I was staring at a life and death problem on the baduk board, but my mind kept flying to the idea of pretending to go to the toilet so I could take a peek in the next room. To my surprise, Jane had begun learning baduk while I was away. Now, Jane was at the baduk school with me, and sat in the beginner class in the next room. I welcomed this change with excitement – I no longer had to leave Jane to go to baduk school, and I could even help her learn. One downside, which I failed to anticipate, was that it was difficult for me to focus on my studies, knowing Jane was in the next room. I wanted to go see her, play with her, and maybe answer some questions if she had any. Of course she had her own teacher in the beginner class, but Jane always understood better when I explained things to her.
“Hajin, why don’t you play a game with Brad?”
Perhaps my teacher noticed that I wasn’t making much progress with my life and death problems.
“Can I use the restroom before starting?”
On the way out, I looked at the next room through a small window on the door. The teacher was giving a lesson, and Jane was sitting in the first row. Then, remembering my excuse, I went to the restroom, washed my hands, and came back to the window. Jane was still watching the lecture. I was tempted to walk in and sit next to her, but instead I went back to my classroom and started a game with Brad.
That night, Jane and I were in our bed together as usual. We shared a queen size bed in our bedroom and had a separate room for studying. When my parents asked me if wanted my own room just before we moved to our current house, I told them I preferred sharing both rooms – we would sleep together, play together, and one day study together, too.
“Do you like learning baduk?” I asked Jane.
“Well, it’s not very fun.”
“Really? Why not?”
“Umm, I don’t know. Is it fun for you?”
I suddenly understood what Jane meant – actually, it hasn’t been really fun for me either, especially since it became more serious.
“Yeah, I guess it’s not always fun. But it’s fun when I win.”
“Oh, that’s true. It’s fun when I capture the opponent’s stones from the board.”
“When I lose, or feel stuck with a certain problem, it’s certainly not fun for me either. It makes me sad and frustrated. And that makes me want to get better.”
“What if you didn’t play baduk at all? Then you don’t need to get better.”
“Well, I can’t win if I don’t play.”
“We can do something else for fun.”
I imagined us doing the things we enjoyed together everyday, instead of spending hours at baduk school. We could read, ride our bicycles, do coloring books, and so on. It sounded more fun than studying baduk. But, it also felt a bit wrong – a life without any baduk in it.
“Or, we can study baduk together. I am sure you will like it more over time.”