduced me to Hoopie (korean name gun-hoo); a bespectacled, fit, handsome 28-year-old in skinny jeans, a hoodie, and a commie hat. When I first met him, I thought he was a foreigner though he looked korean, because he spoke with British English that was fairly polished--articles intact and all. His smile was shy but warm, his eyes were genuine, and our conversation was easy. I remember thinking how kind he was, and how cute he was, and I remember looking forward to further chats through the evening as I stepped away to greet more entering guests. I remember he said to me "you're like a doctor giving out medicine--I feel comfortable and easy when I'm talking to you." I thought he was just being cute (and a little cheesy) because we had been talking about my psych degree, but he wasn't. He was sincere.

The party progressed in a delightful fashion, with a good balance of varied characters coming and going. It was great to see friends mixing in the way I love, and through the evening, I began to feel validated in some of the friendships that previously had only been casual aquaintances. Later, Hoopie and I chatted again in my (opened) bedroom, a few other people wandering in and out, and we swapped a little music on my guitar. He's incredible, but it's long since the time when I would so easily swoon over a decent musician. What struck me was his humility and openess. He wasn't playing for show. He was playing (and asked me to play) to share something with me. I was warmed doing just that with an opened human being. It felt really nice.

Around 4 or 5 am, most of my guests departed, save Hoopie, his friend Solomon, and my other awesome/newish friend, Grant. This part of the evening (or morning) was probably the most memorable. We four stood on my porch drinking wine, as they smoked their cigarettes, and we later came inside and played a few rounds of cards which were more a backdrop to our conversation and easy manner than anything else. We went back on the porch for another round of their smokes after an hour or so, and I was really aware in my heart of the genuinely awesome time we were all having together. As time slipped by unnoticed, it felt real, natural, easy. It felt pretty rare. We laughed as we talked about all kinds of things.

Around 6am, Grant said he needed to go, and Solomon had promised him a ride home, and so they left, with Solomon to return shortly. I remember feeling good about the prospect of getting Hoopie alone, but I don't really know what I was hoping for. I remember I was really curious about him. I really wanted to know what he was about, and I wanted to see how we would do without the distraction of other people around.

As it had been with him all night, our conversation was easy, comfortable, and genuine. I really don't remember what we talked about--neither does he. We were seated on my couch, and I remember a subtle undercurrent of electricity stemming from where my folded knee was touching his thigh. I remember feeling calm. I remember feeling just... good. I remember wanting him to kiss me. But not wanting him to kiss me. I remember a pause in conversation that was not uncomfortable but somewhat pregnant. And just as I was eager to get more of him, Solomon returned. They left together after a few more minutes, and I was happy to have made a new connection. It was now close to 7am, and I promptly went to bed, planning to deal with dishes and cleanup in the morning.

Time is marching on, and as my late grandmother used to say, "it never slows down!" It seems that with each incredible thing that reveals itself in life, I am made aware that my own experience is only scratching the surface of the infinite possiblitiy of the universe. That sounds abstract and somewhat crazy even, but I mean it. There is so much life to be lived, so many things to feel, so much to make you burst at your seams and wonder out loud, "What the hell is happening?!" Nothing really incredible is ever expected, either. You can attempt to plan "mountaintop" experiences, and maybe even come pretty close to them by trying... but I think the most awe-inspiring ones come out of nowhere, often when you aren't ready for them, and land right in your lap. I only hope that my heart and mind and eyes are always opened enough to see them.

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