I know a man who found his birth mother, only to learn that she had died the month before. All those years of searching for a woman who lived fifteen miles away.
And another man whose sister, from the family he had never met, lived only blocks away from him. His children played with her children sometimes in the summer, when it was so hot the neighbors turned on the lawn sprinklers and the kids jumped around in the spray, soaked themselves to the skin.
And a woman, who found her mother, an hour’s drive from her home. In a house she had driven past before, for her work as a journalist.
It gives a strange kind of comfort to think that my search would take me eight thousand miles across the earth. She is looking for me, I can think, it just takes time to cover such a great distance.
J. finally left the man who was unavailable to her, the man who had not left his wife, but would spend the nights in J.’s tiny apartment and keep her up late telling stories of his wife’s cruelty. “I met someone,” she tells me on the phone one morning while she is on the train to work. “He is so kind to me that I don’t understand it.”
Years ago, during the hazy, half-remembered years after college, I was walking back to my apartment alone and ran into a man I had known some time before. We stood on the sidewalk in the yellow light of a streetlamp and we gave the necessary reports: I’m doing well. I’ve been busy. Things are good. You look great. And you, too.
He came back to my apartment and I opened a bottle of wine. It was late. We went at it dutifully, without pleasure.
After, he apologized as he sat on the edge of the bed, putting on his shoes. The strangest thing happened to me today, he said. I got a letter from a woman who claims to be my sister. How could that be possible?
I reached out to touch his arm. I’m sorry, he said, as he pulled away. I have to go. I heard the soft click of the door as he pulled it closed behind him and listened for the even rhythm of his footfall – down the porch steps and back onto the sidewalk until he was too far away to hear.
I go back to the slim blue folder. The letters from Korea in the shaky hand, the halting English. I am looking for answers that I will not find. That are not contained in these sentences. And yet:
I believe your family are all well and happy to wait your dear daughter Mi Jin, she is healthy, also playing with her doll may be she is so happy these days.
I met her few days ago, but she has stranged to me. The child easy to forget I thought.
I do hope as fast as she could go her home and meet her a new parents
I am sending you a picture of Mi Jin please make your mind happy.