Sweet City of Mine
- onJune 18, 2018
- Vol.40 Summer 2018
- byJeong Yi Hyun
- Sweet City of Mine
Tr. Jung Yewon 2006442pp.
“Growth” is a word rife with positive meaning. I completely understand why you’d want to believe that through pain, your soul expands, that you come one step closer on the path to becoming a mature human being. Such a rationalization can bring you some comfort.
Yesterday, I felt satisfied, thinking I’d become a real grownup at last for the reason that I didn’t cry on the day of an ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Why had I been so stupid as to think that grownups don’t cry? Grownups, too, weep from time to time. When no one is looking, when no one knows, they cry bitterly with a dried-up heart, even without tears. That is a secret rule in this city.
Yesterday was a long day. Gorilla strode into a grave called marriage, and buried with him were my passions. “We never have any luck with guys.” “So what? If nothing works out, we can build a luxurious, women-only silver town and live there together.” “Yeah, and all the staff will be pretty boys!” Jaein, who had made these resolutions with me, now acted as if she had never done any such thing. In the meantime I gave a presentation, competing with rival companies, and inadvertently meddled in a push-and-pull game involving someone who worked for a former client. And, um . . . spent a night with . . . a guy I didn’t know very well. Or I should say, a guy I’d just met.
I’m not going to regret it. I won’t make excuses, saying that I was momentarily beside myself with the desperation and loneliness of someone who’s been left out. If being a mature human being means attaching meaning to every little thing you do, trembling with remorse, deeply repenting, saying you made a mistake and using it as foundation for self-development, I’m sorry, but I don’t ever want to be an adult. Just because I passed my coming-of-age doesn’t mean I have to live as an adult. I’d rather stay underage. A big child who has stepped aside from heavy words such as duty and responsibility, a voluntary minor.
Couldn’t you just live like a fish swimming in the deep sea? Freely going from crack to crack in this solid system? Then if I caught the eye of another fish or a coral reef, I’d smile sweetly and go on my way. Promising nothing, regretting nothing! Whether such a life would be happy or not, of course, is a mystery. What about the tenacious longing in me for the warmth of another person, for communication, and for a stable relationship with someone? If anything went wrong, I would fall into a trap of self-contradiction and be stuck, unable to move one way or the other.
But no use trying to decide now. Whatever will be, will be. For now, I’ll just go with the flow. Has life ever gone the way I wanted because I prepared and anticipated in advance? And I’ve arrived where I am now without even knowing what direction I wanted to take. With determination, I picked up the wine-colored lipstick and applied it to my lips. So what if it didn’t suit me? I could put on beige pink tomorrow, and maple red the next day. Or I could just wipe it clean.
The moment I put a hoop earring in my ear, I heard a text message come in.
—Feel aight? I’m dying. Have a good one, and c ya this weekend—Taeo.
My sense of reality, which I’d neglected, returned and hit me in the clavicle.
Aight instead of all right. And what about the c ya? It cracked me up. I was about to text back, then paused. Should I text him back or not? I felt as if I were making a bet with myself. I didn’t know which side would win, but whatever choice I made, it was clear that the long day yesterday had come to an end at last.