I've shared facets of my story many times. About how I immigrated with my family to Bakersfield from Seoul in 1974. Of the few carry-on items I had with me during my flight to America ... I had my passport and my hymnal. A book with songs that I sang growing up within my musical family ... a family that taught me from an early age that sometimes, the most difficult things to express can be done so more beautifully through music and art. In 1978 at the age of 11, after studying for an exam about American history, I was officially naturalized to become a US citizen. The proctor giving me the test was a serious old white man who I think was quietly rooting for me ... a little Korean girl who had worked hard to get on the road to becoming a Korean American woman.
There are so many beautiful stories about growing up in Bakersfield. American friends with whom I played the way little kids do ... spending the night, playing dress-up, making crank calls, eating junk food, talking about our respective crushes, singing Beatles songs.
Dark moments also existed. A bully who repeatedly slapped me on the playground during recess ... Laughing neighbors who shoveled dog shit onto our driveway ... A belligerent drunk redneck who spit sunflower seeds onto my face.
This morning, as I was digesting the reality of President-Elect Trump, I was grateful to hear Secretary Clinton, who after winning the popular vote, conceded defeat per the electoral vote, with a request for everyone to give Trump our open minds and a chance to lead. With grace and calm. Without anger, jabs, or accusations of anything being "rigged." I was grateful to hear President Obama say that he and his team would offer the kind of support to help Trump's team transition into office as he received from President Bush and his team. Peace. Calm. Up until all of that I had cried a little but I hadn't yet sobbed. And then I heard a report about some Wall Street brokers chanting and laughing "lock her up" on the trading floor after her speech. That's when I burst into tears. It made me remember all the feelings of being slapped, the dog shit, and the slimy spit-ridden sunflower seeds.
Part of my story this morning is being mother to two millennials who are hurting. I'm hurting too. After my morning cry, I had my coffee, then I had a great run and sweated it out. I've also been texting with friends with whom a gamut of emotions has been released. It feels good to have friends who understand. And had our candidate been victorious I'm sure there would be other families and friends feeling the hurt this morning.
The invitation I made to my children is for them to join me in telling our stories as much as possible, and to help the stories of other people be heard. Stories either through art or just plain one-on-one conversations.
Putting aside politicians and politics, I have experienced firsthand that by telling real stories about my everyday life, I (radical-feminist-heterosexual-married-immigrant-agnostic-with-Christian-upbringing-mother) can feel bonded and close to a person whose facets are different than mine. Not in a "let's become best friends and braid each others' hair close" but the kind of closeness that develops when we relate to the tiny universal truths of being human.
It's through sharing stories and conversations that I think our diverse citizenry will remain closer to peace, and farther from war.