It was time to say goodbye, but I was happy to do so. Amidst all the tears shed by my mom, grandparents, and all the relatives who had come to say farewell, I was the only one jumping with joy, trying to drag my mom and sister to the airport terminal. My mom was hesitant to leave her whole life behind, having lived in South Korea for more than 30 years. But at the time, how could my 3 year old mind understand all these complex feelings? All I knew was I wanted to go see my dad.
A while back, maybe a year before we left Korea, my parents had made a difficult decision to move to the United States. This was not an easy process. Our family had many relatives, friends, an apartment, and my dad had a well-paying job in Korea. Why would my parents want to leave this? The answer was simple. For me and my sister. Korea and most of Asia is known for its harsh education system. My parents thought that moving to the USA would help me and my sister have a better life, even if it meant sacrificing so much for us.
A final decision was made when my dad found a job and decided to move to the United States before my mom, my sister, and me. As a kid, I watched as all my toys, bed, furniture, books were either given away or sold. These were my objects that had been familiar to me for years, just going away. During this time in California, my dad’s job paid very poorly. When he woke up early in morning, he could only afford a small breakfast. Afterward, he walked 11 miles to his work, ate no lunch, and walked home to a poor quality dinner. We called everyday. Was this the opportunity he was looking for?
Meanwhile, in Korea, my sister was maybe a month old, and my family was struggling without my dad. We lived at our grandparents’ house, and there we took walks around the neighborhood. Whenever an airplane passed by overhead, I pointed up with my chubby little hand and yelled for the world to hear, “That’s my dad!”, even though it really wasn’t. At home, I watched my parents’ marriage DVD, and when the groom (my dad) walked in, tears would roll down my face. I scampered over to my mom and wrapped my arms around her leg, refusing to let go.
A phone call came for my mom one day. I clearly remember my mom saying, “Really? We can come now?” Gasping, I whispered to my 3 month old sister, “We can go see Daddy now!” She cooed softly in response. I raced to my room, feet pounding on the floor, threw open the closet door, and pulled my Dora backpack out. Dora’s smiling face mirrored mine, as I threw my favorite toys and snacks into the backpack that was gradually getting heavier. A few minutes later, my mom walked into the room and gasped. Wondering what she was so surprised about, I glanced around the room, not expecting to see much difference from the normal. “Oops,” I murmured. Toys had been flung across the room. Some were laid on the bed, while others were scattered on the floor. The blankets that had before been neatly folded and stacked up were now all over the place, as I might have been jumping up and down, knocking objects over without really noticing.
The day finally came. I rolled my Dora backpack toward the airport terminal, at the front of the long line of relatives wishing us goodbye. But I was ready to go, almost dragging my mom toward the terminal entrance. Saying hasty goodbyes, we flew to the United States, to my dad. At the airport, my dad was waiting. I flew and wrapped my dad in a hug, his arms enclosing me. I was finally home.