This weekend after Smalltown tried to phone me once or twice without answer, he sent along this message: "Eliza..... yellow porpoises ruled by force for eternity... 'who will save us from those horrid creatures' the little nestling cried... 'not i' the lion stuttered... 'not i' dared the whale... rich bloody redness rose from beneath the twitching sea life offal which lined the floor. The scaly, silvery, mucky carpet of putrid mire purged by flora pattern-groan-creaked.... then began to disperse... carted away by the vibrating spiral conveyor which must have layn beneath... 'WHO WILL SAVE YOU' roared the nestling from the top of Mount Wrath.... porpoises strewn on grass."
Now, if you don't speak Smalltown -- and I'm assuming most of you don't -- allow me to translate: "Hey I've been trying to get a hold of you but you never answer your fucking phone. Get your shit together and call me back."
I answered: "demon in the phone. ghost in the machine. what are you up to?"
Translation: "Sorry. I've been crazy busy, but I've been meaning to call you back. What are you up to?"
Then he called one more time, and this time I answered. He was sitting on a beach in Busan with a beer in his other hand. I was huffing my way down the street after a hell of a day to meet a friend for dinner.
"I just feel like my life is this gargantuan stone I've been shoving and heaving with all my might and then, somehow, without my noticing, it started to roll and now it's gathering speed... And it's like, hold up. I know I was pushing this damn thing, but just hold on a fucking minute, here...."
This is what happened on Saturday morning.
Friday night, I took the bus out to the new place with a bottle of wine in my bag to celebrate B finishing his job and officially becoming a contract worker (a plan which has been long in the works) by sitting on the floor of our mostly empty new apartment and eating greasy pizza. Which is what we did. Then, around 8:30 am on Saturday morning, as I was just finishing fixing the coffee, the doorbell rang for the first time of the day. The half a billion piece china set B's mom ordered for us had arrived.
Let me try to explain this as best I understand it at this point. B's mom knows we are moving in together and is over the moon about it, but I'm not so sure that she has a cultural reference for what's happening. And so, as far as we both can figure, in her mind, the only reference point is marriage. And that's kind of the situation we're being faced with. She wanted to buy us a bed, but B argued her out of that by saying we'd already ordered one (we hadn't, but we had chosen one), and then she had his father send him 3 million won to help us furnish the new place anyway. But she was still set on sending her own gift. Which is how we've wound up with -- no joke, no exaggeration -- approximately 30 variously sized bowls with cherries and butterflies on them.
I boggled at the size of the box. I knew the dishes were coming, but what the fuck could be going on in there that would require a container of this size? And then we opened it, and it just kept coming. Three layers of bowl after bowl after bowl.
After unloading it all onto the counter tops, I pushed my hair out of my face and sighed. "Okay. It's obviously... this is Korean style. It's fine. We can use my Western style dining sets when we cook Western, and we can use this when we have Korean.... and six to eight guests for dinner."
B laughed. "I told her a million times not to send it, but we had to give up on something."
"No, you're right. Just, when she calls, tell her they're beautiful and we love them and thank you so much."
"그래. I will."
Sitting out on the balcony with our coffee and cigarettes, we took in the cool morning weather. We had a busy day in front of us, but it seemed that it would at least not be too hot. We heard B's phone ringing, and he jumped back inside to grab it. The two massive armoires, which required a lift to be brought into the apartment and which were supposed to arrive next weekend, were ready to go and would be arriving around 2. B asked the delivery guy if he knew of a lift service he could call to come with him and thankfully, the guy said that he did. After he hung up, B spent a good five minutes frantically wandering back and forth across the apartment floor muttering to himself. I called him back over. "Just come here and finish your coffee. We'll go in fifteen minutes, and take a taxi, and that should give us plenty of time to get to the secondhand place and back before they arrive. It's going to be fine. Just take it easy."
After quickly shoving the dishes into our formerly spacious cabinets, we headed out for the secondhand furniture shop. B's mom called right on cue to check in on how we liked the china. B cooed into the phone about how pretty it was, while shooting me a wink from the side. I nodded.
Furniture shop. The phone shop to upgrade both of our phones. Another furniture shop. B put in an order for his desk and chair to be delivered at 4. We headed back home to cook and eat a quick lunch and take it easy for a minute before the shit started to show up and we had to get everything situated.
Just as B turned off the stove and I finished putting the rice into bowls to sit down and eat, we heard someone shouting from the street. The armoires had arrived an hour early. We helped the guy haul them in from the window, move them to the bedroom and remove layers of packaging. He left, and we sat down to eat our cold lunch.
By this point, I had started to bug out a bit. It was B's turn to settle me down. And he did. But then, as we stood at the sink washing the dishes, we heard someone shouting B's name from the street again. I checked the clock. 2:30. B shook his hands dry. "What the fuck?" He went to the window. The desk and chair had arrived an hour and a half early.
A man tramped in hauling four huge boxes. I stood in the kitchen with wet hands and knew, instantly, what had happened. But I didn't say anything until B had opened the boxes.
This was not his desk and chair. This was our sofa and armchair, which were also set to arrive next weekend, here on our floor in a dozen pieces.
We put together the sofa and arm chair, took three trips hauling boxes down to the trash from the fourth floor, and sat quiet, dazed and sweating on our new sofa waiting for the desk to arrive.
And then I took a shower. And then I was out on the street, talking to Smalltown on the phone.
Later that night, sitting outside with a friend at my new favorite coffee shop enjoying the cooling of the day, I explained that I wasn't quite sure why, but the day had felt more than busy, like something more than a lot of furniture arriving all at once.
My friend didn't mince her words in response: "You're getting wifed up. And you're bugging about it."
She was right.
I had planned to go back to my place last night after dinner and coffee, to take some time to myself and recover after the day I had had. But instead, I found myself lingering longer than usual with my friend, buying two summer berry beers and taking the train back to the new place to wait for B to get home. I put his drunk ass to bed, put his beer in the fridge for later, and sat in our new arm chair by the window in the dark drinking my own. It was quiet.
This morning, we woke up and B cleaned while I cooked breakfast. We ate. We watched the History channel on our new TV, which B finally realized I'd argued against getting not because I hate TV, but because I hate how easily sucked into wasting my time watching it I can be. We lay on the couch. B cut up a watermelon. We went out in our gym shorts and slippers in the rain to the grocery store around the corner to buy stuff to make kimchi jjigae, and waited in line behind all the other couples in gym shorts and slippers. We came back home. I cooked while he took a nap. We ate.
As we walked to the train together tonight, B headed to his basketball game, me, heading home, he said: "Today we had a real Sunday."
"What do you mean?"
"We cleaned. We watched TV. We cooked. It was a real life Sunday."
I started to say that every Sunday is a real life Sunday, but I stopped. Because I knew what he was trying to say.
"우리 집 너무 커. 리즈 빨리 와."
"응. 빨리 올께."