* Song of the Day : Cat Power - The Greatest
It's been a long time since I felt an inclination to write about myself, but today in light of recently reviewing my ancestry report; I've decided to write a small fraction of my feelings on being adopted, my upbringing in an almost entirely white town in the early 80's, and my experiences that have shaped me as I live today.
As Mr. Stringert my high school history teacher would say, the best place to start is the beginning, so without further hesitation... Nutshell by Alice In Chains spins on vinyl beside me, and here I go. I was adopted by my parents Bill and Susan Fitzgerald through Catholic Charities. They flew over to Seoul, South Korea and picked me out of a basketball sized court room of children of all ages, and flew back to the U.S. I will be forever grateful to them for this act of complete love. The story that was told to my parents was that a woman had found me in a basket in the road, and took me to the orphanage. Here I was named Young Won Park, which is pretty much Jane Doe here. I was given a estimated DOB, and was adopted on Dec 31, 1980. I remember always wondering that maybe the woman who dropped me off at the orphanage was my mother, grandmother, some relative to give me a better life; or that's at least what I hoped sometimes.
Being adopted was never kept from my brother or I, who was adopted prior and is not my blood relative, but is my brother in every sense of the word. We fought, we wanted to kill each other often, we love each other, we even looked alike, and at times actually got along. Like most siblings we're comforted we are not alone in this world even if months go by without speaking. After my brother was adopted, they decided to adopt me.
I felt as children we were either looked at as either some type of exotic beautiful play dolls, or completely outcast and stared at, not for that beauty of difference, but for the exact opposite. I felt as though life nowhere would be different,as I would always be different, dispensable, and yearning to be loved and liked. Growing up in a small town had it's advantages and disadvantages. I loved the yearly 4th of July bike parade, Girl Scouts, Midnight mass at my small church lit by luminaries as what seemed to be as far as the eye could see. I hated being one of only a handful on non-white person's of the community. I remember wanting eye surgery so my eyes would look like everyone else's.
I remember when Mars, our local town performed " The King and I," as it's high school play; they recruited my brother and I to be one of the King of Siam's children. I remember the adults thought we were so cute, and it just felt like we were not children, but spectacles. Adults more so would look at us as little china dolls, not so much with our peers as children. Children, adolescents, tweens, teenagers all can be so cruel, even our parents at times. I'll never forget when my father told me my ticket wasn't one way, but two, and he could send me back anytime he wanted to. It's sad because if you were to ask him today, he would not remember, but as a child, you remember. I remember things like that, they shaped fears, abandonment, and co-dependency issues I've struggled with and continue to today.
I remember leaving Mars middle school at the end of 6th grade in hopes of a fresh start. I remember coming home in 7th grade and taking off my uniform vest and finding "Made in China" stickers stuck to the back of it. I cried, and cried till there were no more tears left. I remember being in high school and the new kid doing chinese japanese dirty knees look at these to me, and I wasn't even the new kid, I was a sophmore. I remember not being talked to because others weren't sure if I even spoke English. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of sheer anxiety and distress when we stayed at Circus Circus my junior year in Las Vegas and 95% of the workers there were Asian. I fit in nowhere. I remember sitting at a gas station pumping gas on the way to Florida with Audrey as a little girl and kids doing chinese eyes at me out the car window. I was 24, and burst into tears. I would always be so angry that people would call me all the names, gook, jap, chinc, everything. I would say at least get the racist slander right if you're going to be an asshole.
Fast foward 26 years from this last picture taken in 1990 when I was 12. At Christmas I was given a DNA kit from my best friend Becca and was so very excited to see what exactly I was. Korean, definitely, but maybe some Irish like my father, which was always a running joke; and who knows maybe some German like my mother. I opened the report and cried. I never really thought maybe Chinese or Japanese would be even a factor. So.... every single racist thing that was said to me applied. All these years I at least had that comeback, and now, nothing... not a one except I hope everyone who made fun of who I am feels better about themselves. Interesting, heartbreaking, sad, and well, just want left alone for a little bit. Here is my 23andme Report. Hope everyone has a great day and thinks before the speak, especially something racist.