Friday, December 31, 1999

found her

[Originally posted on March 29, 2023, at 6:25 p.m.]

Remember when I wrote this about my high-school crush?

Well... I feel like a horrible stalker, but... I found her. Took some searching, but this rainbow had a pot of gold at the end. The link goes to a video of her doing a presentation on US-Canadian joint operations in Alaska (where she lives; she's currently a doctoral candidate at U. Alaska Fairbanks; she's listed on a webpage—photo and all—devoted to doctoral students). I have no idea what her family situation is like. Is she married? Does she have kids? I know she divorced at least once... maybe the second time was a charm.

Here're two screen captures of her from the abovementioned presentation:

She might be dyeing her hair.

The reason for the difference in name-tag size is that the bottom pic was from a small image of her on the video. The top pic is from a nearly full-size image of her at the very end of the presentation; the large image made her name tag smaller, relatively speaking.

I watched several minutes of the presentation. She hasn't changed much: same frizzy hair, same cheek dimples, same voice (her least sexy attribute, but it somehow still leaves me with warm fuzzies), same mental acuity, same focus on aviation that she had in high school. Her university-website pic shows she still works out. Seeing her with glasses is an interesting change from what I remember, and that scarf around her neck signals to me that she's Of a Certain Age (she's actually several months older than I am). Despite the changes, though, I still melted when I saw her and heard her voice for the first time in decades.

Obviously, I'm writing all this very obliquely so that she can't Google herself and find this entry. There's something deeply embarrassing about tracking her down this way, but I'm still glad to get a look at her. Do I still have a thing for her? Yeah, maybe a little. I think of her as The One Who Got Away thanks to my own shyness and passivity. Without her even knowing it, she taught me a harsh-but-valuable lesson. Maybe in some alternate universe, I was brave enough to catch her, and life was radically, gloriously different.

For the moment, though, all I can do I marinate in memories.


John Mac said...

Dude, aren't you doing the same "shyness and passivity" thing now? Why not think of some uncreepy way to contact her? (Hey, Kristi, I was doing some research on potential places to retire. Wyoming and Alaska are high on my list, and I somehow came across this video of you. How are you doing these days?)

Or just take a vacation in Anchorage and inadvertently run into her. I don't know; that might be on the creepy end of the spectrum. Never mind.

FWIW, I just did a quick Facebook search and didn't see her.

Kevin Kim said...

Things are different now. It's been decades, and I'm not seriously considering pursuing her, now, at her and my age. You're an incurable romantic, so of course, your reflexive response is, "Git it, boy! Git it!" She's deep into her own thing, which involves an extensive study of US-Canadian cooperation in Alaska against potential Russian threats. I've got a Master's in religious studies (which hasn't proved all that helpful) and work in the language-education sector. I'm committed to Korea; she's committed to the US/Canada/Russia (her Master's was in Russian history). How would a long-distance relationship even work? In theory, if I became a rich and famous author, I could move to Alaska, right down the street from her. But I'm not that guy. So, no—none of what I wrote was to suggest that I might actively go haring off after her. As Mel Gibson said when he turned down the starring role in Gladiator, "Too old, mate."

Kevin Kim said...

Oh, yeah—tracking her down was hard. I tried intermittently over the years, whenever the thought struck me. I got lucky this time: a Twitter search of her name led to a lecture she had done; some guy on Twitter was talking about how much he'd enjoyed it. The lecture had a title, so I then Googled the title and found that Zoom recording that I linked to. First time seeing her since 1993, when she and I met in Osan, where she was stationed. She was just about to marry a guy named Ken back then. They apparently got divorced (news I heard from another high-school classmate), and I don't know what happened next. A chick like her has always had her choice of guys. I can imagine people hitting on her even now (if she's single).

I say that last part because my mom came home constantly with stories of being hit on by the older execs in her office. They all knew she was happily married, but that didn't stop them from flirting with her. Her name was Suk Ja, but these lecherous guys always called her "Suki," as if she were Japanese (somewhat offensive if you're Korean). Mom never liked the flirting although it may have amused her on some level. The important thing is that she was talking about this when she was in her 50s and early 60s. Petite Korean woman. And like a lot of Korean women who start off kind of "flat" when they're young, Mom filled out and became more curvy as she aged. I was talking about that with a British friend of mine in Masan; his wife is Korean and in her 40s, and we agreed that Korean women really start to look good when they reach that decade. Before that, they're all chopsticks.

Oh, reminder: for my sake, please avoid using K's name in your comments. Thanks.

John Mac said...

Oops, sorry about the name used; I thought a first name only would be okay. I also got the city wrong, having commented prior to viewing the link you shared.

Yeah, everything you say makes sense intellectually. It must be nice not to be governed by emotions like that crazy guy in the Philippines, you know.

I remember now you've written about her before, that Osan meeting sounded familiar. Glad she has made a successful life professionally, and she is still looking good for an older gal.

It's funny how taste in female attributes changes over time. I also thought of younger Korean gals as being most attractive in their youth, and then at 40, they suddenly acquired an ajumma vibe. There is a lot more variety in body shapes and sizes here in the PI, and more and more, the curvy gals catch my eye. Of course, I like the skinny ones too. Heh, I am a hopeless romantic. Or player. One of those.