- Art and the Acceleration of Gravity
(Warning: Do not read during mealtime)
Ŭngyŏng had a small face, a lean frame, straight posture, and fair skin. She was a striking beauty. I quickly pulled over and scrutinized the photo.
“Who is she?”
Mother was all smug. “Why? Do you like her?”
“She’s probably just photogenic.”
I restarted the car, pretending I didn’t care. But I worried that the way I kept glancing at the side mirror might betray my interest.
My mind was made up. I had been seeing someone for two years. Mother wasn’t all that into Sojin but I didn’t care. Mother wasn’t rich and I wasn’t exactly young. So it was all the more surprising that she had found me such a gorgeous woman.
Mother said if I didn’t change my mind after seeing three women of her choice, I could go ahead and marry Sojin.
“Don’t be absurd. I’m going to marry her whether you like it or not.”
What I said didn’t matter, of course; Mother started looking for a suitable woman using every connection at her disposal. I wasn’t worried because mothers all have predictable taste. The first woman was a sweet, cute girl from a good family, and the second [End Page 157] one was an intelligent, outgoing doctor. Rather than marrying me, they would be better off dating each other, given how they both so closely approximated Mother’s ideal. But this third woman, Ŭngyŏng, was different. I guess Mother really did hate Sojin. It seemed she had ultimately abandoned her requirements just to separate us. And her strategy was working.
“What does she do again?”
“Her father is a professor of aerospace engineering or something. They used to live on the moon before immigrating here when she got into college.”
“I bet it wasn’t because of college. Probably because the lunar base shut down.”
“No, I heard it was for college.”
“You’re wrong,” Mother insisted. The only way to win this argument was to see this woman and listen to her story, so I reluctantly agreed to a meeting. I was more curious about the truth than her looks. And the truth as told by Ŭngyŏng was like this:
“College? Well, I couldn’t get a job so I figured I should go to college.”
“Why couldn’t you get a job?”
“I couldn’t use any of what I’d learned on the moon.”
“Why? What did you do there?”
“I did a bit of art.”
“Oh . . . art.”
Ŭngyŏng was even more attractive in person. She was generous with feeling and full of expression. She had done a little art. I wondered why I didn’t find the arrogance of that statement to be too much. Maybe it was the long silhouette of her neck.
“I don’t know much about art, but maybe people here were kind of territorial? Artists from the moon probably don’t have much in the way of connections,” I commented.
Ŭngyŏng gazed at me in confusion, and burst into laughter. [End Page 158]
“Oh, not at all. It was the genre. I studied something that’s hard to do on Earth. I never got far enough to need connections.”
When I saw Ŭngyŏng laugh, I fooled myself into thinking that I had livened the mood with comments that were most appropriate and necessary, rather than hasty and tangential.
“Really? There’s something that can be done only on the moon? What is it?”
Ŭngyŏng grew as mournful as a parent who might have lost a child during war.
“Dance. Contemporary dance.”
“Yes, dance. But the dance from the moon could never be done here on Earth. It’s very different because of gravity . . . .”
“Oh, gravity. That must be hard. So what do you do now?”
“I’m still a dancer. I had to start all over with the basics when I began school in Seoul. But . . . .”
But it must have been difficult. It’s not easy to move to a...