Son of a Street Kid
In my late 40s my dad mentioned he was a street kid for a year in postwar Seoul. Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world at that time.
He reminisced about it casually like I might remember watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid.
His stint on the street explains a lot about him and even myself. Why his personality is so brutal. He has a beastly primal aspect under the clumsy facade he wears to function in society. Why he doesn’t have basic manners or social skills even though he’s been around middle class people since he got into Yonsei University. Why he craves meat so much and his whole vibe changes whenever he smells it frying/grilling (even Spam or hot dogs). Why his attitude is more like a teenage factory worker or laborer than anything.
My mom has her own serious flaws and failings but she was middle class. Her brothers have their faults too but they weren’t as savage as my dad. They had some basic social skills, manners, and lines they don’t cross.
Anyway, my two not-blessed parents — who weren’t fit to have or raise kids — raised me in a typical Asian immigrant way. They tried to make me into what they thought was an upper class person. My childhood and teens consisted of rote academics, piano and viola lessons, and schools where everyone was 10 to 10,000 times richer than me. On Friday night, Korean school with local Korean kids. On Sundays, Korean church with mostly the same kids.
The result was grotesque, ridiculous, and sad.
I’m still just the son of a street kid. Imagine a street kid from a wartorn country today, and imagine that kid having a kid... That (the kid’s kid) is literally what I am. It’s actually liberating to know this, I don’t have to try to be something I wasn’t born for.