I walk into a PC-Bang (er, “Internet Cafe”) and the girl behind the counter looks in shock when I ask for a PC with hangeul installed. She looks at me funny and I tell her I want a PC with “Korean” installed. She still doesn’t quite get why I would ever want that, until I say that I live in Korea, and may get email containing some Hangeul. “I’m Korean, you know! I am surprised…” she says with a curious, amused look.
I wonder, is that how she would have looked at me if it’d been her in the PC-Bang?
A couple pass my parents and me as we walk down the street. My parents have no guess at where they’re from but I can tell from hearing them, 90% sure they’re Cantonese. I realize my parents would meet her and not really know the difference between Cantonese and Korean.
I wonder how they would get along. I think she and they would laugh for hours if they met, once they all stopped being shy.
I walk out into the trees, out to the edge of the farmer’s field and into the dark; the pounding beat of the dance music at my sister’s wedding reception fading into the quiet behind me, and I can see the heavens blooming with stars, full to spilling with them, and think of how I can only see two stars in the sky when she and I are walking together, and how I always say, “I can see three stars tonight!”
I wonder why it is that I feel as if, reaching out, my arms would go around her somehow, and I say softly, “I can see all the stars tonight… except one.”
The tip of the pen touches down against the paper and then, word by word by word I write as best I can in Korean. Nothing I can say is anything I’ve not said before, I think, but I know she will read the paper and probably see the deeper things, hints of what I really want to say and just can’t quite express.
I wonder what it is that I have written that will make her smile widest, or laugh loudest. I write until I am ready to sleep, and imagine the letter crossing the ocean and touching her hands, the same letter I touched as I wrote it. The thought makes it feel as if some of that space between is is negated, secretly, in some way we can feel even if we cannot see it.
I lift the cup coffee to my lips. This is Toronto, so I don’t know if she ever sat in this place; in Montreal, I will feel more certainty. But standing in this place, it feels like at least briefly touching her past. I am surprised to learn she lived on the same block I did on Hutchison in Montreal; that we drank coffee in the same places, though a few years apart.
I wonder if our paths would have crossed if I’d stayed in Montreal. I think of how our paths did cross, and smile to myself, inhaling the scent of the coffee; the steam wafts along its secret paths, whispering the sweet scent of the coffee into my mind.
And I wonder what she is doing at this moment.