Supressed Memories

19 Feb

There are things that I said that I don’t remember. I think I pushed them to the furtherest reaches of my mind. Like I saw women wash with washboards like when I saw a picture of Peach Boy. I don’t remember that, but when I saw a washboard I’d get an edge of a feeling I’d push hastily way.

Or even with my favorite doll. I named the doll Tuta (Too-t’ah). I even didn’t know considering I liked calling my toys things like “Kathy-Nathy” “Barbie” (for Barbie–very unoriginal considering some of the other names I came up with, but I had somewhat of a code that I wouldn’t name it if it already had a name) and choosing American names… why did that one sound so strange. It occurred to me to look it up after trying to look up my use of Korean with “Oogaya” which is baby talk command form for “Run” from a video my parents were recording shortly after adopting us. I looked at my dolls’ name and it turned out to mean roughly fuzzy cap. I realized that was the first think I remember about the doll as I opened the large box. The first think I saw was the pink fuzzy cap. I must have been a sensible child. I had a hard time looking up the words because the way I say it is in baby language regional dialect. A Korean dictionary from Seoul isn’t going to cover baby talk Kyongsangnamdo dialect as part of it’s vocabulary.

Meanwhile my brother gave all of his toys American names, “Big Bear” which is still his favorite and never wandered (a bit beaten up–he’s given it shirts, usually blue to wear over the years), Arthur, and other names. He never named any of his toys with Korean names.

Or when I wrapped my favorite doll in a cloth and showed my paternal grandmother and said that in Korea that’s how they carry babies. But then I’d stare at that cloth and wonder why I liked it so much.

My paternal grandmother also said that we were going to a Korean church (even though we’re Jewish, my mom tried really hard to make sure we were surrounded by Koreans occasionally.) that I cried when someone talked to me in Korean. It probably was something mundane as “You’re cute,” I probably understood, but didn’t want to remember what came with that.

And when I told my mom that we used to beg. Perhaps this is why I always failed at selling girl scout cookies and things for my school later. My brother and I would spend time in the record store hunting for change. My brother once while we were playing this game found a twenty dollar bill. I no longer knew why, but we did it anyway.

Each of these little things have things in common. I would push to forget, but after I’d forgotten I would want to remember again. I would want to remember why I said that and what I was basing it on. In that sense there is a large separation from me of now and that child freshly adopted. That child freshly adopted tried hard to adapt and forget. But the me of now is trying so fiercely to remember. We contradict each other, she and I, but she’d probably forgive me since I love Korea and her Korean family as much as she does.

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