The story of how we met is one of extraordinary twists in timing.
Long before we even knew each other, our paths ran parallel. I was seeking a lifestyle that was more suitable for one trying to finish his first novel; also, I wanted more fulfilling teaching experiences after a year and a half stint of substitute teaching in California. Nicole moved her life here for a break from academia, having just finished her master’s at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Both of us were looking for a gateway to travel the extensive lands of Asia.
We both arrived in Korea in the exact same week of August 2006. In fact, we even worked for the same company and even attended the same training session in Seoul. But we did not meet then. The time was not yet right.
After the training session, I went back to Busan; I eventually would date another girl (a Canuck) from the Seoul area for about a year. Nicole lived in Seoul and became part of a climbing group, in which she met not only her first Korea boyfriend (also a Canuck) but also a large group of climbers from the Busan area.
Our lives progressed for two years in Korea without ever crossing paths. After I finished my second contract south of Seoul, I got a job offer at a university there; I accepted it begrudgingly (Seoul is a city that’s great to visit but not to live, in my opinion). Just before going to the US for the summer, though, I interviewed at Silla University in Busan (a much smaller, less polluted, more picturesque metropolis on the ocean). I did not initially get the job. However, Nicole did. On the other hand, her boyfriend, who had also applied, did not. Therefore, Nicole decided to stay in Seoul. A week after Silla told me I did not get the job, they called me, telling me the position was now available. I returned to Busan in August 2008 with the much-sought-after university job.
Nicole stayed at her Seoul National University job but was a frequent visitor to Busan. As fortune would have it, I worked with a few of her rock-climbing friends. When Amanda had an American Thanksgiving party at her apartment (in the same apartment building I lived in), I attended and stuck my nose in the kitchen to see if I could help. Nicole was there; no one ever looked so smokin’ hot sautéing carrots.
As the night progressed, Nicole and I didn’t get much of a chance to talk; however, I did take note of her attentiveness to the levels of my wine and coffee. Finally, I got the chance to start a conversation with her at the end of the night. But she passed out, tired from lugging a 20 pound turkey down from Seoul. As I would later find out, she was rather unimpressed with my smoking habit and my penchant for tapered jeans. However, something about my writerly persuasion led her to write an email. Her honesty and straightforward questions were disarming. Before I knew it, she came down at my behest and bid on me at a charity bachelor auction on December 13, 2008. She beat out a Korean cougar, jumping from 200,000 to 300,000 Korean won in a single bid. I have still to pay up on that date she won. I plan to take her deep sea fishing on our honeymoon in Thailand.