Searching for Seoul- Post 1

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When I see the fog settle over the San Fernando Valley in a misty blend of grays and purples, I imagine that I can see the Korea of my childhood.  Three mountain peaks shrouded in mist, crisscrossed by dark power lines and cables.  The scene is as dingy and ambiguous as my memory but somehow I’m able to smell the coming rain; feel the perspiring air against my face.  I vaguely remember driving by these mountains, sorrow threatening to swallow me up as I sit in the backseat of a car or a bus.

I wonder if this is a real memory or something fuzzy my imagination cooked-up to help me cope with the lack of information I have about my childhood.  The first seven scenes in the movie of my life have been redacted yet I’m supposed to have a strong sense of who I am and where I’m going.

Not everything from my past draws a blank.  Sometimes a taste of something new becomes something familiar and I know without a doubt it’s my past trying to resurface.  I had dinner in Koreatown one night when the flavor of one of the side dishes made my heart leap.  I told my friend excitedly that I was sure I’d had it before.  She looked underwhelmed as she explained that it was a common dish- sweet red kidney beans simmered in soy sauce and sugar.  With each bite I willed the memories to come.  Where was I when I tasted this? How old? Is this something I’d eaten at my mother’s kitchen table or a dish I’d had at the orphanage she’d ensured would be a part of my past by her lack of involvement in my future?  Even as I write this I can almost taste the sweet kidney beans, feel the mealy texture on my tongue and against my teeth.  Still- nothing.

I grasp continually for impressions that are as elusive as the mist that triggers them in the first place.

Afraid to Live…

I lean back in the passenger side of the car as the traffic lights flash through the windshield.  We’re  almost home.  The time glows digital green from the dashboard of the car.  We’ll make it back just in time to watch our new must-see Sunday night show, “Believe.”

I want to say something a loud to J but I hesitate.  If I say it, that implied meaning it.  Did I mean it or was I compelled because I always felt inspired when I left Mosaic?  Well, mostly inspired, sometimes discouraged by the comparisons I drew between the lives I heard about and my own.

“I feel like I’m trying to preserve my life” I say a loud, like I mean it.  “What am I saving myself for? ”

If I were a pre-recorded message my themes would consist of these phrases:

“Be. SAFE.”

“That. Is. Full. Of. Germs.”

“That. Could. Kill. You.”

“Do. Ing. That. Is. Sue.I.Cide.”

I am apparently saving myself for some great cause and it’s a necessity for me to be without a physical or emotional scratch when the cause reveals itself.

When I ask my questions a loud, I realize that I’ve been aware of the cause most of my life.  I may not have always been old enough, independent enough, or resourceful enough…but those are not excuses I can lean on now.

I connect the dots that have led to it- my cause; my birth in a foreign land, my adoption into a forever family, what I’ve seen as random skill sets accumulated over a decade of careers that just didn’t stick and the people who did.

As we pull up to our house and bring the car to a stop, my cause light goes from yellow to green.

I’ve been afraid to live.  Afraid to get hurt, get dirty, or be unable to find myself home again, safe and sound.

I’d still like to avoid getting hurt and getting dirty but not at the cost of losing my life because I focused so hard on saving it.