It’s a bright new world, with a bright new Moon president. Or so I hear. South Korea had presidential elections yesterday, and by using Google Translate on a newspaper headline I gather that the man who won is named Moon. Regardless of this, I have as serene a morning as usual. Carson has a phone call and Trennis, Ruby, and Olivia go out for groceries, so the boys and I chill in the living room with Moana and my travel journal.
We all head out in time for lunch in a restaurant that is traditional as none of the others have yet been in that we remove our shoes at the door and then sit on the floor around low tables with the charcoal grills in the centers. Have you ever eaten a bit of rice, a bit of grilled pork, green onion salad, garlic, and ssamjang sauce, all wrapped up in a leaf of lettuce? I recommend you try it. It is one of the better things you can put in your mouth.
After lunch Trennis’s have their second meeting with their little Andrea, and again we get to witness. The energy in the meeting room is entirely different today; just as happy but less emotional, less pressure. Andrea herself is an adorable child, who scarcely ever stays still for two minutes together. Her black hair dances and under her black skirt her little legs dance too, as she giggles and runs away and back again. But she already calls Trennis and Ruby Appa and Omma, and there are moments when she stops, when her hand lies quietly against her daddy’s shirt as he holds her, when she looks with eyes that see instead of eyes that run away.
Later, Trennis’ parents take the kids back to their apartment, and Trennis and Ruby, Carson and I go out for the evening. Past Sangsu Station we enter one alley and then spend many minutes wandering through many more. It is fascinating, a world of tiny boutiques and little restaurants and coffee shops crowding next to the narrow streets, with strangers that pass, walking as though they know where they are going, as though this is ordinary life.
We have much debate and indecision about where we should eat, and after some time of walking we start going in circles, growing ever hungrier without knowing precisely what we want. Then to our surprise, we end up at a Texas barbecue joint. But that turns out to be an interesting experience, rather like seeing yourself from someone else’s perspective, and the food certainly does not disappoint. It is rather better than any barbecue I’ve had in the States, though it does not quite taste like Texas: here and there a little Korean tang slips in, and I wonder if this is how these people would feel about our Asian restaurants in America.
Afterwards, we go in search of a coffee shop we saw earlier, and once we’ve walked in another circle we realize that it was kind of across the street from the BBQ restaurant all the time. It’s a sweet place, with a wide-open pink window and dried flowers hanging from the ceiling and a row of white teapots on top of a full bookshelf. We sip coffee and eat thick slices of chocolate cake and talk, and there is some perfection there.
On the way back to the apartment, Carson and I stop at our little artisan coffee shop for more fresh-roasted coffee. I’m starting to fall a little bit in love with this place, with its crowded bookshelf walls and its elaborate cold-brew coffee system and its sweet lady proprietor. Tonight she gifts Carson a cup of coffee to drink while we walk home.
Back at the apartment, we go on up to the roof where we can see so much beauty I can scarcely take it in. I feel I must capture it, hold on to it, and yet I cannot. My camera is too feeble and my words are not brilliant enough, but I try both ways. Picture, if you can, a thousand city lights, sparkling in the buildings, glittering in the night river; arched bridges faintly silhouetted against the shining dark waters; glowing golden streets curving away; and above it all, a gleaming white Flower Moon. It is all so lovely, so perfect, that it hurts me