The Never Ending Finality of Ice Cream

The Fifth Chapter

picture credit @hanmigook

The cinnamon donut isn’t necessary, I snarled internally as Hanmi and I ran around trying to find Sweet Belly, one of the many hip modern dessert fusion eateries in the Bay Area. Ok we weren’t running, we were walking, well to be honest because of our bloated bellies, we were flopping around like babies with no limbs on Oakland’s urine glazed sidewalks trying to see where the heck north was on google maps. But because Hanmi was excited, we flopped together. “What if he’s right?” I thought. “It is very possible that jasmine vanilla ice cream with some nonchalant crispies topped with an auspiciously placed warm churro donut can radically change my life.” Although I was full, I would be foolish to pass on what could be divine intervention. I was, I am, geographically and spiritually lost. Ice cream would have to do.

No where in sight was the ice cream store, we were supposed to be only five minutes away but we’ve been wandering a good thirty minutes. As we were circling a particular block Hanmi noticed this steel staircase that ascended and jugged out of this big building. “Let’s go up” he says, as if it’s some sort of cultural obligation in our social contract with one another to make meaningful memories every time we see an emergency escape. Hanmi was the one who implanted grand images of fried circle dough in my mind so I grew frustrated at his new navigational whimsy. “LETS CONTINUE WALKING PLEASE.”

“C’mon, it’ll be fun.” Hanmi smirked back.

Dang it, it might actually be fun. So we climbed the staircase. As I was climbing these steps, these thoughts ran through my mind:

1. We’re too old to be doing this, the stairs don’t even lead anywhere, they just stop at the end. What’s so great about that emergency light at the top, I guess it makes things look dramatic. Ok I see the appeal now.

2. Damn, I’m out of shape. My jeans are too tight for this kind of post-dinner activity, why do I continually make the mistake of wearing denim. What pants is Hanmi wearing?

3. Hanmi is happy way to often. About the most insignificant things, it’s exhausting, these stairs need to be a little closer together.

4. Where’s my wallet? Oh, here it is.

5. I just realized that this will be the last time I see Hanmi before I move away for good. Maybe I should tell him.

6. Shoot, that would crush him though, he’s all about friendship and ice cream and having good conversation and finding the meaning in everything. He might cry. That would be interesting to see though, I’ve never seen him cry.

7. Once in the car, I asked Hanmi if he was in fact happy all the time and if he ever stopped smiling. He said that he tried his best to smile because he thought the world needed more positivity. But being a soul surgeon and allergic to bullshit, dissected further, and asked if he ever felt vulnerable, if there was a time where he wasn’t thinking about how he was being projected to others. Hanmi said he was being vulnerable now. I believed him. Hanmi was still smiling.

8. We’re just grownup children. I wonder what distinguishes a child from a man? Is it possible to be a child for your entire life? What are the significant gains of being child-like? Would it benefit me to be like Hanmi forever?

9. Hanmi has helped me with so many things. Helped me to find my own dream and direction. Hell, I’m following him up this staircase! But if I ever want to live my own life, I should start making my own decisions.

10. I think about Hanmi too much.

11. I am done being a child.

12. I need to grow up, nurture my own life for once.

13. I should tell Hanmi that it’s not enough to simply dream, maybe when you are young and hope is ever flowing. As a child, I think I did a good job. I managed to sift through all the pain and find meaning through it all, thanks to Hanmi, and have a general sense of who I am. I have friends now, but I have a family that I need to love. What I need to do is grow up, be a man, be obedient, and discipline myself. Gosh that sounds excruciating.

14. Oh, were at the top.

15. I should tell Hanmi something.

16. Maybe not.

17. Don’t be petty, just tell him.

18. It’s not fair for him though, he’s only been good to me. He doesn’t need me to say goodbye, I’m only moving south of the same state. California is big though.

19. I don’t think I want to say anything. I think I need the goodbye more than he does.

20. Hanmi is much stronger than I will ever be.

We took a picture at the top, it was obviously Hanmi’s idea, although I was glad he suggested it. I usually don’t say goodbye to people or to other metaphysical things in life because I never really saw the use. But this time, I dropped my pride and told Hanmi that I was leaving for good. His face did not stammer or express any cerebral change as I expected, instead he took my phone and snapped another picture. The evening wasn’t sad in any way, or even nostalgic, we eventually found the ice cream store but I can not remember if it was good or not. The strange thing is that Hanmi didn’t even want the ice cream to begin with, he didn’t tell me this but I could tell. As we were licking in silence, we both hoped for some other trivial impulse or cosmic sign to lead us on our next adventure. On the top of the staircase I tried to look at the stars but the light pollution diluted the sky. I took it as a sign to go back down. Hanmi was still on top when I took the last photo.

I guess you can stay a child forever, at least I know that Hanmi will stay a kid no matter what because he always knew that korean boys live forever. Its time to accept that all things eventually come to an end. Like the staircase, like the dinner we had, like college, like our favorite movie. Maybe one day, I will meet Hanmi again and talk about all those stupid little things he did and tell him that they weren’t stupid and that we’re actually supposed to be more stupid than we were. I hope he is not a man by then, then we would be two old ajuhshees laughing about our past instead of making new memories. I’ll write a yelp review about the ice cream store someday. No one was sad and I finally went back home.

End of Series.

*To revisit the series visit Hanmi on Instagram and on Tumblr. Thank you to all those who have read each story, much to come in the future.