You couldn’t pronounce Casper – (the friendly ghost) as a small child- and you called him “caspital.” You dressed up as Caspital for Halloween.
You never learned how to write in cursive.
You were born in Illinois and had cornfields in your backyard.
When you were little, making up songs in your head was a game for you- you’d try to write a tune before the traffic light changed or before the next kid up kicked the kickball.
You had a size 11 “bladefoot” as you called it. Your outer toes all seemed to curve inward. You said it was the kind of foot runners had and that it helped them go faster. You hated running.
You loved the movies “Rudy” and “Shawshank Redemption.” They are two of the movies that made you cry. You were always rooting for the underdog.
You always left the little plastic cover on the screen of your cell phones until it finally ripped off to protect the phone. You got mad if I said, “Hey why don’t you just take this off?” It’s still on your iPhone I’m using now.
You called me a “smarty pant” instead of smarty “pants.” I thought that was funny.
You started a club called the “Push-up Club” in college just because any new club on campus got a free pizza.
When you were little, you were jealous of your older brother’s new wooden desk, so you carved his name on it in giant letters.
After you were attacked and stabbed on the subway a few years ago, I came into the hospital the next morning to find you sitting up in bed reading a Bible your brother had left you. “I figure if I’m going to thank God for having mercy on my life, I might as well do it properly,” you said.
When we went to a library or bookstore, I could always find you looking at the Japanese comic books. Your grandfather had given you a collection of comics called Treasure Island when you first went to Korea. Those comics and soccer were the ways you connected with him before you learned Korean.
You hated the flavor of sesame (a staple in Korean food), and wouldn’t eat a roll with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
In 2001, you insisted on taking a trip to see the first apartment you lived in Illinois by yourself. I had to loan you money and I was angry because it was right after September 11th but you said it was something you had to do. You visited your old elementary school and church too. The people living in your old apartment, were going to call the police when you knocked on the door. There is a picture of the father yelling at you from the door.
You hated what you called “angry eyebrows” on women who had them plucked or waxed. When I started getting mine threaded at one point you said, “Just don’t get those ‘angry eyebrows’ …I hate those.”
You always joked telling me you wished you’d chosen to play the piccolo when carrying around your large cello.
You always had extra napkins in your pockets or bag- I think ’cause they were free you always took them.
You switched from the violin to the cello because a friend of your moms came to your parents’ house and told you to stand up straighter and then you decided you’d just rather sit down and play an instrument.
You had synesthesia. Music notes were colors in your mind.
You were better at puzzles and Scrabble than me, and amazing at LEGOS.
You seemed to always smell pot everywhere we went. “I smell pot,” you’d tell me.
You also always thought a lot of unattractive women were men dressed as women and you’d tell me, “See that woman. That’s a man.” I always felt so bad for those women.
When your dad sent you to buy him cigarettes in Korea as a kid, you’d smoke one or two on the walk back home. You were around nine I think.
You prided yourself on having soft, clean skin because you rubbed all of the “ddeh” (dead skin) off in the shower with the pads of your fingers.
You hated when people say, “Excuse me,” because you said it really means, “Get the hell out of my way.” You forbid me to say that in our house.
You liked your bagels toasted and whole milk in your coffee.
You proclaimed that little girl from the Welch’s Grape Juice commercial wasn’t cute at all.
You loathed Kramer on Seinfeld and Dwight on The Office- the annoying characters that are always screwing everything up.
You said Morgan Freeman was the narrator way too often and we’d always joke about that.
You wanted to name our child MacGyver.
You grew up going to garage sales and still loved flea markets and thrift stores where you found the best deals.
You always covered your ears if we were outside and an ambulance or fire engine passed by…something people who go to Berklee School of Music do.
You told your mom you applied to Julliard and got rejected, but you never did apply- you didn’t want to do classical music.
And when you got up from the bed, there was always a few coins that fell from your pocket.
The nickel or dime that I’d find later and think of you.