Volume 3 / Chapter 102
In the last week of August, Jun Hyuk and Yoon Kwang Hun got on a plane back to New York.
This would be Jun Hyuk’s second trip to America, but his ticket was not round-trip this time. Now, all he had before him was the road forward.
He arrived at school with 2 trunks and a hard case with 3 guitars. Yoon Kwang Hun brought all of the luggage to Jun Hyuk’s room and looked around. A room with a Steinway grand piano which was impossible even in one’s dreams. A fully equipped bathroom in each room as if it were a hotel.
The facilities were great enough to have him lost in admiration, but he did not feel comfortable. Jun Hyuk was only 18 now… Other kids were at an age where they ate the breakfast their mothers prepared and complained to their parents, but he would have to figure everything out on his own.
There was a different emotion from when they had come the last time to interview. Yoon Kwang Hun even thought that he should fold his life in Korea and sell coffee in New York to live with Jun Hyuk.
He organized his thoughts however. It would just be 4 years. New York was just Jun Hyuk’s ground for 4 years. After that, he would live as famous musicians do.
The life of a musician, living in hotels for more than 200 days out of the year, performing all over the world, composing records, and then finding a city he liked to live in for about a year while writing music. He had no doubt that the world would soon become the grounds for Jun Hyuk’s life. Then, he was resolved to guarding his place in Korea.
He waited a moment while Jun Hyuk organized his luggage. Yoon Kwang Hun wanted to meet Jun Hyuk’s roommate. He prayed that he would not be a delinquent who smoked marijuana and liked alcohol and girls, but he could not even check because the roommate never showed up.
“Then I’ll be going. Study hard. If something happens, don’t hesitate and call me right away. Got it?”
“Yes. Don’t worry too much.”
“Call me at least once a week. Or else I’m going to come here looking for you.”
“What? You’re doing that because you’ll miss me, right?”
“Are you crazy? The plane tickets are too expensive.”
Yoon Kwang Hun looked at Jun Hyuk for a moment and got up from his chair.
“Have a fun time and make a lot of friends. They’re all good at what they do, so don’t underestimate them.”
Jun Hyuk could not lift his head.
“You’re dead if you start crying embarrassingly when I leave this room.”
“Oy, you worry about yourself. All the kids are going to see it.”
Yoon Kwang Hun relaxed when he saw Jun Hyuk lift his head and smile brightly.
“You play too much. I’m going.”
Yoon Kwang Hun quickly left the room so his teary eyes would not be detected. After he left, Jun Hyuk sat in front of the piano and played Marlowe’s Symphony No. 5, Yoon Kwang Hun’s favorite, so that he could hear it until he reached the elevator at the end of the hall.
Jun Hyuk finished organizing his luggage and took care of each of the formalities the school instructed him to, leaving his course selection for last. However he thought about it, the special class was a burden.
‘Well… since I don’t want to become a pianist.’
Eventually, Jun Hyuk only chose classes that corresponded with composition and commanding. An average of 4 hours of classes per day. With the special class, it was 7 hours. He also needed to add the time that went into playing with the performance team.
‘I might as well be a senior in high school, not a college student.’
He made a lap around the school building and scoped out the locations of the structure including the main office and cafeteria. When he came back to his dorm room, an unfamiliar boy had organized his things and was looking at Jun Hyuk.
‘So that’s the roommate?’
He had hoped for an Asian roommate if possible. It would be more comfortable to both communicate in broken English. However, a complete Caucasian approached Jun Hyuk while smiling
“Konnichiwa. Hajimemashite. Anatawa Jang Jun Hyuk desuka?”
‘What is this guy saying? Is he an anime freak?’
This was Jun Hyuk’s first impression of his roommate. He was clearly Caucasian with a white face and wine-tinted curly hair. But he was speaking in Japanese. Jun Hyuk did not know how to speak Japanese, but he could tell that it was Japanese.
If a white person can speak Japanese fluently, he either lived in Japan or was completely enwrapped in Japanese culture.
The roommate noticed that he had made a mistake from the surprised look on Jun Hyuk’s face and quickly started speaking in English,
“Oh, Sorry. You’re probably not Japanese. I’m Daniel Laferriere from Montreal, Canada. Call me Danny.”
This time, he was speaking English fluently. Jun Hyuk lost his surprise and became natural,
He needed to say more but what could he say? Jun Hyuk just thought of different words in his head, but did not say any of them.
“Uh? Is that all?”
“Ah. Call me Jang. I’m from Korea.”
“Oh, Jang. Korea. Okay. See you.”
Danny from Canada shook Jun Hyuk’s hand lightly and left the room. Jun Hyuk was crestfallen that his conversation with his roommate had ended so simply.
He could have done much better with the English he had learned until now, but it was not easy to speak. His mouth was already drying. Will he be able to adjust in a world that only speaks English?
Jun Hyuk wandered the area around the school for a few days, activated a cellphone, identified locations of places he needed like the music stores and Korean restaurants, and prepared for school to start.
In the meantime, he never saw his roommate, Danny. There was no doubt that he was going around New York City to have fun since he said that he had come from Canada.
Jun Hyuk could not pay attention to how the first day of classes went. He could not find a professor who spoke English normally. English with a French accent. English with an Italian accent. There was even a bearded professor who may have been Arab or Indian, who Jun Hyuk was sure was speaking Indian and not English.
The problem was that this Indian professor was the professor of composition. Jun Hyuk needed to listen to this professor’s class for 3 hours every week.
This musician, Rajkumar Hirani, was not an exceptional composer, but he was a top theoretician who systematically organized various ethnic music of India. After researching nearly 2,000 tremendous structures of India, he studied western music in London.
This scholar was often called a library because he had almost all theories regarding music saved in his head.
When the music lectures were over, Jun Hyuk ran to the seminar room next to the library alone. A grey-haired middle-aged woman and blonde man in his thirties took turns teaching Jun Hyuk. A specific subject had not been determined. The middle-aged woman did math and science while the man in his thirties handled subjects like literature, humanities, and history. They taught him as though they were just telling him stories.
On the first day, the word that the middle-aged woman said most and that he even heard in his sleep was ‘number’.
She taught him number theories like natural numbers, integers and rational numbers, but all Jun Hyuk remembered was ‘number’.
Jun Hyuk’s roommate Danny did not come in for the 3 days after school started. On the fourth day when Jun Hyuk went back to his dorm room after classes ended, he heard the sound of girls laughing and violin coming from inside his room.
He checked the room number and it was definitely his room. Jun Hyuk hesitated in front of the door for a while. Movie scenes of American college dorms passed through his head. If he opened the door and went in, he might see something he should not. After properly hearing a 1-minute long violin sound, he became angry. It was his music.
He opened the door and went in.
Two girls were hanging out on Jun Hyuk’s bed and Danny was playing the violin. Danny’s bed was also occupied by two girls. Fortunately, he did not see anything he should not have because they were all properly clothed.
Jun Hyuk went to Danny and took the violin he was playing. He thought of smashing it, but stopped when he had the thought that it might be extremely expensive. Instead, he yelled at the girls,
The girls laughing in the room stopped. Jun Hyuk had yelled in Korean.
“I’ll say it again. Get out. I said. Get out!”