It was January.
A blinding hot summer.
The sweat dripped down my unexpectedly-designer outfits as I walked to the bus stop. I was suffering from a small bout of amnesia caused by my trauma over the ending of a show called Black. Had it finished in 2017? 2018?
I couldn’t remember.
It was a hole in my memory; one that I’d wiped to help me stay functioning in the world.
My Christmas binge watches were a distant memory and I was plodding along through a pedestrian existence of past hits, recent disappointments and my desire to stop the conception of the Hong Sisters.
Then on my way through the daily drudgery of my life, I was nearly hit by a motorbike and fell into a giant house of cards with the words I’m Not a Robot written on it.
What strange, beautiful genius was this?
What Roomba birthday party of the soul had I crashed into?
What healing power had cured my trauma and sent me racing for the television to bask in the glow of True Love?
What joy was this?
Of course it ended as all true love affairs do. It was autumn.
I had the rosy nostalgia of beautiful memories and felt emboldened. I could love! I could be happy! I could be satisfied! This was what life could be!
I threw myself back into the world like a Candy embracing her fourteen part-time jobs. I would find love again.
But life doesn’t work like that. The seasons were changing. The days were shortening. The bed beckoned. I drank a cup of coffee, blend Evergreen but it just made me more soporific. I was bored. A man wearing a name tag that said “I am a Doctor. Ask me about my revenge plans” offered me a drink but after a few sips, I gave it back. It tasted like nothing.
I turned on the radio. I turned it off. They were talking about romance but romance should be more than talk, you know? Maybe if the presenter went back to talking about food? I hear he’s planning on doing that later in the year if he doesn’t enlist instead.
What had happened to my golden summer?
An elevator broke down at work and I was trapped in a lift with a man who was talking to himself. He was gorgeous and a great singer but clearly angry about being in the wrong lift. And now I was stuck with him to the end. Would they rescue me in time? It’s strange but when I finally got out I could have sworn there was another man there as well.
The journey to work is getting weirder. Were car accidents always this common? On the way to the bus stop, I saw a truck hit a Giant; a man of strangely gentle beauty. He was fine. But the next day he was struck again and yet again. I hope he’s okay, my gentle giant.
I went to the mountains for some time away. I got kimchi slapped. I didn’t even know that was possible in Australia. What is happening?
It was nearly my birthday.
This was my problem. Middle age. The time when you realise you made mistakes twenty years ago that can’t be undone. You swapped your dreams for pragmatism. You never achieved the things you really wanted. Your role now isn’t to be saved but to be the saviour. Not to wallow in what you should or could have had, but to help others achieve theirs. You’re not just a parent to your own children, but to others. A Mother. Whether you’re an Ahjumma or My Ahjussi, your life will fall into place when you help others. Just because winter is the disaffection of middle age, doesn’t mean there will be no spring.
I should redouble my efforts. Life doesn’t have to be like this. Life can be fun. Life can be a mental Island with palm trees and flowing gin and an alligator in a little tug boat. Life can be A Poem A Day. You just have to bring the joy of your dreams into your daily, boring life. Not discard them completely.
So what if it’s cold and dark and miserable? So what if you thought you saw Something in the Rain and you were wrong? Grab your yellow umbrella and look again! There is something between noble martyrdom and running away! You can walk that line and make life worth something!
And here it is again! The bike, knocking you off your feet and into a charming little noodle restaurant. This is the place to spend winter. Good food, good company. The chef was a little shouty but I really craved his noodles.
Then one day I went back and it was completely different. What had happened?
Why does everything you love change and then leave?
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t.
A childhood friend gave me a hug. I felt better.
I took an extra 10 part-time jobs over winter. I know what you’re thinking, “When did she find the time?”
I needed a distraction because I took a day off work and my secret twin took my job! And he was better than me at it! It was only later I found out he started dating a colleague too. She was struggling with sexual harassment and I think he helped her out. So I should be grateful for it even if I think they’re doomed.
(My boss married his secretary. That’s doomed too. She was talking about resigning but didn’t. I think it’s a terrible mistake).
I called a man to come and help me with the housework. He was okay, I guess. Nothing special but the work got done. If only I had more Time, or at least a terminally-ill rich man to leave me all his money. It’d help me with my medical bills. Have you seen the price of healthcare lately? Privatisation is practically a crime.
That’s Life I guess.
What am I blathering about now?
It’s that childhood trauma thing. It’s flaring up. Sometimes I feel my age, sometimes I feel seventeen. Sometimes I feel like life is a bus crash I’m responsible for and sometimes I feel like I’m a plant that needs to be in a different position to thrive. Sometimes you’re the female lead and sometimes you’re the Fourth Rower. Yes, yes, rowing teams need four people. Why does nobody remember this?
It was finally spring and I have to say, I was a bit burned out. It had been a hard year. So many weird, random things happened. I needed a break. A real break. I needed to go to work and not find I’ve been replaced by a weirdly-competent doppelgänger (Yes that happened three times this year. Once he was a robot. I don’t want to talk about it). I need to be able to take an elevator without it breaking down. I still don’t know where all this designer clothing came from. And why do men keep moving into my house and hovering nearby in case I trip?
I don’t trip, guys! Nobody trips that much!
I don’t need you to sit at a nearby table while I’m drinking. I can get my own way home, sheesh.
Under these circumstances, I think romance would be a little risky, even if my hormones say otherwise.
My father hired a super-hot man to be a carer. He wears expensive suits and he and my father are weirdly close. I guess I shouldn’t judge. Besides, he looks like he could kill me with one finger.
And he’s a damn good carer.
I’m starting to think being knocked off the road in January was the best thing to happen to me. I’m still waiting to love like that again. Maybe I was wrong? Maybe it isn’t possible? The smile has definitely left my eyes.
It’s nearly the end of the year and I can’t say it’s been my favourite one. I dreamed I murdered my boss a few times but it wasn’t satisfying. So much disappointment.
The house needs cleaning again but I just have no passion.
I guess I should look through my old photos and try to choose a travel destination. The weather is warming up again and storms are gathering. It’d be a good time to get away.
I have such good Memories of Alhambra. I hope it’s just as good as I expect.
NOTE: Drama references in order, did you get them all?
I’m Not a Robot
Let’s Eat 3
My Husband Oh Jak Doo
A Poem a Day (You Who Forgot Poetry)
Something in the Rain (Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food)
Greasy Melo (Wok of Love)
Come Here and Hug Me
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?
Are You Human Too?
Your House Helper
Thirty But Seventeen
My Secret Terrius (Terius Behind Me)
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (A Million Stars Falling From the Sky)
Feel Good to Die (Happy if You Died)
Clean with Passion for Now
Memories of the Alhambra