I began this blog on the eve of my great flight across the ocean to South Korea. I wrote my first post in a hotel room in Seattle the night before I hopped on a plane for Seoul where I would pull on a smock and teach art for two years at an English immersion school for economically privileged, impeccably dressed 5 year olds. I wonder if any part of me knew that this foreign journey would lead me beyond the paint and the smocks and the adorable Asian kinder kids to meet the love of my life.
About a year after I moved to Korea, I began dating someone back in America (we'll call him Gus). Gus was wonderful--smart, kind, and hard working. He baked his own bread for Pete's sake. Gus and I had long conversations and good laughs. Gus came to visit me in Korea two times, and we had even longer conversations and better laughs over rice tea and bibimbop. Despite this affability there was always a deep down niggling; I felt as if something wasn't quite there. I couldn't find that mysterious spark of chemistry, that elusive je ne se quoi. Because of this niggling, my relationship with Gus was of the on again off again variety--it was never quite on, and it was never quite off.
It was a Sunday afternoon. I was feeling a little morose, confused, and flat. Gus and I were still relatively new to our relationship, yet we were already going through one of our "breaks-not-break-ups". After a long subway ride through the city and a hefty trek up the hill past the smelly garbage sacks and the corner market, I made it into the chapel and plopped into a pew just in time for the opening hymn. Almost immediately I saw that just a few pews ahead of me a tall man with curly dark hair was sitting with Brother and Sister Knudsen, a beloved missionary couple in our ward. I knew they had a son who was single, and I prayed to God (literally) that this was him. I was sitting with my girlfriends, and the entire pew was vibrating with anticipatory chatter.
"Who is that?!"
"Is that Brother and Sister Knudsen's son?"
"Is he married? Look at his ring finger!"
For the entire church meeting I couldn't stop staring at him. He was so ridiculously handsome, but more than that I was aware of some ethereal pull inside of my gut. I felt a little pop pop in my stomach, and I knew the mysterious spark had arrived. That ever elusive je ne se quoi that I had been clawing after in my relationship with Gus was making herself known in this stranger and with an obviousness and inevitability that shook my bones.
Due to a combination of innate shyness and the blur of twitterpation, I didn't speak to CHB nor seek him out for the remainder of our church meetings. However, I knew that Brother and Sister Knudsen were hosting a dinner at their house for all of the single adults that evening, and I hoped a bright red hope that I would see him there. Even if I didn't talk to him, I still wanted to stare at him more and fantasize about our future babies.
I walked into the Knudsen's apartment that night, and there he was--CHB--standing all lanky like at the head of the buffet table guarding the sushi and looking as cool as one can when surrounded by raw fish. My eyeballs froze at my feet. I couldn't look at him. I was so nervous. I was also very hungry so I forced myself to take slow, shuffle steps toward the table to get my food. What was I going to say to this man who had knocked me off kilter? When I reached the table and was face to face with CHB the pop pop in my stomach was immediately promoted to a BOOM! BOOM! He reached out his hand and said warmly, "Hi. I'm Jacob." Just like that. I'm sure I introduced myself, too, but considering the state of my brain at that moment in time it probably came out sounding like, "Hi. I'm blooooorrrggup." CHB and I didn't talk for the rest of the evening (turns out CHB is just as shy as I am when it comes to love), but that did not stop me from sneaking glances/stares and planning potential wedding destinations. As I was leaving, CHB finally engaged me in a conversation (victory!); we spoke briefly about the fact that he was flying back to America the next day. I smiled and wished him a safe flight when all I really wanted to say was, "What? No! Blooooooorrrrgup!"
I left the Knudsen's apartment feeling both elated at my good luck in meeting this man and deflated at the thought that I may never see him again. When I arrived home, I did the only thing I knew to do. I immediately grabbed my journal, and I wrote on the top of the page, "I want Jacob Knudsen to be in my life."
To be continued...