Monday, August 14, 2006

Yuhl-Sheem (3)

Since I was a young girl I dreamed of going to America. As I grew older I was surrounded with tantalizing tokens of America. Sometimes our family would get food supplies from the United States. I loved the food—things like Spam and that powdered drink mix—Tang—it was like nothing I had ever eaten. Such ingenuity! I would watch movies and see the convertibles and beautiful scenery and I thought that all of America was that lucky. America seemed so beautiful.

When I was almost 20 years old, my family finally got the chance to leave Korea. We first went to Guam and lived there for about three years. Soon after I arrived in Guam my uncle showed me a picture of James. James was a young man who was looking to come to the U.S. on a work visa. Our families had a mutual friend who was trying to set us up. I looked at his picture and thought that he looked like a nice man but I was not attracted to him. I had no want to get married. Eventually, James came to Guam. He was a very kind man. I could tell from the way he spoke to others and the way he spoke to me. Despite this, I still didn’t want to get married. I wanted to go to school or find a job and become a career woman. I had big dreams; I came to America to make those big dreams come true. Even though I didn’t love him my parents had arranged my marriage so I had no choice. We were married in December of 1978, only after five months of knowing each other. At that time a part of me resented him. I wanted to be free. It wasn’t until five years after we were married that I grew to love my husband. It wasn’t until much later that I became grateful and glad to have him as my husband.

In December 1979 my first daughter, Christen, was born. Two years later we were able to go to the mainland. When we were flying to the mainland I felt like I was truly going to America. To me, Guam wasn’t a real part of America. I wanted to go the mainland. I was so excited.

One of my brothers picked James, Christen, and me up at the LA airport. As we drove home to San Diego I kept staring at the open roads. They were so spacious; it felt so free. We stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom and I was amazed at how clean and nice the bathrooms were. America truly was like the movies! Riding on those huge roads made me happy. I had no fear at all. Even though I couldn’t speak any English, I didn’t care. My mother and father were already in San Diego; my entire family was already here. I wasn’t scared at all. I just kept thinking about how I was going to see my family. I never wondered what would happen to me because I couldn’t speak English.

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