I forgot what it was like to be in a noraebang– I mean, a karaoke room.
The last time was for Grace’s 26th birthday. It was my first time being in New York, and I had only known Grace for a couple of months at the time. It was also my first time ever wearing something so casual; she specifically requested for me to wear something that wasn’t something along the lines of “slacks and a button-down shirt”. To come and think of it, I’ve had many firsts back in New York with Grace.
I wonder if any of her firsts were also with me, back in New York.
“Jamie?” Grace snapped her fingers in my face. I looked down at her, immediately coming back to the present, gathering my surroundings. Grace was standing there with her hair tied up in a bun, wearing a floral, red summer dress.
“Huh? Sorry, what was that?” I asked. Grace rolled her eyes at me.
“1 hour or 2 hours for the karaoke room?” Grace asked. I couldn’t pinpoint what was bothering Grace, but Grace felt a little lost in thought tonight. I don’t know if coming out tonight was the best decision to make.
“1 hour is fine,” I answered. “We can grab something to eat afterward if you’re hungry.” Grace nodded her head and let the person in the front counter. The woman looked up from the computer to look at us both.
“Would you like a room with the mini-bar in it?” the woman asked. “It’s quite popular these days when people come to the karaoke room–“
“No alcohol please,” I quickly answered. “Uhm, a regular room is fine.” The woman nodded her head and gave us one of the keys to the karaoke room. I felt my face getting red. We thanked the woman and proceeded to walk to our karaoke room.
Once we got into the room, the LED lights were blinking and shining all throughout the little space. It reminded me so much of noraebang and how the guys and I would drink rounds of soju before coming to one of these rooms. It’s times like this when I get sort of homesick.
But then Grace turns around and smiles; all teeth and gums. I can’t help but smile back. She picked up one of the microphones on the table and held it up in the air.
“Okay, I’m ready,” Grace confidently said. I grabbed the tablet from the table and started looking through the song selections.
“Okay, so… whistle notes and high notes?” I teased. Grace widened her eyes and laughed.
“Jamie,” Grace called out my name. This time, the way she called out my name felt like comfort. It was the way she would emphasize the ‘e’ in my name, like a little child not getting what they wanted. But she knew that when she said my name like that, she always would win. She knew she had that affect on me, even if she didn’t realize it.
“Okay, okay!” I caved in. Aigoo. I looked through the song selections and come across a song I was actually familiar with. I pressed play, and the screen went black. Grace looked at the screen until the title of the song came up. She immediately laughed.
“Dreams by Fleetwood Mac?” Grace turned around and asked.
“It’s the only song I recognized,” I answered. Grace started laughing, but immediately turned around to start singing the song. Her voice is soft; completely different from her actual speaking voice. It was sweet and gentle; traits of Grace that I wished she was more comfortable in showing to the world.
Grace is wearing a “Birthday Girl” sash and crown on her head, singing the lyrics and dancing around the small karaoke room.
“Oh, thunder only happens when it’s raining!” Grace sang into the microphone. I clap along to the beat, with a huge smile on my face. Grace turns to me and grabs my arm to stand up and dance along with her.
“Players only love you when they’re playing!” we both sing into our microphones, completely off the original key. The lights circled around us all night.
“Thunder only happens when it’s raining,” Grace sways side-to-side as she sings, concentrating on the lyrics on the screen. I grab the other microphone from the table and stand up, grabbing Grace’s arm to make her dance. She looks at me, first confused at what I’m doing.
“Players only love you when they’re playing!” I sing, completely off-key, which makes Grace laugh.
“What are you–” I pointed towards the screen and cut her off.
“The lyrics!” I said, in which Grace faced forward and continued to singing the song. I watched her sing the song; I couldn’t stop staring at her like it’s something– the only thing– that’ll keep me going.
“That was really fun,” Grace said as she took a sip of her cola on the boardwalk bench. I smiled at her.
“Sorry we couldn’t find something to eat earlier,” I said, in which Grace shook her head.
“That’s what the boardwalk’s for; you can find anything open on the boardwalk,” Grace reassured. I don’t say anything back, I just watch Grace eat a slice of pizza with a can of cola. I don’t remember the last time I saw Grace eat as much as I have the last couple of times we’ve spent time together. It’s relieving, to say the least, that I don’t have to worry if Grace is starving herself and lying about it. I instantly become sad thinking about that time in our lives, and I guess Grace notices it as she turns around. I immediately throw a smile on my face.
“Whatcha thinking about?” Grace asked. Grace knew I couldn’t hide anything from her, yet alone lie to her. But I had to, just this time, because this is the most time I’ve spent with Grace since she left New York, and I don’t want to scare her away. Not again.
“How beautiful the water looks at night,” I pointed out towards the beach. The moon was reflecting on the water, making the dark water almost look like a deep, dark purple. Grace looks out towards the water, taking a moment to see it.
“It’s beautiful, but nice try,” Grace said as she turns her head back towards me. “Tell me what’s really on your mind.”
“Dreams,” I answered. “The song from the karaoke room. I remember the song from the last time we went to karaoke, back in New York.”
“Really?” Grace seemed genuinely shocked that I remembered. I was sort of shocked that she didn’t remember. I nodded my head to answer her. Grace laughed and took a sip of her cola once more.
“You are the only person I know that remembers the little things,” Grace stated. “I can’t even remember what I had for dinner last night.”
I laughed and looked at her while she looked out towards the ocean again. I only remember the little things because they are important to me, and sometimes it’s those things that keep me going.