100% carefree

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At one point of my childhood I developed a skill, a skill that has been handy at times most needed ever since. It’s called “prepare yourself for everything so that you’re ready for anything” I don’t remember what it felt like to have my family’s first move to LA; I was three. But I do remember how it felt like to move back to Korea when I was six and a half years old. It had been a tough experience, more of a shock to me, learning for the first time what saying goodbye was about.. Subconsciously, I knew that saying goodbye was something I sucked at and would suck at for the rest of my life. As self defense, I somehow “programmed” myself to always be ready for goodbyes, at least when it came to those I felt were important to me. It was instinctual.

I remember watching a documentary once when I was seven. It was about a boy who had lost his mother somewhere in Seoul. By the end of the documentary I had learned that not all orphans were parentless from the start. From watching documentaries like this, other movies, TV shows, and stuff on the news, I discovered that these things could happen to me as well, anytime, anywhere. This led to the thought that I should train myself to always be ready for the time when I would have to say goodbye to my mom, because my mom was everything to me at the time. Oh, don’t worry. This isn’t about how I lost my mom. Thankfully, I still have her.

It was some kind of ceremony that was taking place at a stadium in central Seoul. My dad had gotten us the tickets to it, and it must have been something spectacular because even before the start of the event there had been an unimaginable number of people at the subway station near the stadium. On the steps leading out of the station, my mom and I had to hold onto each other’s hands as tightly as we could. I had to whimper “Don’t let go. Don’t let go.” under my breath, afraid that my little hand would slip out of my mom’s, sweaty by then. We tried our best to survive what seemed like the longest ten minutes of tug-of-war, trying hard as we could not to be pushed by other people and away from each other. It was so Titanic; how desperate and scared we were at that moment. And when it became the hardest to hold on, when I couldn’t see my mom anywhere but only knew I was holding onto her hand that was sticking out in between the arms of strangers, I thought, ‘Maybe this is it. Maybe God made me do all that training for this very moment and everything that’s going to change now.’

Obviously my mom and I didn’t lose each other there, but every time we look back on it, we think that we sure could have. And what’s important is that this experience made it even clearer to me that this training thing was not something to overlook.

From then on, my family moved around quite a few times: first to a different part of Seoul, then to Arizona, then to New Jersey, then back to Korea. We never lived at the same place for longer than three years and I always knew that we would move again to another place eventually. Each time we moved, I saw myself getting better and better at focusing on the new life ahead of me instead of what I would have to leave behind. This is how it worked: By the time an environment once so new and strange to me became so much more that I would finally be able to call it “home” I would be aware that “so and so” were people I felt emotionally attached to. I would then at some point start that training again; think about the day I would have to leave them, shed a few tears now and then, and get over it before it actually happened. And it worked. Every time we moved I would never have emotional breakdowns, never shed a tear for having to leave anyone behind. Anyone.

I know I’m not moving anymore, at least not for a while, because my dad’s work no longer requires my family to, and because I’m not planning on living abroad. But the training. It will never stop. Like I said, I’m now “programmed” that way.

I now see the problem in it. It’s like a switch now, a switch that, once pushed on, would automatically make me immune to the things that can hurt me. When I heard that my brother was going to stay in Korea while we lived in New Jersey, when I heard that my grandma passed away, when I saw my brother in bed, twitching occasionally and looking like a stranger because of all the weight he had lost, when I heard that my grandpa collapsed and was taken to the hospital..... it should have felt like the world was falling down on me. But I felt nothing. Nothing. I was so prepared. So carefree.







................And here it is again.
Another goodbye, another piece of cake.




Because “devastated”
is probably the best word to describe how I feel this very moment.
And yet,
I feel nothing.
Nothing at all.





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