Adoption Story…

Not too long ago I was gifted a DNA kit from a friend. I had admittedly been a little scared to use it. As a child I used to make up my own origins. I used to believe I was an alien. That I had dropped out of the sky and into the loving home of my family. Because, as an adoptee of a closed adoption, I could be anything. Anything was possible, Clark Kent was adopted.. Nobody could tell me different. I’d believed I was half Korean, half English, and a fourth Irish, because it’s what I wanted to be. It was my own small world and it’s what I felt..

Then they came out with home DNA test kits. And I was afraid. Afraid I’d finally have some answers and they wouldn’t live up to my dreams. And honestly, a little bit afraid I might find some family. Oddly enough, that it would be that easy. Spit into a tube, send it off prepaid postage, and the door to the mystery would open..

But I did it..

And I held my breath.. With half hope, and half fear..

And around 10:30PM, I got an email. My results were ready..

And after 32 years, I am reminded that I have a storyteller’s heart..

99% East Asian, and 1 faceless 4th cousin. And I am admittedly heartbroken. Just enough to crush my dreams, but not enough to answer my questions. I honestly don’t know what I’d really been expecting. People always told me to look in the mirror and I’d see who I was. But it wasn’t the right answer for me. It’s why I have a zipper tattooed on the back of my neck. There had to be more to me, I felt it, I believed it. But the truth is there. It is what everyone already knew about me, but me..

99% East Asian.. 1 faceless 4th cousin..

…But now the box has been cracked, and the game is afoot..

September 24, 2015

Last day in Oxford. Spent the morning in the large and unusually laid out Ashmolean Museum. Couldn’t help myself imagining all the statues coming to life and dancing to some disco song. Alas, it didn’t happen. Perhaps it was too early in the day. After, we found The Eagle and Child pub, where The Inklings used to meet up. Consisting of some of the great authors such as Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. I guess it was a good thing I read that book by Lewis on my way here. The sun finally came out on our last day here and we stole upon an opportunity to climb one of the towers for a view of the city from up high. 127 steps up and I was finally able to see The Radcliff Camera in full. From so high, I was reminded of an episode where a young Morse has his eyes painfully opened to the real world. Hard to imagine, in a city so small and self contained. People go about their business in their own little worlds. Worlds so distant and dreamy you could almost expect a young wizard to come whipping by on a broom. No, the streets are nothing like the crime riddled world of Morse and Lewis. It is a place of prestige and intelligence. It is a place that could easily crush the dreams of the faint of heart. But without all that, I can see why it is a place that inspired the campus of Hogwarts, the lands of Middle Earth, and the world thru the Rabbit Hole. It is a place that opens minds both academically and imaginatively. A place I will remember forever.

California Poppy

I love the California Poppy. Eschscholzia californica, also called Cup of Gold. Its such a simple but spunky flower. Opening up like a cup taking in the sunlight. And when the weather gets unsavory and cold, like at night, it closes up nice and tight as if saying, Eff you World, Im gonna hang out in my own space.

Olympic Peninsula

I still believe there is no more beautiful place than the Olympic Peninsula on a bright day. Morning coffee at my beloved coffee shop. Dreamy faces and heavenly scents. Early geri-excersise group on the docks. I lose myself in the exquisite brew and my favorite album, as i cruise. Down the highway. The road is bright, cradled in the arms of the the forestry. No more beautiful colour than sunlight streaming thru leaves. The trees tease sashaying their hips to reveal glimpses of the water. Sparkling like crystal blue fields made of sapphires. Until they open completely and the channel is the end of the road. I board the ferry to the big city, find seat in the sun, and as the seats around me fill up… the sounds of meaningless chatter pull me from the dream.

Daffodils

I love Daffodils. They are tenacious, blooming early in the year, fragile and temporary, they are small and under appreciated, they are beautiful without asking for attention..

Life and Death

It was Christmas, 2015 that the explosion happened at the dinner table. My brother and I, my parents, my aunt and uncle, and two younger cousins. We might have been having fun, wearing tissue paper crowns and racing wind-up penguins across the table. It was much later and the two younger ones were locked into their electronic devices, the rest of us remained at the table, wine glasses close to empty, listening to my uncle tell stories. And then my brother snapped.

I dont remember how old I was when I finally began to understand the kind of person my uncle was. My mom tells me she saw the look that crossed my face the moment it happened. That my aunt saw it too. 

It took years for my brother and I to finally decide we’d had enough of my uncle. My brother had packed his things and nearly drove home that night. It took an hour long, heated conversation for him to finally come out and say he wouldn’t do a family gathering that included my uncle again. My brother was eventually persuaded to stay, but it was the last Christmas we would spend with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

December 2017, right before Christmas, my last grandparent passed. Some time before that my mom and I had gone to lunch and she’d told me what my grandma’s life had been like. How hard it must have been. It was lovely to hear she’d had a smile on her face when she passed. That perhaps my granddad had finally taken her hand and that they were reunited.

And it was that passing that finally brought us all back together. To raise a glass to celebrate her life and love, together.

Not present, was my uncle. 

Five days prior, the doctors had discovered cancer in his bones and lungs. They told him he had a few months at best. That day he stopped eating. My aunt believed he had given up hope. She called her eldest daughter, away at college, and told her she needed to come home as soon as possible. And that afternoon we helped my aunt get ahold of hospice.

I’ve struggled to remember the anger I felt, to remember why it was important. Maybe there is a reason it all happened like this. My sweet and endlessly loving grandmother, hanging on to life for so long. No one knows why. Perhaps it was for this. Perhaps it was to bring us all back together at this time when love and support was needed. Perhaps this was her lasting gift to us.

The Drive

It is dark when I set out. My small jeep and my small family. The road is long, like 280 miles long, but its a road I’ve come to know well. I program Google Maps to give me directions. A route I easily know by heart, but perhaps so the journey wont seem quite so lonely. Another voice to me, where the cats will only meow. I have my podcasts cued up, 6 hours worth. Usually something of an educational nature, or sometimes mystery crime stories. Something to keep my brain engaged, where the dark monotony would pull me into sleep. 

In the darkness, the world seems small. Just two strips of pavement and a steady stream of white and red, like two string lights side by side, bending and curving along. The rain is falling, making the windshield explode with white and red light, like a muddied fireworks show, instantly whipped away with each sweep of the wipers. Its possible I get lost in it, the kaleidescopic patterns flashing before me, just following the stream of red lights. The cats each claiming a side of my lap. The voices of the podcast suddenly lost to me, something about math and physics and the birth of the universe… and then I notice red lights flashing more rapidly. Red and blue..

I pull over, out of the way, but the lights remain behind me. I continue to pull over. I hit the rumble strips as I pull off to the shoulder. The slowing speed rouses the cats. I watch as the flashing red and blue follows me off to the shoulder. I don’t have the tightening in my chest, or the pit in my stomach, the way I did the last time I was pulled over. Over 10 years ago, sorrowfully driving back to college. The year I dropped out and moved to Oregon. 

The flashlight beam illuminates my passenger window. A police officer and my uncaged cat lock eyes. I roll the window down and am informed I’m being recorded. He asks me if I was aware I had been going 70 mph. 

“No. Not really.” I respond, blandly. 

“Whys that?” He asks.

“I guess I just wasn’t really paying attention.” 

He asks where I’m going and I tell him Seattle. He scoffs and says I have a long drive. After having just gotten off the most patience draining 8 hours of work, I simply nod and say, “yeah…”

He lets me off with two warnings. One on paper, the other by telling me he didn’t want the next time he drove up to me to be at my traffic accident. I laugh, but he reminds me that he is being serious.

“Watch your speed when you pull out.”

I watch him as I pull out, adhering to the speed limit, unsurprised when, after a few moments, I see his lights go on again, for someone else.

The rest of the drive is unremarkable. My speed slowly creeps back up. I follow the lights, like lights guiding me to an exit. One cat settles across the center console, my empty Red Bull can crinkling under his weight. The other settles between my thighs, face resting in my stomach. We drive like that for the next four hours. Occassionally the voice of Google Maps will calmly remind me which exit to take.

The road gradually grows smaller. Three lanes, to two lanes. The white and red lights grow fewer. And the trees begin to close in. Until eventually I am alone, on a two way road with a yellow line down the middle, cradled in the green embrace of the trees. I am listening to the sound of an old man’s voice recall the murder of his daughter. My speed slows as I come to my first stop sign in 6 hours. Both cats perk up. Soon enough, we’ll be there.