I turned on the lights to my apartment. Everything still looks the same for the most part; I could tell where Mina and Lia would come in and clean up the dust that gathered here when I was gone. Is it crazy to feel like I am a stranger in my own home? Within the last couple of years, I’ve been out of this space more than I’ve been in it, and it’s unbelievable to think that I’m here for good.
I dropped my luggage near the doorway and walked towards the living room. I sat on the couch, staring at the blank television screen. I look around and rub my eyes with my hands; I should just go to sleep and get the rest, but somehow my body knew this wasn’t going to be a sleepful night.
I keep replaying what Ari told me at her apartment. “If you care about her, you would let her go”. Did something happen with Grace? Did she leave New York to live a new life? Did I drive her away from where her home was in New York? I couldn’t help but think this was my fault. Maybe I ruined her life, confusing her every time I had to leave to come back to Korea. Maybe she didn’t trust me anymore for me to stay with her, protect her, be with her in ways that she needed to be. I shut my eyes at the thought until I heard my phone vibrating on the coffee table. I open my eyes, looking at the lit-up screen. It’s Kevin, and for once I don’t pick up the phone. What is there to say? Hi, yeah no I’m actually in Korea right now, so I know how late it is and you should’ve just called in the morning. I don’t even bother. I just get up from the sofa and walk out of the living room and upstairs into my bedroom. The sheets are untouched. It was like a ghost was living here all those months I was away. But I’m here for good, and I guess I have to make this feel like home as much as possible from now on.
I closed my eyes as soon as I got into bed. Maybe I was exhausted as much as I should’ve been.
“Jamie!” I heard Grace calling me from the kitchen. I get up from my office and walk to her. I smile as she holds our child. “Can you watch the baby while I run upstairs and grab some more kitchen towels?”
“Of course,” I walk towards Grace as she hands me the baby. Grace kisses me on the cheek and books it upstairs. I smile, knowing that Grace was probably trying to get these towels for the longest of time, but somehow our child clings onto her at every second of the day. I look at our baby and smile. I bounced them in my arms as they play with a little puppy toy. I walk around the apartment, having conversations with them as if they can answer me back. They somewhat do, in giggles and in noises.
“You’re helping eomma cook dinner, agi?” I asked. They coo and babble, and I can’t help but smile wide. “Eomma and appa love you so much,” I continued. I didn’t realize Grace was standing at the doorway of the kitchen, smiling and looking at us interact. I look back at her and smiled until an extremely loud voice surrounded the apartment. The baby started crying, Grace began to panic, and I had no idea how to make things better–
I shot up from my bed, literally sweating profusely. I look at the alarm clock next to me, ringing viciously to wake me up. I turn it off and catch my breath. It wasn’t that long after that I get up and begin walking back downstairs to the living room area. Before walking to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, I hear my phone vibrate again on my coffee table. I walked over to it, not even looking at the screen to see who it is.
“yeoboseyo?” I answered, sleepily. My eyes widen when I realized it was Kevin on the other line.
“Hyung, I’ve been trying to call you all day to check on you! I mean I can get the message that you and Grace were probably busy but–“
“Kevin,” I stopped him from continuing. “I just woke up. I’m not in America. I’m back in Korea.”
“What?” Kevin sound genuinely surprised. “What do you mean you’re back in Korea?”
“I got home late last night.”
“What about Grace though?” Kevin questioned. I was getting angry at the conversation.
“Ya, I haven’t even been home for less than 24 hours and you are hounding me about Grace. There is no more Grace. Grace fucking disappeared from the face of the Earth! Now please, can I enjoy my day without being reminded of the woman that ruined my fucking life?” I immediately hung up the phone afterward. I wasn’t even hungry anymore, nor wanting coffee after that call. I rubbed my eyes with my hands, instantly exhausted from the day once again. I couldn’t stay in the house any longer. Instead, I went upstairs to get dressed and leave the apartment for the day.
I walked outside and immediately felt a wave of anxiety across my body. How did I feel like a foreigner in my own country? I couldn’t even remember where the nearest coffee shop was, I couldn’t even remember how much a cup of coffee was in Korea anymore. I was so used to paying things in United States Dollars, I completely forgot the Won currency here in Korea. I felt completely lost. In a sense, I could hear my mother’s voice in my head with her worries for me becoming too westernized and American. What can I say though? I felt more at home in New York than I ever did in Korea.
Eventually, I make it to the nearest coffee shop that I could find in the area. The smell of brewing coffee woke me up. I never knew how much I really relied on coffee to get me through the day. I walk up the counter, reading the menu on the wall while I wait on line. I looked at my phone fro the first time since Kevin called me, not realizing he sent messages after our conversation.
Kevin: What the hell happened in America?
Kevin: Hyung, don't do this again.
Kevin: She's not Seohyun.
I couldn’t stand Kevin metalling in my business anymore. I am trying to just move on with my life; it’s what everyone wants me to do anyway. My family wanted me back in Korea. Ari wanted me to leave Grace alone. The universe wanted things to happen this way. I put my phone back in my coat pocket and finally reach the counter. I ordered a hot coffee and took it to one of the tables in the cafe. I look around, taking in the atmosphere, trying to get comfortable. But, I never really do.
I just feel like one person in a country that doesn’t feel like home anymore.