TRACKSIDED

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SEOUL X SOULS

Do you know Seoul?

I thought I did, but I knew nothing.

My stay here was as though I came on vacation. As I already said, I fell in love with K-pop and K-drama before discovering Seoul.

K-pop and drama are like seeing a cute guy; at first, you’re attracted by his appearance and style. Those two elements are what draw you to become interested. Then you get to know the guy, and you either fall in or hard out of your crush.

In my case, I’m falling in love with Seoul. It didn’t appreciate the city before. I misunderstood it and took the city for granted. Despite our history, I love Seoul better now, for what it is.

I have to admit Tae Won has a lot to do with this, he takes me places where tourists and ex-pats never go, but tonight I don’t get why he chose Dongdaemun, which is THE tourist trap.

“Jane, annyeong.”

“Hi, Tae Won.”

He frowns, “why?” Suddenly I panic, “ㅡeh, did I say something wrong?”

“You said Tae Won.”

“Oh, I think I always call you like that. You permitted me to call you by your first name.”

“Yeah, I know I did, butㅡ.”

Tae Won is awkward; he looks at his shoes like a kid. What’s going on? I do a brief recap of the situation:

- We’re at Dongdaemun.

- And Tae Won asked me to meet him at the DDP Led rose garden.

- The night is warm, the lights are pretty, and Tae Won is handsome as usual. Did I miss something?

“I’m older than you,” Tae Won says, warping me out of my thoughts.

“I know, what’s the proㅡ.”

There it hits me, no, it can’t be. This guy can’t seriously be expecting me to give him an Oppa. I must have I heck of expression because he laughs nervously and slicks his hair back before saying, “nevermind, let’s go.”

We start to walk; there are a lot of tourists with their selfie sticks and couples. The led rose garden was supposed to be temporary, but it became popular, and so it now it’s one of Seoul’s smooching hot spots.

Why did Tae Won bring me here?

He bends his head a little to speak to me, “have you been here before?”

“Yep, I vomited just there, one night when I was drunk,” I say and point at my puking spot’s direction.

“Oh, I see,” Tae Won says, lowering his head to stare at the steps he’s taking. Tae Won seems disappointed. I wonder if it’s because I’ve been here before or because of my trashy past. I don’t know why, but there are moments where I don’t want to shine in his eyes in any way what’s so ever.

There’s nothing good about me, and I don’t desire him to get acquainted with the mirage of some good girl. I’m a hazard, and that’s how Tae Won should see me, but then he looks at me like he is now and makes me wish I was a Disney Princess.

“ㅡEh, I’m leaving Seoul tomorrow.”

“WHAT.”

People turn, a few giggle, and others sneer as I’ve just disturbed the public peace.

“What?” I repeat.

My reaction appears to please him, “I’ll be gone a day, maybe two days; I don’t know,” he says and scratched the back of his head, ” I haven’t been there for a while; she’ll be mad.”

“Oh, I see.”

Tae Won stops on the spot, “what do you see?”

Even in the dark, his eyes shine as he gives me a curious stare.

“Well, I understand, you and Soo Hee needㅡ.”

“It’s not Soo Ae.”

“Then-.”

“It’s my grandma; I’ve been neglecting her. I’m ashamed of myself.”

“You’re her grandson; I’m sureㅡ.”

I stop as I realize the gesture I was about to do. My hand is in midair; I can’t believe I am about to pat Tae Won on the back.

Tae Won stares sideways as he watches my hand. We’ve never touched, I mean intently. He has hugged and held me in a knight in shining armor stance. We’re wannabe friends, gosh, I guess once again I got carried away.

I try to camouflage by stretching both hands above my head, but I know he isn’t buying it from his expression. Someone bury me, please. Where’s the shovel I’ll DIY if I have to, I’m desperate, and I feel the heat rushing to my cheeks, meaning thousands of freckles are going to blossom in an instant.

There’s no use in me trying to look good in front of him. We carry on walking and sit down at a spot left vacant by a couple.

“Thank you.”

Tae Won frowns, “for what?”

“For telling me you are leaving, but you know you could have messaged me.”

“Ah, kugaeㅡ.”

Jane, you idiot, you made the man lose his English.

Tae Won purses his lips and looks at the sky. I can tell he’s uncomfortable, and suddenly so am I. For some reason, this outing is different, I don’t know if it’s the particles of pollution in the air, but there’s a particular mood that erupts in me. I feel my cheeks heat up again. Why?

I need to get home to analyze this moment in replay because my brain functions like a camera self-timer. I’ll understand everything that occurred here in an hour or so, right now I’m swimming in a pool of confusion so dense I feel like a dunce.

Tae Won laughs, “you’re so different.”

“From what?”

“From everyone, I’ve never met anyone like you.”

“Is that a compliment?”

He nods.

His directness is one of the features I like about Tae Won, he doesn’t beat around the bush, and it helps the hopeless simple-minded girl I am.

In moments like this, I wish I could be the type of girl he would fancy.

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