I wrote a letter to a discharging patient of mine. It said not to come back. But not in the sense that I don’t want to see her, in the sense that I want her to do so well outside that she doesn’t need to come back. That I want her to stop hurting herself. If she needs attention, or to feel something, to find a passion, because a fire in her soul would warm her from the inside out and she would find herself glowing. I want her to eat, because a full belly is the key to a happy heart. And I want her to stop being afraid of people, because there will always be jerks in the world, but there will always be good people too.. But I didn’t give it to her. I never do. I try to keep a distance. But as the shift was getting closer to its end, she got quieter and more anxious. And when the next shift came in, I held open my arms and we hugged. And when she pulled away she was crying. The truth was, I didn’t need to give her the letter. In the days that we worked together, she had stopped hurting herself, and had started eating, and had found at least one good person..
In 2015 the documentary Twinsters came out. About two Korean girls adopted to separate families, and by random chance found eachother via the internet. The chances and specific elements that caused them to find eachother, in two completely different countries, were so slim and a bit, almost fantastical. But it’s the fantastical that makes the movie so moving and heartwarming. One grew up in California and the other in France. And it’s a perfect showing of how one develops by both Nature AND Nurture.
Quite frankly, I am a fan of all adoption stories. (I even find adoption stories in the most unlikely places. My favorite examples are Superman, and Mowgli, of The Jungle Book.) But what stuck with me the most about this movie was towards the end, when they finally went back to Korea together to attend a triennial conference bringing together Korean Adoptees. As I have always sort of grappled with my own adoption, more so for some reason since turning 30, this struck me as possibly the perfect way to move forward and explore that side of my life.
This past Christmas my family decided to up and do something completely different for us. We decided to spend it in Palm Springs, California. Which ended up having it’s challenges and its rewards. But I think I was ready to go home at the end of it.
While my parents breezed through Pre-Check at the airport, I slowly made my way through General security. I caught sight of an Asian woman far in front of me, and perhaps due to some Asian radar we have, she seemed to catch sight of me.
After I was finally through, my parents and I got much needed coffees and sat down to wait for our flight. I looked up and the Asian woman was seated one table over from us. And she easily began talking with us.
Her husband arrived with their own coffees and eventually she chanced asking me if I was a Korean Adoptee (adoption clear as my parents are both white.) and I told her yes. It turned out she was Korean and her husband was a Korean Adoptee. It further turned out that they were both heads of an organization called the International Korean Adoptee Association, IKAA, and it hosts a gathering in Korea triannually.
Even more kismet was, they remembered a girl coming all the way from Juneau, Alaska, the town where I grew up. My parents and I named a few, and bingo, one of the girls I grew up with, attending our own annual adoption group gathering, was the girl they remembered.
When we parted ways (not actually parting too far, as we were all going to Seattle,) they gave us an information packet on the next gathering in Korea, happening this very summer, 2019.
Later, back at home, I remembered the movie Twinsters, and wondered which gathering they had attended, thinking there must be bunches out there. I looked into it and, to my surprise, found that it was an IKAA gathering.
If I had never believed in Fate, or in signs, how could I ever deny this?
The bilingual pooch we met at the airport. I had seen this dog going thru security while I was standing in line. After sitting down with our coffees, I looked up to see this dog again, with its two owners. An Asian woman and man. We struck up conversation and come to find out the three of us were all Korean. They were able to correctly deduce that I was adopted, as I was seated with my (white) parents. Then they told us that they were the founders and organizers of a group called the International Korean Adoptee Association, who get together for a conference in Seoul every three years. It’s something I’ve been thinking very strongly about doing. Attending an adoptee conference in Korea. We talked about how we are from Juneau, AK and that growing up, I was a part of a large group of Korean Adoptees. Come to find out they knew and had hosted one of the very girls from that group! They gave us information on the upcoming conference this coming summer. And then we were kicked out of the area we’d been drinking our coffee in. But it goes to show how small this world really is, and how open we can all really be.
The longest trip home… You get in line to go thru security at the airport, weaving back and forth, all the while TSA checkers are remind you to take your electronics out of your bags, to take off your coats, remove your shoes, etc… You hear them run thru the schpeal 4 times before you get to the front. And even once you get there, people are asking if they need to take their electronics out of their bags, if they need to take off their coats, if they need to remove their shoes, etc… It’s next year by the time I get thru security, and mom already has coffees (they went thru the VIP pre check line…) We find some tables and chairs outside and drink our coffee. Until a woman comes and, not so kindly tells us to shove off as this is her Bar and NOT a part of the coffee shop… When we board the plane it’s about 11:15AM. I buckle my seatbelt and the plane turns. Just enough to put me directly in the sun, and the engine cuts. Sorry folks, air traffic is a mess and it’s going to be a bit before we are cleared to take off. The flight attendants pass thru with water, but I’ve passed out from boredom… and heat stroke. Our flight is only supposed to be 2.75 hours, but we’ve already been sitting on the plane for an hour before we get off the ground. Take off was like flying thru a storm, a couple folks letting out yelps and gasps. More importantly, the 3 or 4 infants onboard begin to scream. I pass out again. When we finally hit the ground its 330PM. We roll to our gate, everyone jumps up, and we stop. Sorry folks, there’s something wrong with our gate and they need to make a few adjustments before we can open the cabin doors. Mom and Dad are the last ones off. When we reach baggage claim our bags are all sitting in a line. Dad calls a shuttle for us and we wait outside for what feels like an hour. I stomp my feet to stay warm. The shuttle driver comments that we all look grumpy. We get to our car and dad says the wait for the ferry across the channel is 90 minutes, we plan to drive thru Tacoma and across the bridge. Mom notes it’s 500PM. The 1.75 hr drive home takes 2.5. We get home at 730PM. The longest trip home..
So here’s a real story. Jeggings. They’re really actually the worst. You try them on at the store and they fit great, and you feel great, and look at that butt! So you buy them. I mean, that butt! The first day you wear them, you’re feelin great. Then halfway thru the day, you catch sight of yourself in the mirror, turn, and where the hell did your ass go?! Your jeggings have gone all saggy and your butt has vanished!
But more importantly… We were all dipping our feet in the hot tub one morning. I was wearing jeggings. And in an effort to not get the cuffs wet, I rolled them up. But because of how tight they were, I had to roll them up to just over my calves and under my knees. No big deal, feet in the tub, cuffs dry. Well, I didn’t expect the heat of the tub to expand my legs. I couldn’t get my pant legs back down! And after walking back into the house, I was actually afraid they were going to have to cut my legs off. I flopped onto the bed with one leg in the air while my mom wrestled with each pant leg for five minutes, til finally they were down! Uh, lesson learned, jeggings and hot tubs don’t mix…
It wasn’t until much later that I realized the damned jeggings had given me these stupid tan lines! Curse you, jeggings!
I love the Zoo. There is something about a zoo that can make you forget yourself.
Forget the sounds of traffic, of checking your emails, of the hustle and bustle.
It is just the excitement and awe of seeing animals.
Animals you may never see naturally in your entire life.
It is being surrounded by predators and prey.
It is innocence.
The zoo is a whole world, separate and distant from our every day world.
It is a place that feels magical to me, because it can show you how big this world really is,
and just how small we really are.
8,500 feet above sea level. Near the top of San Jacinto Peak. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It harkened a bit to the days of the Mount Roberts Tramway back home in Alaska. Only less pine trees and Ocean. We traveled at what felt like breakneck speed, in a tram car with a rotating bottom. Swiveling around in slow circles while the woman next to me eeked and oohed at every gust of wind, and threatened to puke on her boyfriend (even though he was behind her and she was facing me…) At the top it felt like being at the top of a ski slopes, complete with screaming children, cheap french fries, and snow. And we hiked a bit down thru the snow, the only snow we’d see this Xmas season, watching children sled, actually sled, because somehow, they got sleds 8,500 up a tram to the snow. And then my blood sugar dropped and I hiked back to the lodge for fear I’d drop, wishing there was a fast lane and a slow lane for going back up, but getting stuck behind folks grabbing branches to use as walking sticks to help haul themselves back up to the lodge.. Cheap french fries to the rescue. And on the way back down they played Baby, I Need Your Lovin, instead of the dry, prerecorded instructions for safe viewing at the top, and perhaps it was the lack of oxygen, but I swear we all sang along, as we dropped back down into the sun, into the desert..