Ease

April 2012, Seoul.

I’m sitting across F at a barbecue joint.  Sitting on long wooden benches, spicy marinated chicken grilling over a nest of coals on the table between us.  We’re getting to know each other, but there are no first-date jitters.  We’re chatting and shooting the shit.  Normal human stuff.

The meat starts smoking, and I quickly grab the tongs to flip the meat.  It’s burnt.  I sheepishly smile at F and apologize.  An exasperated server appears from nowhere and pulls the long silver ventilation tube closer to our “extra-crispy” chicken.  The smoke whooshes away into the tube.  We eat around the charred bits of meat, and chat on.  Normally, I’d be embarrassed at this, the cardinal sin of Korean barbecue:  Thou shalt never burneth thy meat.  Curiously, though, in the face of this potentially date-ruining moment, I’ve never felt more at ease.

 

April 2017, France.

4 a.m.  I’ve just woken up from an awful nightmare, and I’m in tears.  Half-asleep, F slings his arm around me, and gently places a hand on my stomach.  His touch brings me back to this reality:  I’m snuggled up, cozy in bed, and safe.  Shhh, there’s no reason to freak out.

In a single loving gesture, he puts me at ease.

This time, every time.

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