I've gotten a couple of emails from readers (and my "real-life" friends) wondering about my dating life out here. So, as promised, I'll do an update about it! Seeing Black women/Asian men couples comes along like shooting stars...or leap years...or some other far-off occurrence. The media (they are to blame for everything, aren't they?) would have us believe that these pairings don't happen at all. But truthfully, I think there is an equal amount of curiousity on both ends, at least in my case. I would venture to say that any hesitation on a Korean's man part to talk to me comes more from cultural differences and not racial ones. Korean culture vs. American culture, East vs. West type of thing. The bottom line is if you like what you see, you'll find a way to make a connection. Unless of course you bury yourself in bookshelves like me! But I think that goes for any red-blooded human being. Koreans may not be as direct, especially with a foreigner, but patience helps I suppose.
Case in point is new guy, Robert, a university student who is planning to study abroad in Australia in 2 weeks! I met Robert when Jar was here. Bro and I were hanging out down by the Han River one morning but had to leave so I could get to work. Now, I, having lived here for 7 months now, knew how to get home. But Jar, having been in Seoul for 12 hours, insisted that he knew better. See why I tried to kill him? He was determined. So I gave up the fight and let him whip out that embarrassing, jumbo-sized tourist map. Along came Robert and asked us, quite calmly, "Do you need some help?"
"No," I said in a huff. "We're fine, thanks." And I turned back to my simpleton brother in utter annoyance. "C'mon Jar, let's go!"
"No, no LOOK!!! If we go THIS way..." he explained to me like I were the visitor. Robert laughed and tried to figure out where we were going and the best way to get there. I insisted that we were fine. I live here, after all!!! I hate being mistaken for a tourist when I'm not. So anyway, Robert showed us to the platform (which I knew!!) and chatted us up. In fact, he rode all the way back to my area and he even took the bus with us to my neighborhood! Why? Because it turned out that he lived right near me! Random...
So, two days ago, Robert texted me to say hello. I had actually forgotten about him in all the madness when Jar was here and I was swamped at work last week. So, it was nice to hear from him. We decided to have dinner that night after work. But we didn't just have dinner...oh no. Our date turned into one of those college-style dates where you spend the entire night talking til the wee hours. As in 7 am. I was cranky and exhausted the next day, but it was worth it! He showed me some interesting areas right in our town, like Aiinsworld. This place has mini replicas of the world's major monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. Granted, at 12 am, it was closed but we were able to walk around the fence outside. I caught a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and King Kong hanging from the Empire State Building. It was cool. In the midst of looking for bathrooms, we stumbled upon a kids' arcade and whupped each other in Tekken for 30 mins. He taught me the worst Korean curse word and I taught him some colorful ways to drop F-bombs. I am a teacher, after all. :)
Around 1am, we crossed the highway to visit a big park that offered cool views of Bucheon. My favorite part was the massive field of flowers in bloom! People could pick them if they wanted. We saw a drunk guy stumbling through there just grabbing them by the handfuls. I suspect he would present them to his pissed-off wife waiting at home. Robert picked some for me but I ended up leaving them on a bench somewhere. He taught me how to skip rocks by the pond, but that lesson ended abruptly when I hit him with one by accident. Oops!! Then we really just talked. He said he had wanted to call me many times over the past week but he was "so nervous". When he finally did call me, last Saturday, he had everything written down and ready to go, but the call went straight to my voicemail since I was in Japan. Cute points for admitting anxiety. Robert is cool people though. I think he will be a good penpal...and at the very least, we can swear each other silly! :)
I still hang out with Bryan, too! We've gone on about 4 outings...maybe 5. Our interactions are limited to weekends because of my schedule but we've had dinner and just hung out. I actually like it that way because the last thing I want is to see someone everyday. This is definitely casual dating...no love connections necessary. I truly covet my personal time and space being out here and if my schedule is full or empty, it is completely my choice. Bryan is a good teacher. For some reason, when he tells me something in Korean, I remember it. But when that nutjob teacher says it, I get amnesia.
After speaking to my trusted coworker, Terry, we decided that Chinese Food delivery man would be a very bad idea. Hahaha! For one, I can do better. And for 2, he probably doesn't have good intentions anyway. About 2 months ago, I ran into him again and I actually gave him my number. I really thought he wanted help with his English. Stupid me. So, for about a week after that, he would text me in his broken English and he called me late at night. One time he texted me asking if I wanted to have a beer. I was with Terry so I had her respond in Korean, declining the offer. And ever since then, he never bothered me. So I guess he got the message.
In my limited knowledge of Korean guys, I don't see much difference between them or any other guy. Some messages get garbled naturally but in general, they're the same. I don't know what I expected really. Although, one ginormous pet peeve is that they still live at home. Bryan is 29 and yeah, he still lives at home. But that's just how it is - men and women crash with Mom and Pop til they're married whereas in the US, kids are on the first thing smoking to get out of Mom and Dad's house. But it makes perfect sense when I think about it. South Korea is all about community and sharing, leaning on each other for everything. People don't need to "express" their individuality by going out and living alone and racking up lots of debt. I, however, need that to a degree (well, not the debt part). My parents would ask me, "Why Korea??" And I guess I needed to prove to myself that I've achieved a certain level of independence, that I can do this. My favorite story growing up was The Little Engine That Could. I couldn't sleep until I read it. I still have it to this day in all its applesauce-coated glory. So, not surprisingly, I'm still chugging along, saying "I think I can, I think I can..." It doesn't really matter what I'm chugging towards so long as I don't stop chugging. After being here for 8 months, I can only say, "I know I can...I know I can.."