My last few days in America were bittersweet. I recovered from the East Coast road trip while gradually packing my belongings and experiencing the things in America that I’ll miss in Korea. Some things include drinking delicious beer, eating pizza and cheesy foods, visiting UNF, and of course spending time with my friends. I even got to spend time with Alexa and Tyler, who trekked all the way from Tallahassee. The presence of this intellectual and open-minded couple is inspiring and refreshing.
Daryl’s mom was generous enough to offer a farewell dinner at her house. She cooked her famous Filipino dishes : pancit, lumpia, and barbecue. Her food is absolutely delicious and defeats any other restaurant. Maybe it’s just that special mom touch. I was finally able to contribute by rolling the lumpia prior to being fried to oily deliciousness. Also included in dinner were Korean vegetarian (and mediocre) kimbap, salad, stir fried mushrooms, fruit, strawberry and banana angel food cake, and adorable cupcakes, compliments to Shaun and Ashleigh. I am fortunate that many special people came gave their Tuesday night up to drive far distances to goodbye to me.
The amount of wine I drink is directly proportional to the amount of hugs given and the amount of tears shed. It was difficult to say goodbye to the Florida chapter of my life. I moved to Jacksonville not knowing a soul and not really having a valid reason for choosing it. It was quite the arbitrary decision, but it was certainly they best one I could have made. Jacksonville surprised me. It comes off as the right winged Bible belted sprawl, but there are little pockets of the bold city that I have found comfort in. Most importantly, I have found the good in humanity in the people that I am lucky enough to befriend. From our 18 year old energetic and youthful selves to the post-bac identity crisis/early career selves, we stuck together in a genuine and loving family. Many of us have already moved on and a handful remains in Jacksonville. It’s good to know I’ll always have friends around the globe.
My parents and Daryl took me to the airport at a high-school early time. I packed my life into two suitcases and a backpack. Saying goodbye was not as difficult as I had anticipated because deep down, I know I’ll be back in their arms. They may be sad to see me go, but they are proud of me for making this significant journey back “home” to discover my roots.
Several time zones and plane rides later, I made it to Incheon airport. My jet lagged and groggy eyes immediately lit up to the sound of my name, “YOON HEE!!” and the sight of my smiling appa and eonni (dad and sister). I pushed my luggage cart toward them an suddenly I saw a familiar woman walking toward me from the restroom. We both sort of stared at each other and within seconds, synchronized our confirmation and smiles and proceeded to run to each other. It was thrilling to see them again. I must admit that it was an interesting experience to be dropped off by my parents in America and then picked up by my parents in Korea. I left with everyone saying goodbye to Lianne and welcomed to the name Yoon Hee.
Saying goodbye is never easy. I know I’ll see my special people again, but I don’t know when that will be. Who knows how long I will be here in Korea. Maybe the kids will tear my soul apart. Perhaps I’ll realize I truly don’t belong here. What if I freeze to death in the intense winters? Nothing goes as planned and I can only take one day at a time.