The amount of information I know about my birth parents is small enough to take up half a postcard. Maybe less, actually. All I have is a handful of numbers and generic descriptors to go by. She was described as ‘outgoing’ and he as ‘shy’ as well as ‘a lover of music’. And as far as numbers are concerned, she was 5’3”, 100 pounds, and he was 5’7”. (Despite growing up on a different diet and not being athletic at all, I’m quite close to my omma’s size now.) Of this modest pile of trivia, however, I always come back to age. At the time of my birth, she was 16 and he was 17. They were kids. I always knew the ages of my birth parents, but as a child, naturally, teenagers seemed old to me. It wasn’t until I became a teenager myself that I realized just how young and inexperienced teenagers still are. When I turned 16, my first thoughts weren’t on my driver’s license, but on my lack of readiness to bring a child into the world. And I realized that that is exactly what my omma did. Perspective sure is an interesting thing, isn’t it?
I recently watched a 2005 Korean movie called Jenny, Juno. The protagonists are 15 year old classmates Jenny and Juno who are dating and soon find themselves dealing with pregnancy. It’s not a very serious movie at all. In fact, I’d say it falls more into the vein of sugarcoated romantic comedy. Which is..interesting given the subject matter and cultural context. From what I understand, South Korea has some of the world’s lowest teenage pregnancy rates. It kind of makes me wonder, if the rates are low now, what were they like in 1985-1986 when my omma was carrying me? What was the experience like for her and my appa? Jenny, Juno just made it all look too easy. Granted it IS a fictional movie taking place in a much more recent time period. I didn’t go into this expecting a factual documentary. That would be like watching The Princess Diaries to understand how a monarchy works.
Jenny, Juno may not have been a life-changing masterpiece, but it still made me think. It made a million different questions trigger in my head which I may never know the answers to. I found myself wondering about the context in which my birth parents lived during the pregnancy. Did they discuss what to do? Did my appa even know? Did their families offer any support? I even found myself lingering on minute things. What kind of foods did my omma crave while she was pregnant? What music did she listen to? What current events was she hearing about on the news or in the paper? I have an imagination that can run like a cheetah. Creative writing is one of my life’s great loves. I could paint a whole picture of what my omma, appa and their environment were like the year I was born. It would probably be far from accurate, but it’s something. My aunt once told me her own conjecture about my birth parents: that they were just two teenagers who fell in love or at least thought they were in love. That’s the kind of story that speaks to the optimist in you, that you want to believe. Maybe they had a love that was as innocent as Jenny and Juno’s. If I never know the answer, I will at least always hope they did.