June 16th, 2007: After 11 months of emails and myspace (!!!) messages, HCB and I had our first date.
Halfway through our long correspondence—while I was in London and he was in California—I was shocked to realized that I was falling in love with him. I felt foolish and too young because only a silly 21-year-old would waste his time and energy like that. After all, I’d only really met the idea of him: a brilliant, sweet, nerdy grad student who would, of course, never return my feelings. Not wanting to make a fool of myself, I kept quiet about it and just enjoyed the emails we exchanged three or four times a week.
Then, late one night, it snowed in London. My fancy European friends and I were playing grownup and having a wine and cheese party when the snow started. Giddy from drink and too much conversation, we ran out to the street and had a snowball fight along the bank of the Thames. Over an hour later, spent but elated, I walked home in the snow, leaving behind a lonely trail of footprints and thinking about Christian. I wanted to tell him about my night. I wanted to talk and walk and throw snowballs. I wanted to show him my life. I wanted him there.
When I got home, I wrote his name in the snow and took a picture to send him. It was the most forward thing I’d done yet—our correspondences had thus far been above reproach—but I was drunk and pining. I sent it off and, seven months later, when I came home for good, I got a chance to meet the real HCB: a brilliant, sweet, nerdy (at times infuriating) grad student who felt about me how I felt about him.
Six years and 5500 miles later, I was living in Seoul when it started to snow again. I wandered through the city taking pictures until I ended up at the bank of the Hangang, again thinking about Christian.
I’d feel like a gross exhibitionist if I got too gushy in this kind of public forum, so let me just say this:
I’ve followed you to Korea because you’re my soulmate. You’re the strongest, most loving person I’ve ever met, and in all honesty, I adore you more with each new chapter. I look forward to all the years we have ahead of us.
I love you, HCB.