Thursday, June 29, 2006

벌서 일년

When I was teaching at the Lykeion Language school in Apkujong-dong I had a friend that was a true soul mate. Jaewon was an artist in the purest sense, interpreting her world in new and intriguing ways every day in words or images on paper for the world to see.

Once I lent her the Tori Amos album "Little Earthquakes" and she responded by writing a series of 3 or 4 essays that described her visceral response to the music and the voice that sang the words she couldn't understand.

It was stunning how well she caught the subtleties of the moods and feelings that swirl in deep and dark colors through the songs on that album. The power someone has over us when they can evoke our tears, how little tremors can show the fragility of the human psyche and rip it into pieces.

I never paid a lot of attention to the lyrics of the song 벌서 일년 (Already One Year), by the Korean R&B duo Brown Eyes. I always took it as an affirmation of the wonder of a love that has blossomed over one year and remains strong and true:

"I believe in you I believe in your mind / 벌서 일년이 지났지만"

Which translates loosely as:

"I believe in you I believe in your mind
Although one year has already passed."

It seemed to perfectly encapsulate a year of bliss before even a moment of doubt clouds a "new" love - or in this case a well-worn love that seems fresh and invigorating even as the months have gone by. This line seemed purely distilled and ever so bittersweet to me.

But it is never so simple! The mind plays tricks with us, not able to cope with how the tune has hit us directly in the heart and soul and totally bypassed the brain. I sat down with the lyrics to 벌서 일년 tonight and tried as best as I could to translate them - some lines stymied me even after I dug a dictionary out.

But the bottom line is that the sweet beauty of the song comes in pain, longing and doubt - as is so often the case. There is already a ring on her finger, but that doesn't make the songwriter nearly as sad as just looking into her warm eyes. I am not sure that he ever told her he loved her...if one year has passed then that is one year he has waited for her.

I wish so much that I could get the full picture of this song, to confirm my clumsy translation and know where the sad memories were birthed. In the words of another bard:

"It's gotta be here
In your spider-web alphabets
Did I read it all wrong?
Or have I just not gotten it yet?"

On June 26 I celebrated a birthday and an anniversary of loss - or at least one small but important increment in a long and painful process of loss. 벌서 일년. Already one year has passed, and my head keeps telling my heart not to believe in you, to give up on that belief in your mind, heart and soul.

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