Venus | Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely

A full version of this short non-fiction narrative is included in the book, Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely. The book is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

"love" from the collection eating kimchi and nodding politely by fiction author alex clermont writes

A few weeks after arriving in Korea I met someone. We fucked the first night we met. It was pretty good.

Neither of us were looking for anything serious. What it boiled down to was that everyone has needs, and it’s hard to get those needs met in a foreign country where men strive to look like boy-band members and women want to get married before they’re twenty-four.

I saw it as all very temporary, so I didn't care when she wanted to hold my hand during our walks to every and anywhere. It was nice, but that's all it was. I didn’t mind when she rested her head on my shoulder as we sat through long bus rides, or that she began telling me how much she missed me when I wasn’t there. Though, I admit that the words slowed the beat of my heart when I heard them – touching the place in my chest that heated up when I saw someone I loved in a casket, or when I first really noticed a baby’s smile.

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Time would pass, but I never thought about the possible impact of all those weekends we spent together, or the nights we stayed up talking over the phone about our dreams, our past relationships, and what we wanted out of life. It was just sex, and I knew that was all we could have. This was true even after I said, “I love you.” She began to cry in her bed with me inside her. While trembling and holding me tightly she said, "I love you too."

For months, in that same bed, we held each other, and laughed with each other, and I let her know that though I didn't believe in god, I thanked God for her – the most beautiful woman in the world. On more than one lazy Saturday we laid bare skinned and under thick covers, clutching at, and reading to, each other. I kissed her on the forehead between pages and wished that I would always be close enough to feel the warmth of her breath on my right cheek.

The night before she left the country I still thought I was just losing a convenient sex partner and nothing more. But when she waved goodbye to me from the airport departure gate I almost collapsed as the reds, blacks, browns, yellows and whites in my world all turned to gray. I was beginning to realize what I had really lost.

Catching her scent in the air of my tiny apartment later that night I breathed in to get as much of her as I could before she was gone from me forever – I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply.

With a long exhale, and quiet tears, I let her go. I missed her, I loved her, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life holding her in my arms.

My heart was shattered into a thousand brittle pieces, and I asked myself, “How did I get this far?”

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*Image Courtesy Raoul Dyssell


This short non-fiction narrative is included in the book, Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely. The book is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.