28 Apr 2011 5 Comments
NEW YORK LOVE STORY
Translated by Hà Kin and Curtis Norris
How do you describe the feeling of a person with marsh fever?
Covered by two wool blankets, mad heat radiating from my body, thick sweat running through my hair, first my sweater became soaked and then even the blankets. The room was sixty degrees, but I steamed myself up to over a hundred. It was so hot that I couldn’t breathe, but I felt that each bead of sweat that dropped relieved me of the “poisonous gas.”
At some point I got up like a sleepwalker and turned on a rock song. It was a long remix of the song, lengthened to over thirty-five minutes. It must have been the longest rock song ever, and listening to it seemed like falling into infinity. That song took me into a nightmare, probably because my hand was on my chest. All I remember is that I fell into a wandering desperation with no way to escape. It seemed like the end of the world.
I knew it was a dream, but I could not wake myself back to reality. Tears ran wet mixing with my sweat. Terrible! The song finally finished and I floated into another desperation.
This time various non-sense images went running crazily through my mind. My grandmother was still alive and she was cooking rice under the hill, and under the hill was my house. Then I was wandering on the island, down Thirty-fourth Street. His face was there, following. I wandered some more and then there it was, the card. At this point I fought to gain control of my wandering mind. I focused on the image with all my strength, willing it into clarity. I remembered two things quite clearly. I recalled the print color, a kind of silver-blue. Then I remembered the email; it was his name, perhaps with a hyphen, and he used AOL. The number five was also there on the card, part of the address of his office, maybe Fifty-seventh Street or Sixty-fifth, also, yes definitely, Third Avenue. That was it! If I could remember Third Avenue then I could check all the dental offices on that street that contained a number five in their address!
With that revelation the fever suddenly broke. Gradually reviving, my body felt itchy all over. My head was heavy and my throat dry, burning and so bitter. I gave a great cough.
I felt wisdom returning. Perhaps I had just survived a convulsive fit! I should be able to take off one blanket now. I reached for the mirror and saw a pale face lacking all vitality. I was looking into my silver bracelet, the silver turned into the color of rust. I felt revived, the desperation totally gone.
It was one thirty in the morning. My brother was still on the computer, wearily playing a video game. Glassily, I went over to him and asked to borrow the computer for some “business.” I wanted to write that apology for the doctor, and of course try to search out Ryan so I could email him and find the dental office where he worked.
My brother asked me if I was okay without giving up the computer. “It’s too late now,” he said. “Father said to turn off everything.” I was so mad, but couldn’t do anything. I could only write down my plan on a notepad and clip it carefully next to the computer.
I went to bed and tried to fall asleep again. I was so excited, willing the morning to come soon so that I could try out my experiment. I took an aspirin, lying back in my warm bed, full of hope again. Having hope and not giving up so soon was like torturing myself, but sometimes it is fun to have something challenging. Why not, I thought. Try it! If it is successful it will be something so interesting in my life.
But I could not sleep at all, partly because I had already slept a lot during the fever, but also because of my excitement. I barely dozed at all until my mother woke up at seven in the morning. Immediately, I jumped up as well and ran to the computer. My mother was shouting, “Hey, go take a rest! Put on the socks! You make me tired!”
I ignored her and waited an eternity for the computer to start up. Once Google came on I started searching his name. I didn’t remember the name exactly, so I just typed randomly all the letters I could remember figuring the most popular names would be revealed. Of course, Google gave me millions of names similar to the ones I typed. I took a chance with the most popular one.
If my dream was correct, then his email address contained his first and last name, possibly with a hyphen. Not a big deal. I would just CC all the combinations. The right one would be sent and the others returned, right?
Shaking a little I wrote a short email, “Hi, this is Ha Kin. We met on the F train, remember? The one with the painful eyes. I have lost your card, so trying to contact you by chance. This is my email and my phone number. Please give me a ring if you receive this email. And also sorry if this email goes to somebody else’s address.” I pressed send.
I felt so happy while waiting to see the results of my experiment. If all four were returned then I would try another way, but if one got through then there was a good chance it was the right one! To distract myself I wrote a short email to the doctor to delay our lunch appointment to another day. Now nothing or no one would make me leave the house.
With the email to the doctor sent, I took a deep breath and clicked to check my inbox. My heart constricted painfully as the page finally opened.