Place Where You Live:

A Gold Minivan

There is a gold minivan outside my grandmother’s house.

In the five years I had grown up in this neighborhood, I had never seen this car before. It’s immaculate paint job gave off a polished sheen and it boasted a license plate from the suburbs of the city. In a town where cows roam freely on acres of rural farmland and the sole vehicle ever seen is the jalopy that delivers the mail once a week, the “city car” stuck out conspicuously.

Excited by the prospect of an adventure to the city, my brother and I ran outside. Much to our surprise, our uncle stepped out of the van. “Ah Hyun, Chan Jung!” he called us by our Korean names. His voice brought me to an abrupt halt. Upon closer inspection, I realized tears were seeping from the corner of his eyes. “Have a safe trip to America,” he wrapped us in a tight embrace. I furrowed my brows in bewilderment; what was America?

For the past several weeks, my parents had been whispering about a foreign land called America. We were leaving Korea to live in a new place supposedly filled with wonderful opportunities and grandeur. Unfortunately, I would also be thousands of miles away from my home and family. Yet my naive five-year old self had no notion of what America meant and simply disregarded what I assumed were frivolous remarks.

A lump formed in my throat as I comprehended why the strange car had brought my uncle here. It was here to take me away — transport me to somewhere strange and far away. I wasn’t ready to leave; this place had been my home for as long as I remembered. I had grown up feeding the chickens every morning and planting the seeds for the yearly crop come every summer. A myriad of thoughts crossed my mind. Was I leaving forever? Would I see this place again? How could I ever call America my home? My parents’ voices diffused into faint murmurs as my fears consumed me.  

There is a gold minivan outside my grandmother’s house.