This project is a loose collection of events and memories from a trip I took to Seoul, Korea, in the 1970's. I was eleven at the time. Each chapter is available to read as I finish creating it so it is more a series or a collection than a book. I started with a general idea for this project but no formal outline and each chapter is a topic I'd like to cover. As I start a chapter, I let it take its own course and I enjoy seeing what emerges.
Many people ask me how I remember so much about this trip - very simply, I didn't want to forget because I wasn’t sure I'd ever be able to go back again. I was raised by my grandparents and nanny in Korea and then separated from them when I moved to the United States to start first grade. I missed them very much. Kids don't have a say where and with whom they live and I was still unsure of how I fit within my family in New York. I often wished I could return to Korea but was afraid to tell anyone how I felt.
Why these stories are important enough to still want to tell, I'm not sure myself. But in the telling, I can feel how special that time was. I think 11 is a unique age - still seeing through kid eyes but awakening to a new level of understanding. As I look back at my younger self, I am surprised at the purity, the depth of feeling and compassion I felt and I realize how easy it is to underestimate kids' feelings. If anything, I think kids feel more intensely than adults. It's also fun to remember the things I used to do and I think nostalgia connects us all and brings us back to simpler times.
This story has been in the making ever since I started out on the trip but it took many years to find the right medium. Words alone couldn't capture physical/cultural things that I thought were important - like how we sit, or eat or even clean the floors. Illustrations on paper have their own set of limitations too.
One day, my husband bought me a tablet so I could draw on the computer. For years I thought drawings should be created on paper. At first I was reluctant to go digital but a funny thing happened when I discovered 'control z' to undo. There are compromises but overall the tablet provides the freedom to create lots of pictures, organize them, and put them together in the format you see here. With my son Cameron's technical help and patience, I decided to start telling this story my way, one chapter at a time and see what happens.
For so long my goal has been to share my story and after I had kids it became even more important for me to show them this time in my life. I am glad to be able to share this with you and I very much appreciate your readership. Your feedback is an incredibly powerful motivator for me and I thank you for reading!