5. 2023, The Wild Wild West

September 23, Between us

In a CU near downtown Ulsan as I was juggling a protein drink and several granola bars, a preschool boy ran past the floor to ceiling windows. He stopped and looked at me on one side of the glass. I stopped and looked at him from the other.

After a moment, I smiled at him with an over-exaggerated, teeth-revealing, silly expression.

He did the same back to me and then ran away.

I stood laughing to myself in between packets of crackers and bags of chips.

After purchasing my breakfast items, I exited through the side door, curious as to where my little friend went. I assumed that he was probably having a CU-sponsored midnight snack at one of the cheap plastic tables out back and I was right.

I passed by him and bared my toothy grin again. He bared his in return. The parents and little cousins were none the wiser of this uncommon exchange.

And there I formed an inside joke with a little boy on a weeknight somewhere in the cooling fall air, far from Seoul.

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