A Bowl of Memory

Yukgaejang, please.” I placed my order and listened to my family place their own selections. It was one of those Sundays at a local Korean restaurant. Yukgaejang (spicy beef soup) was one of the dishes that I would order aside from Jjajjang myeon (black bean noodles). The savory flavor was something that I grew to enjoy and crave on days when I just needed to clear my mind of the many things that bothered me. 

 Today, as I waited for my bowl of spicy beef soup, I thought about how different I was from when I first sat in this restaurant with friends. Years ago, all I knew to order was bulgogi and bibimbap, mostly because they were familiar rice dishes with meat. Today, I was guiding my parents with what they might prefer on the menu. I could even figure out which ones were the sweet dishes and which ones were the spicy ones. 

Food has a way of bringing back memories, and usually good ones. In this case, I was remembering good memories against the backdrop of a different reality. Same restaurant, different association. I suppose that’s how it usually is; you don’t expect things to change so suddenly. Or, at least, with a good meal, you don’t expect to ever leave the people who are sharing it with you at the time. 

When the dark times of my relationship had arrived, I could not accept it. This very same Korean restaurant was my respite. I would order yukgaejang, welcome its spicy flavor as a way of waking me out of my stupor. Sometimes I could not finish it, because I just could not taste it. It was within these walls that I had begun my slow unraveling, my changing, my decision to become a different person. For some reason, the food never changed, but this was a good thing. I needed something constant.

As I recalled those times, I could clearly see my friends who turned out to be nothing more than acquaintances. I still remembered their orders, the food that they disliked, the ones that they always got. 

We don’t talk anymore, and I don’t want to either. But for some reason, their orders are stuck in my memory, as one of those useless pieces of information that resurfaces unexpectedly.

The waitress sets a hot bowl of Yukgaejang before me, and breaks my train of thought. I welcome the meal with fresher senses, with a deeper appreciation for life. This same dish, I now enjoy in a vibrant reality. My family, does not enjoy spicy dishes at all… but try to understand why I like this bowl of soup by tasting it anyway. 

Just like that, I have new memories with this bowl of soup. 

Advertisements

Human

Human beings are light and darkness

they are mundane and sublime

they can do good or evil

they can be skeptical or devout

trusting and betraying

every-day and exceptional…

 

how can such a complex being contain so much in one package?

how can it all be purely accidental that they are the way they are?

Tappity-tap-tap

Tappity- tappity- tap…

Swiftly now, catch the words… my poor fingers. God knows what else is lost when those words are lost.

Tappity- tappity- tap-tap-tap…

She tries to catch up with his pace.

A few months ago, he would measure his steps with hers. Hand-in-hand, they measured their steps, oblivious to the rushing passerby, as if suspended in a strange waltz.

He often looks over his shoulder to see if she is still there.


Tap-tap-tap..
.

A pen, clasped between fingers, jittery and awkward in its movement… its bounce against the wood leaves an echo in the impatient youth’s head. Fifteen minutes is all that’s left. The paper is still clean.

Tap-tap…

She gazes out a window stained with the tears of the sky.

It cries every morning, and forgets by mid-afternoon.

She wonders if she is as forgetful, or if she had simply stopped caring.
She looks out but sees nothing of what is there– not the sky, not the clouds, not the drops…
She sees what isn’t there– Hand-in-hand, suspended in an awkward waltz…
then, the sky broke into a horrible fit and the waltz turned into panic, a scamper for something to shield themselves with. It was futile; but it was also a memory revived by the constant temper of the sky.

Tap…

The impatient youth makes a scribble, stands up, and hands a clean parchment to the lady at the desk. He was the last to leave, and yet swiftly made himself scarce right after.

The lady studied the only words, looked up hoping to see him, but discovered that he was gone.

He wrote, “The sky is crying.”

And then, “goodbye.”