From USA Chosun
June 18, 2002
By Ha-Rim Chang
The famous writer, Bum-Shin Park, once compared the wandering circus
troups lives to that of floating weeds. My life in America
was not much different. Detached from its own root, my life as an
immigrant bore that resemblance.
Looking back in time, I think I wrote a very similar journal during
my early years in America when I was going from one menial job to
another, barely making my daily living. But before coming to America,
there was at least a different world in my dream, the one that would
be full of promising opportunities. If I go to American, I thought,
I would be able to go to a good college, and with that, I would
be working at Wall Street in a multistory building looking over
the world through gigantic windows.
I did not need anything in these wild dreams. America was the only
place of refugee for a person living in a corrupted society full
of death and strikes against the government, which was exactly the
portrait of Korea in the early 80s. Everything I saw around me was
disgusting, and I wanted to break off my unbearable relationship
with my country. Indulging in American dreams, I deliberately severed
acquaintance with friends and began to erase all my memories in
Korea. I ignored all the criticisms I received for condemning my
native land and decided to run as far as I could from it. So I left
everything behind and flew away just like floating weeds.
The life of floating weeds turned out to be harsh in this new land.
Without a place to go or anyone to turn to, I felt left alone. And
I had to do whatever it took to sustain my daily living. How many
different jobs have I gone through? Occasionally I myself get confused.
First, I was a restaurant waiter and then a sushi assistant, a cab
driver, a clothes salesman, a real estate broker, a computer network
technician, and a limousine chaufferjust to name a few. Before
I knew it, I was always someone else doing new things. There was
not a place that I could not go to, or a thing that I could not
do. Just as floating weeds move from place to places for nourishment,
my wandering life never seemed to be near its end.
There is a 400 years old magnificent oak tree standing in my backyard.
Whenever I look back in time, I take a look at this tree. Who planted
the tree? How did it grow into such a splendid one? Since the history
of my town goes back 200 years ago, my guess is that Indians planted
it. Was my house the site of an Indians tepee? With the abundant
natural resources of the Catskills mountains, perhaps my town
was the Indians village. Observing this tree for nearly ten
months until this one beautiful May Day, I suddenly begin to have
a different feeling about my life. I realize that I am no longer
living a nomadic life. I see that, just as some floating weeds find
a place to root themselves, I finally have settled in this little
town after long years of wandering. And before I realized it, I
was already the owner of my humble house, and the husband and the
father of three children. I am also the proud son and the brother
of my family members, all of who have followed my path into America.
Now, I have friends to turn to and to depend upon with love and
care. Just as floating weeds do settle on a land and flourish, my
life has finally settled.
I would not deny that life in general resembles floating weeds.
This becomes truer for the lives of immigrants. I may feel settled
for now, but I am not sure when I will have to move on with my life
again. The life of an immigrant or rather should I put it, the life
of floating weeds, is not something that comes with grace. Just
as floating weeds wander from place to place, the wanderings of
immigrants may never end. But, perhaps this is what makes the life
of immigrants richer and fuller than anything else after all.
Translated from Koran by Julia Yook
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