(This is the English translation of 한여름의 일기장, or A Summer Diary– along with some “BTD,” or behind the diary stories, for my friends and followers who were attempting their own translation or merely curious about what REALLY happened that summer.)
In the summer of 2012, I kept a diary while I was in Korea for the first time; and, it felt natural to write in Korean while I was there. It was also something that I had wanted to do ever since I read 딩구는 돌은 언제 잠깨는가 (When Does a Rolling Stone Awaken) by 이성복 (Lee Seong Beok); and, my diary chronicled the time I spent in Korea– the time when I, a rolling stone, was awaken.
6/17/12 What Happened at a Bar
Something will be born in the deep night, in the space between poured drinks and people. The dreams we dreamed today are still breathing inside of our bodies, and we briefly smiled at each other with smiles that broke easily, because we couldn’t express those dream with words. Drinks flowed down from our mouths, and dreams rose up from our hearts. We wanted to throw up– not the alcohol in our bodies but the dreams in our hearts.
I was watching the time that I had spent alive like a movie, and he was smoking a cigarette. He said, “I can see my sigh in this cigarette smoke.” I saw his life in that cigarette smoke:
Something spit out slowly–
Something rising heavily to the sky–
Something lonely, disappearing as it broke apart.
He said that he was going to stop smoking. I couldn’t tell him that his life would stop, too; and, he was smoking the same cigarettes as my ex-boyfriend. I saw that cigarette, and I thought, “I failed at love.” I saw my pathetic sigh in the ashes of a burnt out love. That night in that bar he stopped smoking, and I stopped loving.
The only thing born again was the night, and we set off on the road with drunken footsteps. Swaying side to side– to the club, to our houses. Looking back, there were many times that we got lost, and there were many times that we leaned against each other, too.
Underneath an alien sky, I was always dizzy, but I could not miss my hometown.
6/18/12 Empty Universe
I waited today. While I was waiting for him, I realized that the only way to never feel disappointed is to never expect anything from anyone to begin with. Still, it was all useless.
“It was already too late,” I thought.
Ever since the moment my ex-boyfriend left me, I always thought, “How I would live in this empty universe?” From that moment… how could I have gotten all the way here?
I also realized that dreams were just dreams.
Because there were things that shouldn’t be there in my memory , because there was one man that I should forget but couldn’t forget in my memory…
6/19/12 Pain that Doesn’t Hurt
From my body to my heart…
I waited. After waiting, I fell asleep. Even in my dreams I was waiting. I was waiting for someone, for my dream. I woke up. There was no reply to the email that I had sent. He didn’t come today either. There was nothing. In the midst of useless time, I forgot who I was; and, I thought, “I am living a life that has nothing to do with my will, my purpose.” So, the me won’t wait anymore…
Will wait again tomorrow.
“Those people all said that they were okay, but they were lying. Even though those people were hurting, they couldn’t feel the pain.”
What I’m saying is that absolutely nothing happened today.
Even though we are underneath the same sky,
Our footsteps do not get any closer to each other’s.
A love that couldn’t stay and left,
Even though I call and call it,
Underneath the endless sky, I can’t push
a person like a wall, time that is like a wall.
I can’t even cry.
If love leaves, then it must come back again.
With a light heart,
7/2/12 My Heart Beats
The moment when the world changes, as I lived I always waited for that moment.
She threw up her dreams on the table.
“To love, to be loved, to be a loved.”
Sometime I, too, wanted to live with that mind, that heart. Even though I couldn’t forget him, I forgot that mind, that heart. She changed my world with her words once more. I, who had forgotten the meaning of love, saw love again in the space between her eyes and smile. I felt love again. A love that wasn’t incomplete, that was precious…
I saw a certain charm, a certain lost dream in the space between his eyes and smile. I wanted to grab his hand, my lost dream. While I extended my weak, hopeless hand slowly, the seeds of strength and hope were spread in my heart.
My heart is still beating.
Even though I can’t hold onto him, with that truth alone…
I was happy.
I didn’t speak to him the year after we broke up.
But, I couldn’t forget him. I pretended to forget him. I pretended not to love him. I pretended to be happy.
I lived everyday with his memory.
So, I sent my ex-boyfriend a letter (KakaoTalk message) on a sleeping night.
“What are you doing?
Are you well?
A lot of time has passed, but I still think about you a lot; sometimes I cry, and sometimes I smile. I worry about you a lot. How is your leg? How is work? Are you meeting a nice girl?
Looking back, I was lacking in many ways as a girlfriend. Still, I still miss you, and I still want you to be happy. Being underneath the same sky as you, seeing the world you live in has given me strength and hope. Like you said, it’s too late, but unlike what you said, I can’t forget you. I learned so many things from you: Love, consideration.
I’m always sorry and thankful at the same time.
I don’t think you’ll meet me, so this is just…
On some night this is just me talking to myself, not my beloved ex-boyfriend, before we part again!^^
Now, I’ll sleep, too.”
I slept for two hours.
He called me while I was sleeping.
I could feel his smile through his voice alone.
After such a long time…
My feelings grew complicated; I wanted to hold onto him again.
(BTD Story: It was 2:00 A.M. in the morning when he called and asked me, “Do you have a dream?” This is only important because he hadn’t spoken to me for a year, and this is one of the first things that he said. He still remembered my dream. I still remembered his.)
My heart stopped beating yesterday. In that moment, why didn’t I die?
I came here with nothing– with an empty heart, with empty hands, but something made my weary body, my dead heart feel again. I felt loneliness, longing, pain, sadness; and, in the midst of tears, a smile appeared.
Fulfillment. Happiness. Hope.
I have been living in this world, and I was reminded that the most important things in this world are people and love. Don’t give up; You’re not dead yet. My heart was warmed, and I felt asleep with a smile.
You shook me.
Where do I have to go?
The steps I must take to you are suddenly gone.
A canceled promise– with him. From now on, I’ll eat alone.
It took me 21 years to meet Junho and another three years to let him go.
From “My Child,” a poem by me, Jennifer Gabriel:
“He rewrote me in a foreign language that I could barely speak.
He gave me a new name and a new heart.
Although, one day he would cease to call me by name and break my heart, and then put it back together again one late night after I had traveled to his home and walked underneath a vault of alien skies
that– felt– like– home.”