Today was a nice day. I spoke to my parents on the phone. That is always nice. They nagged each other about nagging me, and then gave me advice on what to do with my stomach.
"Perl-o-sic," my father enunciated. "Take one and you will be fine."
"Yes," he said. "Take one in the morning with your cereal. Then eat grilled chicken."
"Yes, grill chicken! Just grilled chicken!"
"Just grilled chicken?"
"Or salmon. Get salmon."
"Okay. I got it. Grilled chicken and salmon."
"For one week."
I kept my father's advice in mind as I headed to Itaehwon later in the day to meet So Gee. We got salmon, lima beans, yogurt, and an avocado. Then we went to a Persian restaurant, where I had - you guessed it - salmon kabob!
"You speak Farsi?" the owner asked me in Farsi.
"A bit," I said back in Farsi.
"Where are you from?"
Are you from Iran?"
"I was born in Tehran."
"Oh, that's nice. What can I get you?"
"She'll have the chicken kabob. I'll try the salmon."
"Do you want some salad and yogurt to go with it?"
"That sounds nice."
The waiter walked away. So Gee looked at me expectingly.
"What?" I asked.
"So? What'd he say?"
"He said he likes the way you look. He thinks you would be good to eat."
"I knew it," So Gee laughed.
"Well," I smiled, "It's written all over you."
I felt a lot better getting out of the house, and being with her. She made me feel happier, and I started to get the thought that maybe I could beat this illness with the right mindset, that maybe I could just think of myself as healthy, and it would be so.
"Korea isn't that bad," I told her. "It's not like great, but it's okay."
"I understand," she nodded. "When I came back from the states to here, I went through a major depression. I just felt so free when I was there. I was happy. Here, there is a different energy."
"Yeah," I agreed. "It's like everybody is out to make money fast, fast, fast."
"Yes, it's all about results."
We were in a cab now. I looked out the window. There were dozens of neon lights, jutting out from the storefronts that lined the street down Itaehwon. I recognized it as Korea. I nodded almost half asleep. The salesmanship. The simplicity. The cabbie in front of us, slamming his brakes.
"I don't like him," So Gee said, with her eyes slightly averted from the front seat.
"He just grabbed our bags and threw them in the front seat."
"Well," I laughed. "You better get used to that. That's going to happen no matter where you are."
"You know I don't know what will happen for the two of us. I don't know if you'll like me enough to come to the states with me when I go, or even if you'll like me a couple months from now. I have no idea. But we probably need to look at what needs to be done if you decide to come with me."
"Are you proposing to me?"
"Are you going to propose to me in this cab?"
"Uh...no. I mean-"
"Don't do it here. It has to be special."
"What? That's not what I'm saying. I just said to look into what it would take to get you to the states."
"Do it when you're ready." So Gee said very matter of factly, and laid down on my lap.
I put my hand on her forehead. I told her she was my Chinese girl. She said she was Filipino. I asked her if she would like living in America. She said that wasn't even a question. I told her about my parents. She started belly dancing. I imagined an igloo. It was in my hand. We walked inside and lived a life. I caught fish. She started fires. There were children. The children made more igloos. They rose in semi-circles on my finger tips. The neon from the street cascaded down upon them, giving them hues of orange and magenta. Then I let the igloos melt into her hair, as I held the back of her neck to keep her from sliding off my lap.