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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Bursting bubbles (in a good way)

I'd never heard of H Mart when I met Ramón in 2011, but it soon became an integral part of our relationship. H Mart is a Korean grocery store that has its own food court. I'm not sure if Ramón's Korean-ness led him to H Mart or if it was because the store was only half a mile from his condo (or if he bought his condo because it was so close to H Mart).


We first went there because Ramón wanted one of their smoothies with bubbles (aka tapioca pearls). The bubbles intimidated me because they seemed like a choking hazard. Plus, I wasn't sold on the idea of chewing a beverage. So, I got mine without bubbles. Ramón was appalled by this apparent act of sacrilege.


He insisted I try his smoothie with bubbles, but I stood my ground, mostly on principle at this point. After several more trips to H Mart, he finally convinced me to try his. Chewing the bubbles was strangely satisfying. Soon enough I began ordering mine with bubbles, and Ramón—in true Ramón fashion—wouldn't let it go.


"Remember how you refused to get bubbles and now you love them? Your life is so much better because of me."


I’d roll my eyes.


He did this with everything he introduced me to: gochujang, mochi, chai lattes, potstickers (Do you notice a trend?). Oh, and “Survivor.” He was always on a mission to convince me of his value—as though I wasn’t fully aware.


So, I’d do it in return.


“Remember how you thought fantasy football was stupid—and now you’re in four leagues?”


“Remember how you didn’t drink coffee before you met me?”


“Remember how you used to drive that flashy BMW and paid a million dollars for an oil change?”


Our banter was endless.


Now, once every few weeks, I treat myself to bubble tea—and I think of Ramón. And I think of my friend Megan who, while visiting one night, learned of Ramón’s love for bubble tea. We proceeded to order four bubble teas for delivery—one for each hand, I guess.


Yesterday was bubble tea day, and it was just as satisfying as I’d hoped.


The interesting thing about grief is that, sometimes, when you lean into it, you feel closer to the memories—and they become part of the present moment.


A beagle inspecting bubble tea
Get your paws off my tea, Magpie!

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