Monday, September 10, 2012

The Life Aquatic

I think Omma will always be tied to water for me.  I am a Pisces, after all. On my first trip back to Korea, I spent hours walking up and down the shore of Haeundae Beach searching for answers, crying as if my heart were breaking. I later found out that Omma, when pregnant with me, did the same thing, trod the same path that I would follow eighteen years later.

Here, at home in California, the ocean calls me, and every few days, I make my way down to the beach to walk and think, as the dog frolics and kicks up the sand beside me. I gaze out to sea, and cast my heart out into the waves, knowing Omma’s there on the other side to receive it.

Nearly all my dreams about Omma have water involved. I dreamed about her last night. In my dream, I had called her to tell her I missed her, that I wanted to see her. “I’ll be there in two months,” she said. And then, suddenly, she was there, fitting so easily into my life as we shared food off the same plate and walked hand in hand down a crowded street.

But then, the floods came, probably my subconscious sorting through the Korean news reports of the torrential rains in Seoul, the recent devastation from the typhoon.  In my dream, the waters rushed down the street, rapidly rising, sweeping away everything in its path.  Omma turns to me, looks me in the eye. “Hold on to me,” she says. “I will keep you afloat. And when the water finally drags me down, let go and swim away.” There is no time to argue with her, and we are caught up in the froth and foam of the raging waters. In that strange way that dreams progress, suddenly, the waters have receded, and I am alone. Around me, people pick up and recover their lives, as I wander, disoriented.

I always seem to lose Omma to the waters in my dreams. Disconcerting, yes. Though, this time, I know her face, know she hasn’t really been swept away. And I can appreciate her sacrifice in my dream without being so clouded by the grief and loss of her disappearance, secure in the knowledge of her existence and her love.