I dragged myself out bed and picked up my usual breakfast, this time at a different convenience store, before popping into the local coffee shop. Of course my girl was working so I cleared the air:
“Last time (I) made a mistake.”
“I made a mistake??” she asked, frantic. (Remember that in Korean pronouns are optional.)
“Ah, no, I did! I said I live here but I meant I work here and live elsewhere.”
“Ah! I got it! I thought you meant you lived here but worked far away.”
I’m glad she remembered our previous conversation at all or this exchange would have been very awkward, like the time my mother made me apologize to someone who it turned out had already forgotten who I was.
“You came early today,” she noted then added in English, “early”.
“What’s your name?” I asked her, figuring we had reached that stage in our relationship.
“Violet. Same as the color purple in English.”
Yes, level unlocked! I’ve never been a person of routine (habit, yes) and usually avoid attending the same places in favor of pollinating all local businesses with my money, both here and in the USA. But I cannot tell you how important it is to have something regular in my life.
Violet knows me and is happy to see me, and I have a few other regulars that, unbeknownst to them, act like paperweights on days I feel I might scatter apart with a small breeze. There is the gym receptionist whose eyes sparkle and has always been so patient with me, the Jacksonville pharmacist who took a year to reveal his English skills, the other barista on my side of town where I have a punch card, the owner of the local thrift store who gives me tea on hot days when I shop.
Violet and I said goodbye to each other in English and Korean as I left the shop, my latte in hand.