1.4 Spring 2020 (COVID Archives)

April 23, Life Is Full of Surprises

To be honest with you, the last few days have been tough. The pollution suddenly picked up, I’ve had a lingering cold, and the plans I had for Busan Boy’s and my future came sputtering to an end.

But today was a new day and even though I need a solid nap, I’m back on my game.

Barista Violet couldn’t hear me over the blenders making frappuccinos behind her this morning so I repeated my order several times, finally realizing part of her confusion stemmed from me saying “iced coffee” instead of “ice Americano”. (There is no such thing as “iced coffee” in South Korea.)

Regardless, we survived that interaction and with my onion bagel and iced coffee takeout in hand, I made it to the school and then the elevator because sometimes I do take the easy way. I spotted S from afar with her still new-to-me bob and she ran up to hold my hand.

“Your birthday is this weekend, right?

“Actually it was last weekend,” I corrected.

“Oh no! Well we will still go out. I begged my husband to watch my son so we could go out for your birthday but because he hasn’t been out to eat since the virus started, he wants to come to. So if it’s okay, my husband, son, and I will take you out. You remember my son, he’s bad.” She told me this with the look of a mother who desperately wanted to go out to dinner and would accept the compromise.

She asked if Saturday would work but I had an appointment for the doctor.

“Oh no! What’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing! I just should uh go do my women’s yearly check. But I can’t believe how expensive it is!”

For reasons I don’t understand, the full panel of testing, that is included for free in most American insurance for a woman’s yearly physical, costs nearly $260 here. Only about 10% is covered by Korean national health insurance and it’s frankly shocking that any health service would be cheaper in the US. It is especially a shame for a country that is desperately trying to increase its low birth rate.

S asked why I’m getting it here but I shudder to think about scheduling any annual checkup with a specialist in the US without health insurance.

Life still has a way of tossing my expectations like a good Caesar salad and I found myself shocked when after several extremely quiet days, C turned to me this afternoon and said:

“Are you interested in a blind date?”

I could not have expected anything less to come out of her mouth than this. Well and truly shocked, I spluttered.

She added, “I told my friend about you and he’s interested in meeting you. He studied in America.”

I have so many questions. Namely, what did she tell him? And what inspired such immediate devotion? Honestly, after the hot and cold few months I’ve had, immediate interest sounds pretty damn great.

The timing is especially funny because my online tutor just yesterday suggested 소개팅 (blind date arranged by a friend) to me which is how the majority of Koreans meet their spouses. They’ve already been vetted by the friend network which is half the work!

C saw me struggling and asked if I’d like a picture before deciding.

“Yes,” and thank you for throwing me a rope.

This may seem like a step outside of the relationship C and I have but remember that I asked her to be my mentor for my teaching program and as an introvert, I think these types of gestures have a big significance to her. (I am an extrovert and will literally chase down the mailman for a conversation.)

My luck is that he will not be my type (it’s 9PM and I’ve received no text) but the sudden occurrence of this is both shockingly well-timed and hilariously relevant.

Life is truly full of surprises.

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