What I Learn from Eating With Mi Won.

30 May

I wanted to share a little bit more about why I felt so deeply affected by the LIRR massacre that I was sobbing and holding on tight to Mi Kyung’s, and now Mi Won’s friend Juey at last night’s movie viewing. Mi Kyung Kim was one of the six who were murdered on the 5:33 train, and I was Mi Won’s boss. I watched this young woman, tiny and beautiful, become as strong as steel while at the same time, searching for the joy in life. Yesterday, for example, she insisted that we try some of the delicacies at the Madison Square food festival and have little bits of this and that. We sat at a table under large umbrellas where we ate treats such as curried chicken empanadas and a dessert she specifically wanted me to try–an, I hope I remember correctly, arrancini? It was an Italian-style rice ball, but this one was filled with Nutella and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Delicious. Of course. Rain was pouring down, but we didn’t care–we talked and talked. And then, there was another unusual market she’d heard about in Tribeca, so we hopped on the subway and dashed downtown before the movie premier, drank tea, and met up with her friend Juey. I love going out with Mi Won because she loves adventures and sometimes eating a single meal can involve going to four places, each for something different–maybe soup dumplings, or rice pudding, or to Beecher’s Cheese on 20th Street where they make their own cheese in plain view of the customers in large metal vats. “You command, I obey,” I tell her when we go on these outings. They are never disappointing. As I sat near her yesterday, and saw her eyes glittering with tears (feeling faintly jealous because I never saw anyone cry so beautifully–no red cheeks, runny nose, or any of that nonsesnse) on film, a thought came to my mind, one that I haven’t yet asked her. I wondered if a little taste of every delicious experience she has is dedicated to Mi Kyung, if there isn’t a little part of her that isn’t offering up the gift of joyful life, a life that must not be wasted, to her sister. I must confess that I feel a little bit of that toward Mi Kyung, and also toward the thousands of people whose ashes were scattered in our hair when we worked downtown after 9/11, as the fires burned for months. When I am with Mi Won, I sometimes feel not just alive, but FIERCELY alive. Watching her suffer was–has been–still is–terrible, and yet her incredible strength of character, her will, her courage, make me think I am blessed to have such a friend, to remind me of the beauty in our problematic, difficult, unsafe and fragile world.


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