First, the little prompt: What made you say it? Tell a story (maybe of the first time it happened, maybe not) about a time you said 'I love you' to someone who wasn't a member of your family. Or write about someone you wish you'd said (or never said) 'I love you' to.
And now, without further ado, someone I still love with all my heart, but kind of wish I had never told anyone about. One day you wake up, all tangled up in love, with no way to get out of it. I hope it never happens to you.
Wandering through the streets surrounding Korea University in Seoul, having had more than my share of cheap yellow beer, I turn to my friend Achilles (yup, that's seriously his real name) and blurt out, "I just love him so much!! I totally want him to be mine!" To this day, I still remember the look he gave me.
"You're a moron."
"I knoooow, but I can't heeeeelp it!!!!"
I looked directly at the object of my affection and silently mouthed the words "I looooove you" before Achilles drug me away, shaking his head in a combination of disbelief and disgust.
We proceeded to meet up with my then boyfriend Seung Hyun, and the three of us made it our mission to get stupid drunk, obnoxiously loud, and eat our own weight in fried chicken (not necessarily in that order). For some reason I remember Achilles and I trying to explain the ridiculousness of American wedding receptions to Seung Hyun, but I doubt he got much of a cultural lesson from us since I think we mostly yelled things like, "ELECTRIC SLIDE!!!" and then spent the next 5 minutes convulsing with laughter and giving each other high fives while poor Seung Hyun sat quietly with a puzzled look on his face.
Other than that, all I remember is the awful, awful hangover I woke up with the next morning around 7 a.m. You've all been there before, I know you have...the terrible, throbbing headache, that awful watery mouth/I'm about to puke feeling, the spinning room, and the unmistakeable knowledge that there was definitely someone unfamiliar in my bed with me.
Now, maybe some of you mofos are used to waking up with zero short term memory and some unknown weirdo in your bed with you (Brownie, I'm talking to you here) and that's totally fine, I'm certainly not one to judge, but it definitely ain't my style and I had NO IDEA what my next move should be. I pieced together what I could remember of the end of the night...taxi to my street in Yaksu...said goodbye to Seung Hyun at the bottom of the enormous hill my building was on, staggered up the hill...puked my guts out on the side of my building (What?!? I never claimed to be fucking classy!). From the time I had said goodbye to Seung Hyun I was alone, it couldn't have taken me more than 10 minutes to get up the hill, maybe another 5 to add a splash of color to the far wall of the place, so who the fuck was in my bed with me???? By now I had worked myself into quite an uproar, and really had no idea how I was going to get myself out of this one.
So without even turning my head to see who was hogging the blankets I totally panicked, screamed, fell out of my bed, knocked over my entire nightstand and all the contents on/in it, and generally caused an enormous racket. Yup, I'm smooth like that.
I had caused enough of a commotion to wake the dead, and there was nothing from the other side of the bed...no movement, no noise, nothing. Hmmm...odd. Finally, I picked my head up (a feat in itself considering the enormous hangover I was suffering with) and saw......
HAHAHAHA!!! I went home with Jack the Pumpkin King!!!! I had totally forgotten that at some point during the night Seung Hyun had not so subtlely walked off, and when he returned 20 minutes later he had a huge giftwrapped package for me. It was a huge Jack doll, the same one I had fallen madly in love with and expressed my undying love to just a few hours ago! I must have been excited when I got home and unwrapped him, because I had him all tucked in safely with his head on my pillow and the blankets up to his chin. HAHA!
Jack stayed by my side throughout many of my adventures in Korea. We watched countless hours of bootleg movies and outdated celebrity gossip together, we took naps and nursed hangovers, he waited patiently for me to come home while I worked or went out, and he let me cry on his shoulder when I was homesick or PMSing or just felt like crying for any old reason. When my blood cells plummeted and I had to decipher scary words like "relapse" and "chemotherapy" and "tumor" in a language and culture I didn't fully understand, he was the only one there when I said the awful truth aloud for the first time. I'm not proud to admit it, but he took quite a beating more than a few times as I frustratingly made my way through doctors who still believed in fan death, translators who didn't speak English, and a boss who said God was punishing me and this never would have happened if I had gotten married. Aside from the few times he became my punching bag, we never fought, because he had perfected the awesome skill of knowing how to keep his big mouth shut!! It was the best relationship of my life.
And then one day, I woke up feeling stuck. It was time for me to leave Korea, time for me to move on, time for me to maybe start listening to what other people had to say. But I had pledged my undying love to him that night on the street corner, and probably on several occasions since then. I couldn't just discard him! His big, nonblinking eyes would haunt me forever! What could I do?!? He had totally been there for me, and now that he was becoming a bit of an inconvenience I was looking to take the easy way out and just dump him. Is that the kind of person I wanted to be? Someone who ran from relationships/responsibilities the second they got a little complicated? I mean, I still loved him, I just couldn't deal with him anymore! I needed space - literally!!! - I had a ton of shit to haul back to the states and only a backpack and medium sized suitcase to get the job done! Sigh.
By now you must be on the edge of your seats, biting your nails, wondering desperately how this story ends. So now that I've made this short story incredibly long, I'll fill you in on the lesson I learned the hard way, in hopes that it will possibly spare you some anguish in the future.
LOVE AIN'T CHEAP!!!
I have spent a bloody fortune mailing that dude from Korea to Pennsylvania, from Pennsylvania to California, and on and on it goes as I get ready to leave California for my next destination, which I already know won't be a permanent destination. What can I say? A commitment is a commitment.
And at least he never complains!