Someday, when my son is my age he will have a craving from his distant youth. He will drive around Seattle, or Vancouver, or Billings, looking for a Korean restaurant. He’ll be driving around the city like a pregnant woman looking for deliverance in food.
I will exist in my son’s past then, by the time he comes to understand what I am saying. I hope that he remembers me as young, and still his favorite clown.
He’ll try to explain to his wife, as the rain beats down on the windshield, and he turns the car around for another pass at a possible Korean restaurant.
When they find one, he will be disappointed if there are chairs. And forks.
Only one food will satisfy: shabu-shabu. The steam of the broth will remind him of all the secrets of those early days. He will remember bus rides, being carried by his parents from the bus stop, up the hill. He will remember the little apartment, which seemed so big to him. He’ll recall the sound of the rice cooker popping with steam, eating with chop sticks, watching silly cartoons and spending the day with his mother.
He will remember his first bike, bright blue and shiny.
He’ll tell his wife and friends the same stories he told them the last time they went out for Korean.
One good meal will last for a while, until he gets homesick again. When he leaves the restaurant he’ll bow to the cashier and say, kamsamnida. And he’ll use his dad’s old joke and try to pay with Korean money .