“Here we are”, I thought to myself with a sigh as our car approached the now-blinking traffic light at the intersection of Goffle Road and Godwin Ave. After 14 hours of flight and a shuffle to sort out a miscommunicated ride from airport, finally arriving at our house in Midland Park was definitely a relief. However, even when I collapsed on the couch in my living room, that sigh still wasn’t that of “ahhhhhh, I am home.” This was my home alright. But it didn’t feel like home. It felt strangely distant. Empty. Not that I miss home in Korea. I dearly love it, but it’s not my home any more. I had confirmed it during this trip. I had faced my denial and said good-bye to the homeland of my youth. I didn’t belong there anymore. Yet, I didn’t feel like I belonged here, either.
Soon, still feeling tired and jet-legged, I had to help prepare for the upcoming outdoor concert. “Hamburger patties, check, hotdogs, check, buns, check, drinks, check, ah, I forgot onions and tomatoes! Do we really need them? Will it be ok not to have them?” It was life as usual. Things to do, errands to run, small crises here and there. It seemed my life here was all about responsibilities and tasks; constant effort to survive, manage and fit in. After all these years living in the U.S., I still felt like a land-animal trying to make a living in water world; I had to continuously remind myself when to hold breath and when to breathe, to keep moving my feet to stay afloat. I was tired. I wanted to relax and rest. I wanted to feel at home where I can just be myself, where I don’t have to try to figure out how to conduct myself appropriately.
Young musicians from Brooklyn arrived.(A band called Helping Hands.) The Food Table was set. It was still hot, but soon the sun was going to set and it would hopefully become cooler. My mind was yet on ‘run’ mode. “How many people will come? Will they like these singers? Do we have enough food? Who are these new people? Should I go to say hello? Or Should I just leave them alone?” Ah well. I got my food plate and found my chair. Food was delicious. Our humble stage was a simple platform, but it looked lovely with its natural backdrop of a tree and little Christmas lights on it. The Christian band started singing. I didn’t know the songs, but the music was beautiful and the testimony of faith in lyrics resonated with me. God loves me and I love God. I looked around. I saw familiar faces enjoying being here with each other. Sharing food, time, faith and life together. Someone smiled at me. I smiled back. I leaned back and looked up. The sky was orange and pink and gray and blue. I felt a soft cooling breeze on my face. “Ahhhh this is good,” I thought. This is the place God put me to be for now. A place I belong to. With people who love me and I love. I felt relaxed and happy. I was home.
Seon Ah Ahn