Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo Read Online (FREE)
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When you have a face that’s recognizable by an entire continent, you have zero room to make mistakes.
I gazed into the screaming crowd, lights blinding me and the sound of my voice faint through the headset. The nonstop roar made it impossible for me to hear my own voice.
Once during a performance, when I threw my body into the outstretched arms of my backup dancer, the tiny microphone had shifted under my curtain of hair, and my voice cracked during the most dramatic moment of my hit single “Heartbeat.”
It was the crack heard around Asia. Endless video loops of that moment were played on the Internet—some superimposed with cartoon rabbits and added screechy sound effects. My favorite one showed an animated pane of glass shattering at the exact moment of the voice crack. It was so masterfully done, I laughed every time I watched it.
My management label didn’t find it funny, though. They saw it as a lapse, an imperfection on an otherwise perfect K-pop star.
That lapse was what I was thinking about as I stood on a stage in Hong Kong. The final stop on my Asian tour.
There was something about the vibration in the air, though—the currents of excitement filling in the spaces between me and the crowd. It was why I did this. Whatever I had been feeling days or seconds before I stepped onstage—like worrying about messing up again—all of that disappeared when the crowd’s energy slipped under my skin and into my bloodstream.
Ferocious adoration by way of osmosis.
My silver stiletto boots were planted firmly in a wide stance, and my feet were killing me as per usual. I had this recurring nightmare of my boots chasing me around a parking lot. They were human-sized and ran after me in never-ending circles. My managers insisted on me wearing the same boots when I performed—my “signature look.” Over-the-knee boots that stretched up the long expanse of my legs.
I was tall. Five foot ten—a veritable giant in Seoul. But there was no such thing as “too tall.”
As I went through the familiar steps of the choreography for “Heartbeat,” I managed to ignore the pain shooting up from the balls of my feet, the perpetual wedgie from my booty shorts, and the long strands of my pink wig sticking to the sweaty sides of my face.
Because I could do this choreography blindfolded, with two broken legs. I’d done this performance hundreds of times. At a certain point, my body moved on its own, as if on autopilot. Sometimes when I finished performing “Heartbeat,” my head hanging at an odd angle because of how the dance ended, I would blink and wonder where I had been for the last three minutes and twenty-four seconds.
When my body took over like that, I knew I got the job done. I was rewarded for the absolute precision with which I executed my performances.