On a warm October weekend in a small California East Bay town, my father almost killed his girlfriend without laying a hand on her.
Recognized as a Notable Mention in The Best American Essays 2017
“You two, and my time with God, are the only things that keep me,” said a mother to her daughters. She focused on the square brass clock mounted on the wall ahead of her: 2:43 p.m. It was Wednesday, October 28, 1992. The day we waited, waited for God to lift us up into heaven at 3 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
We slept on yellow floors that burned at night. You called them ondol. Paper-screen doors I pushed and pulled, smooth to my exploring touch—until my stubby fingers poked jagged holes. Through these ruptures I peeked into rooms the screens were meant to shield. A house that was flimsy where it should have been solid. I said to you, I don’t like it here, Daddy, when can we go home?
Nominated for a Pushcart Prize
Days after the election, I realized my vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton was like a penny that you toss into one of those dusty, help-beat-cancer jars on store counters.
If we had patience and time and paper and pen, I’d have explained the lines, curves, and ticks striking together to create meaning. I’d have etched Chinese characters, hanja, the ancient tree from which every Korean name is derived, but I didn’t know how to write the strokes that my mother’s father showed me in Seoul nearly two decades earlier, the last time I saw him alive.