photo © 2009 mksfly | more info (via: Wylio)
Melissa "Mila" Konomos is a reunited Korean American Adult Adoptee who authors the amazing blog "Yoon's Blur." As May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, she has graciously agreed to write a guest entry on the topic of her choice to share with us her thoughts and perspectives.
The following is a poem that I wrote at the age of 9 years old during art class:
[I also sketched with markers two small drawings in the margins of a flower “dying in peace” and another flower “alive again in peace.”]Flowers make me think of peace because when wind blows at them they don’t try to fight back. When winter comes flowers wrinkle up and just disappear but they die happily because they know that another flower like it will come and take its place and make everyone happy. When people come and take flowers away from their home they don’t cry or try to do something bad. They just think of peace and say in their mind I’ll make this person think of peace, love, and happiness. The End.
* * *
When I was a little girl, I used to fantasize about running away from home.
So, one day in 1983, when I was eight years old, I decided to do it.
My parents were away from the house doing grown-up things. I had been left under the watch of my thirteen-year old brother, Joel. He had consigned me to my bedroom for misbehaving, or perhaps for annoying him, or maybe for both.
Regardless, I seized this as the perfect opportunity to make my getaway.
imagined that I would run away and never come back.
It would take my family hours to figure out that I was missing. Once they did, I pictured in my eight-year old mind, Joel being overcome with guilt, and my entire family agonizing over my disappearance, regretting every moment they had not cherished me.
They would then know what it would feel like to have lost me once and for all, which would make them realize just how much they loved me and how much they wanted me back.
Then, one day, after years had passed, I would return home. And on that day, they would welcome me—falling on their knees with arms wide and tears streaming. They would look up to the sky, hands lifted and entwined, thanking the heavens that I had returned to them. What was lost had now been found.
For the rest of my life, they would cling to me and profess their undying love for me and me alone.
This was my fantasy.
* * *
I had four dollars in my nylon Velcro wallet. I crawled out of my window and slipped through the gate at the side of our house in Hawaii. I hopped on my bike and rode as fast as I could.
I pedaled and pedaled. With all my fury and all my tears. All the way down the street. All the way out of the neighborhood. I passed the playground. I passed all the houses.
I pedaled and pedaled.
All the way to McDonald’s.
* * *
I parked my bike, locked it up. Wiped my face.
I walked into McDonald’s, pulled out a dollar and ordered some French fries and a soda.
I delighted in my scheme. I wonder if they’ve noticed yet—that I’m long gone. It must be working.
But as I savored my fries and sipped my soda, a sharp, cold fear spread through my chest and into my throat.
What if I disappear, and they never notice? What if I disappear and they get angry? What if I disappear, and they do not miss me? What if I am gone for too long, and they forget all about me? What if I can never go back?
I began to devour my fries and gulp my soda with a frenzied urgency.
* * *
I panicked as I lined up the numbers on my bike lock. I have to get home before they notice anything. Before it’s too late, before…I can’t go back.
I raced toward home, pedaling even more furiously than before.
My heart felt frantic.
I need to get home. Hurry, hurry. Hurry.
* * *
No one ever noticed a thing.
I returned home, snuck back into my room and sat on my bed feeling both disappointed and relieved that my fantasy had not met fulfillment.
* * *
Now, as I write these words, I realize for the first time in my life, that it was not my American family about which I was fantasizing during that little escapade—it was my birth family, my Korean family.
Even then, although unspeakable, my eight-year old self harbored deep and dormant longings for a home and a people that found their way out even when I could not.