I don’t know why I’m wearing gauchos with a blazer. This seems wrong.
But no big surprise because the Seventies strikes me as being about misguided choices, especially the decision to emigrate to the US from my first home, Korea.
There are a bunch of old photos of me in a crowd of somber looking grown-ups at the airport. I am with my cousins, aunts, uncles, and there’s my grandmother who had already said so many goodbyes looking tired and dazed. She knew what was coming.
The Seventies were a hardship for my parents and they sent me back to live with one of my father’s older brothers who had three children. Maybe I could have just stayed on as his fourth. It seems a betrayal of sorts to say so, but my parents could not handle the burden of a child while trying to turn their Korean life into an American one.
You’d think I’d have written more poems about this time in my life by now, but I haven’t. It’s a dilemma for sure.
When you became American you watched that movie thinking you were Dorothy but no, you were the house torn from its foundation and the years you spent trying to fit in were the flying monkeys.
–– excerpted from “In Korean Years” by Jiwon Choi