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When Things Change

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January 2016

 

"When did you fall in love with your husband?"

It's on the tip of her tongue to say that she fell in love with him in Beijing, that she fell in love with him after their first kiss. But it's not true.

She sits and ponders and is luckily saved by the reappearance of her husband; she smiles gratefully at him as he interrupts the director, his face giving nothing away but the twinkle in his eye as he catches hers reassures her that he is still, after all these years, looking out for her. She watches him dodge questions about his presence and her mind keeps spinning, going further and further back down memory lane.

He had always been the sickly one. He moved, with just his dad, to a neighborhood bustling with families. He was a single child, with no one to look after or have look after him, but that didn't change certain facts. The fact that she reached out to him first, apart from the rest of the gang. That she wanted to pick him up, even when he wasn't completely down. That she couldn't even sleep after she had accidentally injured him, causing fuss after fuss until her parents and his father realized that the only way to calm her down was to let her fall asleep beside Taek.

Taek, with his bandage that covered his five stitches.

Deoksun can't remember the details exactly, but she remembers how the parents had regaled everyone at the wedding with the tale. How they'd stumbled upon the duo in the morning, with their tiny hands firmly clasped together and how they'd longed for a camera in those days to capture that picture forever.

"That's a wrap for now," the director calls from behind the camera and Taek wanders over to her. She pats the seat beside her and he settles in, hyper-aware of the people shuffling as they leave the apartment. He relaxes completely once they've left and he finds her hand and she smiles when she still feels that spark, safely cocooned in years of comfort that have been built now.

"They asked me when I fell in love with you," she says, as she shuffles closer to him lay her head on his shoulder.

"They asked me the same," he grumbles from above her. He nudges her off her shoulder to glare at her, pouting in the same way she's seen for decades. "I can't believe you said that it was 1989, even after all of this time."

She slaps the hand covering her own with her free hand and nestles back into his side.

"What was I to know," she huffs haughtily. "You were the one who kissed me suddenly, without any warning."

Taek's laugh reverberates in her ears and she can feel herself start to crack a smile. "You know," he says, reaching over to pick up her hand again.

"You were the one who chased me, you know. I don't know when I fell for you, but I do know that I had no chance when you always did everything for me, without ever asking for anything in return."

It's been over 2 decades since they've gotten together, but hearing him speak like this still makes those butterflies appear. They're tamer now, but that's only because she doesn't need them as a measuring tape to assuage her feelings towards a man anymore.

She lifts her head.

"You know what I think," she carefully interlocks their fingers together, "I think I've always just loved you," she declares and his answering guffaw makes her start to hit him. He's still laughing, but this time when she meets his gaze, she can practically hear him whisper in her head.

Bingo.

 

 

If you'd asked Sung Deoksun at age 10 to list all of the people she loved, she'd list everyone, including the mailman.

Appa, Omma, Noeulie, Unnie, Taekie, Dongryongie, Junghwanie, Sunwoo, Junghwan appa, Taekie appa, Sunwoo omma, Junghwan omma, mailman ahjusshi, Jinjoo, Jungbong oppa.

If you'd ask her 5 years later, at 15, she'd list the same people, minus the milkman. He would always hound Taek to teach him how to play Baduk, and she didn't like him taking Taek away from their play time.

 

Appa, Omma, Noeulie, Unnie, Taekie, Dongryongie, Junghwanie, Sunwoo, Junghwan appa, Jinjoo, Taekie appa, Sunwoo omma, Junghwan omma, Jungbong oppa.

If you had the courage to ask her after 5 years again, she would list the same people, finally altering the order, but her breath would hitch over the fifth name to pass her lips and she would would if there was anyone else who could ever climb past that space. Her chest would hurt but she would smile brightly and pretend like it didn't mean anything because after all, he had been relieved.

 

Appa, Omma, Noeulie, Unnie, Taekie, Dongryongie, Junghwanie, Sunwoo, Taekie appa, Jinjoo, Junghwan appa, Sunwoo omma, Junghwan omma, Jungbong oppa.

At the age of 25, she proudly changed the order. She loved saying the syllables of saying the fifth name as much as she loved him. She loved saying his name because now, he was hers.

Appa, Omma, Noeulie, Unnie, Taekie, Sunwoo, Dongryongie, Taekie appa, Jinjoo, Sunwoo omma, Junghwan, Junghwan appa, Junghwan omma, Jungbong oppa.