I must’ve been the first person to run out of tonight’s rehearsal once the director dismissed us. It was nearly 15 after 9 by the time we ended our rehearsal, which meant I had little to no time to get ready for dinner with Sahim. I ran out of the venue toward the hotel that we were all staying in; good thing it wasn’t too far from the venue and I knew where I was actually going.
I ran into the hotel room, hoping I was able to get to the elevator in time. Maybe Sahim isn’t waiting at my door thinking I stood him up or something. Maybe he knows that our director is a literal nutcase. I wanted to believe that just maybe I had some time to change and clean before Sahim showed up, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if I tried talking to Sahim tomorrow at rehearsal and have him brush me off, thinking I ditched him for dinner.
I race out of the elevator and run to my room, quickly opening the door and entering it. Before I was able to turn on the lights, I immediately trip over my suitcase still full of luggage that I left on the ground. Face first; no protection whatsoever.
“Fuck!” I yelled out loud as I fell to the ground. I get up and feel a pain coming from my face. I walk into the bathroom to look in the mirror and see a cut brushed across my chin. I touched it, and of course, I winced in pain. What the hell were you expecting, Grace?
I didn’t have time to put 500 bruise creams on it for it to go away; I reached inside my bag of luggage and pull out a loose bandage. Something told me I needed to bring these. I slapped a bandage right on top of my chin, again wincing in pain.
“You know you’re accident-prone, right?” Sahim said as I tripped on my way to the rehearsal space; of course, I was late. He extended his arm out to help me get up from the ground.
“Please,” I began to say as I brushed myself off. “If you don’t see me fall at least once at every rehearsal, then that’s not really me.”
“Another Grace?” Sahim teased. “That’s too much Grace to look after.” I looked at Sahim and rolled my eyes, his award-winning smile flashes across his face. “Are you going to be okay for rehearsal?”
“Of course,” I answered as I started to walk toward the rehearsal space with Sahim. “As long as I don’t bruise, I’m fine.”
There’s a knock heard on my front door. I run out of the bedroom, tying my hair up in a messy bun after drowning it in dry shampoo. Aimee had told me that I must’ve been living under a rock for not realizing that dry shampoo is the savior for all dancers who sweat out their hair. Personally, I don’t like to use it but for the sake of saving time, it has to be done.
As soon as I straighten myself out, I open the door to see Sahim standing there. 9:30pm; he must’ve known.
“What happened to 9 o’clock on the dot?” I teased Sahim as he smiled.
“Something told me that you weren’t even here at 9,” Sahim teased back. The smile fades once he looks at my face. “You need something for that burn?” Sahim asked. I touched my chin out of reflex, once again wincing in pain.
“Nonsense,” I answered back. “You know that it wouldn’t be me if this type of stuff didn’t happen.” I tried to play it as cool as possible even though my chin was on fire like it was some sort o burn. I grabbed my coat from the chair and began to put it on. “Let’s go, I’m starving.”
The good thing about the area was that there was always a late-night spot open to eat. I had done my research before coming here; it was only right to get familiar with my surroundings since I’ll be here for the next year. Sahim was quite shocked that I knew the area so well already, but the secret of looking like you know where you’re going is to stay close to home… or the hotel that you are calling home for the time being.
Sahim and I ended up going to a Korean beef restaurant nearby that was still open. We were seated at a small table, surrounded by a small grill for us to grill the meat once we ordered. There was a long period of silence between us; I couldn’t tell if it was because we don’t have anything to talk about or if we were just exhausted from tonight’s rehearsal.
“This is a nice spot,” Sahim started to say. “How’d you know about it?”
“It’s always good to do a little research,” I answered. “It’s important as a traveler to be familiar with your surroundings.” The waitress came back to our table with drinks to start off with.
“You must travel a lot then,” Sahim said, taking a sip of water from his glass.
“This is my first time out of the country, but I did some traveling in the US,” I explained to Sahim. The truth of the matter was that my mom was the one that suggested I do some research before my trip here. Before I left, she told me that the one thing she wished someone told her when she was in India for the dance production she was a part of was that she had no idea where to go or who to ask for directions on her free time. She emphasized the fact that she ate solely convenience store food before actually being comfortable enough in her surroundings to explore.
“Oh? Anywhere story worthy?” Sahim asked. I looked at him and it was no surprise he was looking directly back at me. He was inventive, not really aware of his surroundings besides the fact I was sitting in front of him. It was kinda cute since I doubt that Sahim really know what’s going on around him. He looks so focused on the words coming out of my mouth. Sahim has always been that way, but I never seen it happen so up close before.
“Not really,” I laughed as I responded. “I just have family across the country that I tend to visit.” Sahim nodded his head and noticed the waitress coming back with the raw meat on a platter. I bowed in front of me and thanked her in Korean. I looked up to see Sahim trying to figure out what to do with the platter of raw meat in front of us.
“Sahim,” I giggled as I watched him examine the grill at the middle of our table. He quickly looked up at me once I called his name. “You never grilled meat before?”
“Not like this,” Sahim answered. I laughed and took the meat platter from Sahim, starting up the grill and lining the pieces of meat on top of it. Sahim watched me as I did so. “Did you research how to do this as well?”
“Ha ha,” I deadpanned. “I’m just well cultured.” Sahim laughs at my response as he grabs my hand holding the tongs.
“I’ll do it,” Sahim insisted. I gave him the tongs and watched him flip over the pieces of meat. “So Grace,” he started to say as he was completing his task. “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
“Like what?” I asked as I watched the grill. Sahim looks up at me for the moment before going back to cooking the meat.
“How did you get into dance?” Sahim asked. I wasn’t surprised that was the question he was going to ask. I feel like you always ask someone that you work with that question; how did you come to this point in your life where we finally meet each other and enjoy each other’s company so much? I was used to questions like this; I even answered them when I was a lawyer.
“My mother is a world-renowned dancer,” I began. “She was a part of one of the original dance productions.”
“She got you into the craft?”
“No,” I answered back quickly. “I was introduced to dance young when my father put me into dance classes. I guess I just really enjoyed it to make it a career,” I explained. This was one of those situations where when you tell people in your life who don’t know about your past whatever you want to tell them about yourself. I didn’t want to get into the whole “my mom left me for her dance career” story. The more times I tell it, the more I have to sit back and close those open wounds and at this point in my life, I was tired having to do so.
“I guess it just runs in your blood,” Sahim responded. He began to remove the cooked meat off of the grill and place them in the plate before me. He begins to put more meat on the grill; I noticed that all of the meat he grilled was on my plate and none on his. I took an extra pair of chopsticks and take a piece of meat from my plate and hold it out towards Sahim. He looked up and smiled. He allows me to put the food into his mouth; I felt my face to get hot. I tried to change the subject to get the attention of of this… tension.
“How about you?” I asked as I started to put some garnish with the meat on my plate. “Tell me about Sahim before he got the tech job for the dance world’s most famous production.” My comment makes Sahim laugh.
“Well, I grew up in St. Louis, oldest of 4,” Sahim began to explain. “I moved to California for school to study film. I helped with lighting in a couple of short films here and there, but this is something I didn’t expect to get.”
“How’d you find out about the production?” I asked, genuinely curious. Sahim smiled and laughed a little; I’m guessing there’s more to the story.
“My mentor,” Sahim began to say. “Ex-mentor. She had suggested that I apply for the job.” Sahim finished grilling the last of the meat, placing some on his plate before putting the last piece on mine.
“Ex-mentor? What happened?” I asked as I continued to eat. I didn’t realize how comfortable I was getting because of the questions I was now asking Sahim. He looked at me before answering, but I immediately saw his face shift; maybe he was uncomfortable talking about it. “I’m sorry if it’s too private or-“
“No, no,” Sahim interrupted to answer. He took a deepbreath before saying anything further. “She was my ex.” I raised my eyebrows, not expecting that to be the answer. I nodded and continued to eat without responding. Sahim laughed at my lack of response. “Did you not date a choreographer or someone that was in the same field you worked in?”
“Please,” I began to say. “I was engaged to a lawyer.” I quickly looked at Sahim after saying that; I didn’t realize I was telling someone something that I tried to keep in my past. Sahim looks at me with wide eyes; he clearly did not see that one coming.
“Wait, you used to be a lawyer?” Sahim asked. Ironically, he doesn’t mention the fact that I was once engaged, y’know, suppose to get married at one point. In all honesty, it’s easier to explain my broken-off engagement to new people than explaining how me, a dancer, was once a damn lawyer.
“Yeah,” I answered shortly, hoping to not get into too much detail about it. “I went to law school after college and got licensed.” I could tell by the look on Sahim’s face that he was thinking the same thing everyone else did. I sighed, knowing I needed to explain myself further. “I was a lawyer for two cases, but realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing.”
“What made you want to be a lawyer?” Sahim kept his eyes on me as he asked me all these questions.
“My father was in law enforcement, so I grew up around a lot of it and was interested in pursuing it,” I answered, finishing up my plate of food. Sahim nodded his head, continuing to eat his food until he was finished. Both of us leaned back in our chairs, clearly full from our meal.
Shortly after, our witness comes to our table to gather our empty plates. I look up to the waitress before she leaves to ask her for our bill.
“Cheong-guseoleul bad-eul su iss-eulkkayo?” I asked in Korean, in which the waitress nodded her head and said she will return to our table with the check. I bowed and thanked her as she left the table. Sahim looks at me and takes in what just happened. He laughs in a way that he’s shocked, yet not surprised that he just witnessed what just happened.
“When did you learn Korean?” Sahim asked as he flashed his award winning smile. God, he’s adorable.
“Back in college,” I said, altering my past to not only make other people believe it as true, but to also make myself believe it as well. “I just took it as an elective, but who knew it would come in handy after all those years?”
“I’m… learning a lot about you tonight,” Sahim responded as he smiled.
“Am I everything you thought I’d be?” I playfully teased just so I can see his smile stay on his face for a little bit longer. Sahim plays with his tongue inside his mouth, clearly thinking about what to say next.
“You completely surpassed my expectations,” Sahim flirted back, in which I felt my face get hot. I laughed at his response, nodding my head. Sahim continues to look at me as he leans forward on the table to get closer to me.
“Say something to me in Korean,” Sahim said. I looked at him as he smiled in a flirtatious way.
“Say something,” I said as I sat across the table from Jamie at dinner. He looks up to me, confused.
“What?” Jamie asked.
“In Korean,” I answered. “Say something in Korean.”
“Dangsin-eun wanbyeoghabnida,” Jamie softly said to me. “You are perfect.”
“Grace?” Sahim called out. I looked at Sahim and see that the smile has faded; he looks concerned and worried.
“Oh I’m… sorry,” I said, trying to get my composure back. “mianhaeyo.” Sahim smiled, looking relieved that I was okay. He gets up from his seat and extends his arm toward me.
“Let’s go back to our hotel,” Sahim mentioned. Back to our hotel; oh how romantic does that sound?