So, I backed this journaling game on Kickstarter called Wait for Me, written by Jeeyon Shim and Kevin Kulp, and I figured I’d play the game now, here, on my blog. Why not? They’re emailing out the prompts for this journaling game, one at a time on a daily basis, so I’m going to blog them as I work my way through, possibly with some delays.
I doubt it’ll mean much to six-year-old me to have a prescription envelope from a pharmacy, all in Korean, tucked into his diary, but it’s all I have on me. I circle the date and my name, which at least, thank goodness, is in Roman letters.
It’s my birthday, 1980, in this little room in this trailer that I barely remember, and God, it’s only a few months till we move out west, to that awful town, to… everything. Quickly, I write:
Advice from tomorrow: practice running, and don’t blame yourself so
I’m yanked away before I can finish the sentence, and the memories that shudder through my mind as I write this are not of me remembering this stuff as a kid, or acting on it. Did I even see it? I don’t remember. But how could I even wrap my head around that? I was six years old.
No, what hits me is a memory from just a few years ago, going through old boxes during our my first visit in a decade to see Mum. Stumbling onto this old, tattered diary that, somehow, miraculously, survived countless moves and years at the bottom of a box in her garage. The eerily familiar handwriting weirded me out—the way I write now, not the way I used to write—but at the time I assumed that I must have scribbled that line into the diary later on, maybe at the end of high school, or when I was an undergrad or something, and I’m just misremembering what my handwriting looked like then.
Looking at that line, I was immediately transported back to the things that I did blame myself for, not long after, and the things I’ve always wished I could have outrun. Seeing that line drove it home: it wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I really could have done. I was so small. But I see myself, just a few years ago, stumbling on this incongruous line, in my adult handwriting, and wondering how it—and this Korean pharmacy envelope—how did that get there, stapled to the page with a rusty staple, but I was too distracted to glance at the date, all the feelings rushing through me from those memories.
Then glancing to my son, playing on the floor nearby, knowing that what matters now is that I make sure he knows better than to blame himself for things he can’t control… and I make sure he doesn’t have to feel that alone, trying outrun things no kid should ever have to deal with on his own.