The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my email. Both accounts, then Facebook. I want to get email. I crave it. I love it when I do.
This morning, after checking my email and finding my inbox empty, I decided to clean and cook. It is the weekend. That is what I do on the weekend. While I'm doing it, I imagine how great it would be if I had someone else to do it for me. To sweep and mop the linoleum floors--to put my dirty laundry in the machine and then take it out again and hang it on the clothes rack to dry--to iron my work shirts--to cook my meals. I'm not sure if I need a wife or a maid. I might even settle for a robot.
The kitchen table was damp and spotless and the dishes drip dried in the dish rack when I sat down with a cup of coffee. I was full from the eggs and ham breakfast I had cooked for myself for breakfast. I put my feet up and tried to relax. I want to relax more than anything but I want it so bad I start to stress about it and in the end I can't. So relaxing has become mythical, like a promised land or better yet, a fairy land. I think just a little more cleaning, just a little more work, just one more week of thirteen hour days at the office, then I'll relax. Yeah. But the next day always brings more work. I wonder if that is what people really want when they talk about heaven, if some just give up on peace here on earth and look for it in the next life. In the next life we will relax.
My roommate woke up. I felt a bit bad about cleaning and cooking in the morning but it is eleven o'clock. Eleven o'clock! The phone rang. It was 11:03. "Hello Mah-tyew. I am Hae-seoung." That's right he was going to cook breakfast for us this morning at eleven o'clock. I wanted to stay home and relax with my coffee and the view out my window but he sounded so happy.
My roommate took off, right out the door, looking like he just woke up: his hair disheveled and a greasy glean to his skin. I tell him I'll catch up. I throw on some jeans and a button up dress shirt and roll up the sleeves, then ride the elevator down eleven floors. I step out into the day. The sun is shinning and the east wind feels like fall. There are children everywhere! They all giggle and say "Hello! How are you today!?" in English and then run away laughing when I say hello back.
Hae-seoung lives right across the street in a tall apartment building like mine. I can look right into his window at night when his lights are on. But with the elevators and walls and gates, it takes me about ten minutes to walk to his apartment building.
I look up and Hae-seoung is hanging out of the twelfth story window waving.
I'm coming, I tell him.
I ride the elevator up. There are three big mirrors in the elevator-one on each wall. They are at eye level for Koreans but I can only see my reflection from the chest down--an infinite loop of my ever growing belly reflected back at me. I turn away and look up at the numbers change on the display as I go up and up. When the door opens, Hae-seoung jumps out and says, "Boo!" He is happy. He loves to eat.
We walk down the hall to his apartment and take off our shoes. His apartment is simple and clean: wooden floors, a sponge on the aluminum counter top, a low table in the corner with a ten year old TV on it, his laptop computer on the floor playing the best of classical music, and in the middle of the room--the breakfast table was set. Mushroom spaghetti took it's place of honor as the main course in the middle of the table and around it were three empty bowls for the spaghetti and three bowls, one for each of us, filled only half full of vegetable cream soup. There was also a board with nine fresh French rolls laid out in three rows of three. For silverware, he had put out two plastic forks for Paul and I, the Americans. How thoughtful!
He dished out our spaghetti and we ate and talked well past lunch time with the window open and the ocean sparkling not two blocks away. The sea breeze, mixed with the Mozart and the smell of mushrooms, was almost too much. Eating breakfast with those guys, even if we do speak in broken Korean and English--was relaxing.