I almost don’t want to write this post. I don’t want to speak too soon, I don’t want to jinx anything, I don’t want to speak out of turn – because I know she’ll read this. But on the other hand I really want to share the news, and I want to record the moment.
I think writing a blog requires a certain amount of distance – at least for me: I step back from recent events, revisualise them and put them into words. Stepping back is generally easy for me to do, especially when I’m talking about simple activities – doing taekwondo, teaching, reading. But, as long term readers (are there any still out there?) will know, I try to express some more intimate (for which read ‘disgusting’ – sometimes, anyway) details of my life. In other words, I try to talk about my feelings – or my health problems.
I tend not to comment on friends, because even my closest friends are at some distance from me, both figuratively and literally in many cases. I appreciate their companionship and their many admirable qualities, but I hesitate to see them as essential to who I am. And I don’t want to offend anyone (although I’ve probably just offended all of them).
But now there’s another dimension of my life that I need to talk about:
We met at 5:30 on Saturday at Nowon Station, with plans to have dinner and go and see Burn After Reading. In the event, we did things the other way round. We had coffee first, talking about random stuff, then headed off to the cinema. The film was very good, although very dark – tragic, in fact. Brad Pitt was fantastic as an airheaded personal trainer.
After dinner in the not so romantic, but cheap and cheerful environs of Kimbap Cheonguk – we both had chamchijjigae, a hot tuna soup – we went for a long walk along the cycle path by the nearby river. A long, cold walk. It was frigging freezing, actually. We talked and talked, and walked and walked. Eventually, we turned around and headed back towards terra cognita. At one point I made a few weak puns; she was suitably unamused – but in an amused way. We talked about why men like puns. I suggested that my penchant for them would be her punishment. I had to explain that that was also a pun.
And finally Habiba suggested what I’d been thinking about, but – idiotcowardprocrastinator that I am – had done nothing about. We kissed. And kissed and kissed. She really likes kissing – she told me this and I’ve been discovering just how much she meant it.
By this time it was way past subway closing time and a taxi back to her place at Sangwangsimni would have been very expensive. Habiba suggested we go back to mine. I hadn’t been expecting that – at all. I would cleaned the bathroom if I had. We discussed it for a bit – she knew I was nervous about it. But in the end I asked her to stay over.
My apartment was almost as cold as the outdoors – I leave the window open when I’m out. While she was in the bathroom I climbed up to my loft to wipe away the tea stains and general bodily detritus from beside my bed. I gave her a towel for a pillow – yes, I know, I should have given her mine. We went to sleep in our clothes. It was still cold.
The second wonderful thing that happened that weekend was that, having waited over two months for it, I was finally able to go down to What the Book? in Itaewon to pick up Necrophenia by Robert Rankin. We went together, and, once I’d got the latest tome by the master creator of far-fetched fiction and Habiba’d bought a couple of magazines, we went for ‘brunch’. It was actually lunchtime, but apparently it was still ‘brunch’.
The restaurant was really nice – it wouldn’t look out of place in London – a combination of trendy and bohemian with a little bit of Shaker thrown in. I was finding it difficult to sufficiently hydrate myself, and we order a fair amount of food, so the meal was a bit of chore even though the food was good. Green pesto pizza and some sort of chicken baguette thing, by the way. We ended up taking half the pizza back home with us. I mean – to Habiba’s home.
Habiba hadn’t showered, so she wanted to go home and do that. Her flat is very nicer, much nicer than the average for an English teacher, in my experience. And she’s put a lot of effort into making it a home. Once she was clean we did some more of that kissing stuff, and basically spent the rest of the day in bed. Her home was much warmer than mine, so let’s just say that clothes weren’t necessary.
Later on, I assisted as she made us some dinner: the left over pizza from ‘brunch’ with a tasty salad. And after that I pulled myself from her warm embrace and her kissing lips and went home feeling … I don’t really know what. Surprised – amazed – happy, warm, excited, scared, bewildered, positive. But also, if I’m being honest, none of those things. It’s difficult to describe.
I went over to her place again on Tuesday straight after work, with the larger of my two small backpacks – it was filled mostly with the pillow I’d bought for her bed. Almost as soon as I got inside (inside the apartment) we stood embracing and kissing for at least fifteen minutes. For dinner she’d made rice and coleslaw (the best coleslaw ever – colourful, dry and tangy with cumin). Then we did more kissing – this time more horizontal and less clothed. Quite apart from that, I didn’t sleep much – it takes me a while to get used to new sleeping arrangements.
Habiba, as I’ve mentioned previously, is American Canadian (or vice versa). She grew up in the States and went to university in Montréal (doing textile art) and now considers that city her home. She’s 29, about 5 foot 2, and of the physique often described as ‘cuddly’ in personal ads (though I’ve no idea how I know that). She has dark brown, curly-ish hair and green eyes (she calls them ‘green-hazel’).
She’s an incredibly sweet person – not cloyingly sweet, but just genuinely nice. Kind, generous, mature and childlike at the same time, non-judgemental, open to other people – she has what in therapeutic terms is called unconditional positive regard. While the prospect of a relationship (and I think I can use that word, even at this early stage) is pretty scary, she makes me feel comfortable.
None of which really does her justice. I think I’ll have plenty more opportunities to write about her in future – I certainly hope so.
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