That's me on the left, sporting a little stuffed rabbit and a short curly hair cut. Next to me was my best friend in Elementary school, Valerie. With her I treated my 1 acre yard as a wonderland. Together we created worlds of wonder under the tall pines and shady palm trees. She moved away before I headed to Middle School and I have always wondered what has happened to her.
This post is about my origins and where I come from. I suppose it can be considered a personal post, and I'm putting myself on the line. But I want people to understand my background and how I came to be the person I am today. In the end I suppose it all can make for a nice story.
I grew up in South Florida, and I say the South because it is really different from the northern part. My parents weren't originally from Florida and moved there from up North. They picked a plot of land in an area called "Parkland", which resides next to Coral Springs. Here they built a lovely house. Parkland was known for it's more "back to nature" and natural settings. People built large houses on acres of land, sometimes owning farm animals. Coral Springs, a city just next door built itself up in the typical suburban fashion. Cookie-cutter houses plotted closely together, with street gutters and carefully manicured lawns. Living in Parkland was like living in the "sticks", but with class.
It's pretty safe to say that living in Florida is like living in paradise. After living in South Korea the past five years, I can agree that Florida (despite the heat) is close to heaven as one could get. As a kid I enjoyed weekly visits to the warm Atlantic shoreline, dips in neighbors swimming pools and not a time I can remember of having to put on a heavy coat. I'm not saying Florida is perfect, but I will say that I cherish my childhood home. Living in Parkland, I got to play in the dirt and on some occasions swim next to dolphins.
Yet paradise isn't always on 24-7, and at some point life starts to boil up and show you it's real self. Around the age of 7 my parent's divorced and several years later I found myself in the dry-desert air of California.
From one coast to another, I found myself enjoying the rolling hills and red dirt that Northern California has to offer. I visited my father nearly every summer or winter, where we were treated to adventures in Yosemite, rides through the desert in Nevada and snow (a real treat for a Floridian).
So it became that I had a life in California and one in Florida, and I think this helped develop my spirit of adventure. Also traveling without parents and two other siblings could have helped give me an ability to be independent.
When I was 15, I decided to leave Florida and live with my Dad. It was a tough decision of course but it felt like the right one. I think this experience gave me the true roots in my ability to leave America and come to Korea. Leaving Florida behind I said goodbye to childhood friends, parts of my family and whatever culture you could associate with South Florida. I found myself at a new high school in a small town with not that much diversity.
I experienced a lot in high school and it certainly was a time where I discovered a lot about myself. I also made new friends, which I still have today.
Once again I picked myself up and moved to a place I had never been before. I went to Community College in Eureka, California. This is what one would say is true "Northern California" and anyone who has ever been there or lived there understands what it's like. Thankfully I did have a friend out there and so things weren't too vacant.
It was at Community College where I struck a definite passion with the arts and also where I had a serious relationship. But mostly I liked Humboldt for it's misty air and mysterious ways. The five hour drive from college back to my dad's home certainly gave me a lot of time to think about my life.
(view from my dorm window)
Berkeley / San Francisco:
I moved to Berkeley and lived with my boyfriend at the time, while commuting into San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University. No longer in the comfort of a small city, living in the Bay Area brought urban reality to my front door.
Looking back on my college days, what I treasured most was learning about art, trailing through the Berkeley Hills and the love I shared with my ex. I also enjoyed the times I spent as a camp counselor in areas around California.
But most of all my time in San Francisco was also when I had the hardest experience of my life. This was when I got severely sick, during my last semester as an undergrad. From this experience I truly understood how much I wanted to do in my life, and how easily that chance can be taken away from you. In essence, being deathly ill and surviving made me understand that I wanted to travel. So going to Korea and leaping into the unknown wasn't just a whimsical decision, it was almost a reflex.