November 9th, 2010. I waited nervously by the double-doors while keeping my focus across the dark garden and down the cement path. It was well past 11pm and I had been waiting in this empty, dimly-lit corridor for more than an hour. The quiet hour began at 11pm for the dormitories, so I had told her to meet me here. It had been raining that week, and the air was cold that night even though there was no more rain by that hour.
I was lucky to find that this corridor was open at night. I’d never been here that late before since I don’t live on campus anymore and when I actually did, my dorm was far away from here.
To my surprise, the building had really good acoustics. I didn’t expect that from such a small corridor. It was part of a central building with large halls for banquets in the middle of a field connecting a few dormitories. The main corridor was commonly used as a pathway to cut across the fields.
The actual corridor isn’t very long and there are double-doors at both ends. There is an arch in the middle of the hall separating the two ends, with wood-paneled walls that kept you from seeing anything on the other side except for the double-doors from most angles.
I had been practicing the guitar and singing on the ground by the windows, next to the double-doors at the far end. It was quite entertaining when random people passed through the corridor while I was in the middle of the song. A couple of people even cheered! I wondered if they actually thought that I did this often—playing guitar on campus publicly at night.
Back by the double-doors closer to her dorm, I was a nervous wreck. It wasn’t the first time I would be doing something like this, but it’s not as if I went around singing to people everyday. She told me she was coming, so now I had to tell myself to go through with it.
She appeared around the corner far down the path, from where I expected her to be coming from. But I didn’t expect the weakening shock that came through my whole body once I was able to confirm through the low visibility that it was, with no doubt, her coming.
Shuddering, I slowly backed into the corridor, closing the door, and eventually found my way back to my guitar that was lying on the far end by the windows. I slumped down on the floor and tried to keep my focus on the song but there were countless thoughts of what to say or how I were to bring it up going through my head. I just wanted to do it and it would all be okay. I knew I was capable and that anything could happen so that I would be ready no matter what.
But all of my focus and preparations went out the window all of a sudden, of course, when I heard the door opening on the other end of the corridor.
“It couldn’t be anyone but her!” I thought to myself. I had taken a long look around the field and down the paths before going back inside, and no one else would have arrived here before she would.
I brought myself back onto my feet. It was then that I heard footsteps approaching. The echoing sound of her footsteps was getting closer and growing louder, but that, too, was gradually drowned out by the furious pounding of my heart. I clenched my fists and gathered all of my courage.
She appeared under the central arch and out of the dark. There was a sudden calming the moment I saw her. At this point, I don’t recall my deafening heartbeats from earlier. There is just something about the way she looks back at you that would either calm a storm or create absolute chaos in your mind (I’m silly~). I think I got the better end that time.
“Hi!” she said. Suddenly, my song wasn’t going to be close to being as soothing in comparison anymore.
“Hi! It’s pretty difficult to find you!” I replied, referring to my previous attempts to meet up with her.
I had told her that I had prepared something for her, so I don’t think the guitar was too big of a surprise. I had asked her once before for a song that she would like to hear acoustically, to which she replied with, “Two Is Better Than One.” It’s an American Pop song, which I was kind of hoping for, by the band Boys Like Girls and singer Taylor Swift. I’m not too comfortable with singing and playing Korean songs to any of my Korean friends in person so I preferred a song in English.
The song wasn’t too new at the time, but because I am way too K-Pop-oriented, I had never heard of it. One night when I was up late, I decided to look it up. I ended up listening to it for hours until 5am. Something about the song gave me a special drive. The minor details of this song also applied to this girl.
I tried to imagine someone singing this to another and I could not even stand the thought of a girl singing this to me in person; a song with such lyrics and meaning. By the end of that night, I knew it was something I must do, and went to bed with such thoughts.
Again in the corridor, I made small talks and then asked her to sit down to my left by the windows (This randomly reminded me of a scene in the K-drama, You’re Beautiful, when the character Shinwoo sang to Go Mi Nam in the practice room. Again, I’m silly.) I reminded her of how I had prepared something, and then of the song choice she had given me. Her eyes widened a little with interest when I said that I had learned it. She said that her roommate recommended that song as well but she was also excited to hear it herself.
I collected myself silently for a moment. All this time I barely had control over what I was saying and was probably hardly making sense here and there. I began plucking the first notes of the song on my guitar, doing my best to keep focused. I looked straight ahead. My eyes closed, then opened again. My line of sight strayed along the wood-paneled wall in front of me and I began to sing.
Something about that moment made it personally magical to me. Maybe because I hadn’t planned this the night before, or maybe because the song is just that beautiful, and maybe I had really wanted her to hear it. I knew I had had enough time to think it over through my attempts to meet up with her. I knew that there was no better song at the moment, and the dim lighting along with the illumination of the street lamps in the distance coming through the windows along the corridor and the acoustics of the building just made everything seemed right, not to mention the person who was now next to me, here with her undivided attention; the person whom I could not turn to no matter what, because I knew that I would likely make a mistake the moment I saw her gaze back at me. I could only imagine what she was doing next to me at the time.
The song ended after what seemed like forever. She applauded and I laughed—due to nervousness, I’m sure. She asked me how long it took me to learn the song. I told her that it had only been a couple of days since I first heard it. She seemed very impressed, which made me feel quite good inside, to be honest.
I then brought up the real reason why I wanted to perform for her. There was a formal dance coming up and I was part of the committee that was planning it. We were allowed to bring a date and I wanted to ask her to be mine to this dance. After all, it was because of this organization that I met her. I remember going in circles before actually arriving at the point to ask her. I was still a nervous wreck by now, perhaps even worse than before the song, and I felt as if I was speaking extremely quickly with things that just came to my mind.
I admit that I am pretty obvious when it comes to these things, especially after doing something such as singing. I’ve realized this because by the time I arrive at the point of my plans, the person always seemed to have seen it coming (lol). But I never expect a “yes” and am always ready for utter denial. Actually I never expect anything because by the time I’ve asked the question, I’d already be out of my mind to think and process the response.
She had a cheerful look on her face, yet there was slightly something there that seemed to say, “Oh, you silly boy!” That or, “You sad, sad soul!” (XD)
At last, she said yes. Now don’t expect me to recall what happened next or what I managed to utter senselessly to carry on the subject because everything was a blur after her response. All I know is that I somehow got up with her, guitar in hand, and exited the building into the cold night. We walked quite a way along the cement path in the night where we talked about random things. As far as I would have liked her dorm to be, it was one of the closer ones across the field.
We arrived at the dormitory door under a bright light. She opened the door and turned around to me, said good night with a hug, and went inside. She gave one final wave goodbye with a smile as she turned the corner to go up the stairs.
I turned and headed for my car in the parking lot meters away. I couldn’t help but share some of my feelings at the moment through Twitter. I’m sure many people were confused by the messages at the time. The freezing night air wasn’t enough to get me back into my car. I stood on the sidewalk in front of it and looked up. It was the most clear night sky in more than a week due to the constant seasonal rain. All the clouds were gone and I could see the moon along with the stars. Somehow I knew that I would not forget this night. It’s worth a guess, but perhaps I also knew that I would be here one day writing all of this down (I probably didn’t foresee the all-nighter and writing this at 7am, though…). Well, I am sure anyone would have known that it was quite something to remember.
I got into the car and drove home slowly while listening to the song on my way back (I am listening to the song as I am writing this right now). I wanted to remember this night. Never before had someone made me feel the need to stop and catch my breath—not someone like this. And this was only the beginning.
The sky was the clearest the next morning, and I’m not one to notice the sky everyday. Perhaps I had been too busy burying my head in things from the past far too long that I never took the time to raise my head and see the skies. And here I was, with “my hands in my pockets and my head in a cloud” (or hereby, lack of). The skies remained clear for the remainder of that week.
—To be continued…
NOTE: The recorded events above have taken place about two months ago. The aftermath, which will also be recorded (hopefully), has also taken place.
If you would like to listen to the original song of “Two Is Better Than One,” click HERE