On the way back to DC alone, I put my earphones on and turned on Podcast. Then, I realized that I hadn’t listened to it for the past 12 days. Not only Podcast, but also my laptop and music, all of which have filled up my time and space as if they couldn’t be left vacant, were not with me during this trip with my mom from DC to Grand Canyon to Canadian Rockies. For 12 days, we never ran out of things to talk about, walked around holding hands all the time, took pictures and cherished every single minute together. It was also a new, a little bit uncanny but satisfying experience to see my mom comfortably relying on me (it was my mom’s second visit to the U.S. and she doesn’t speak English). I guess I grew up enough to be able to care for my parents, although I am still a baby to them even when I become a grandma.
Day 1-3 in DC: “Visiting my daughter” was the phrase my mom memorized and practiced over and over again before boarding a plane to DC from Incheon, South Korea. Handing over her passport to the CBP officer, she blurted out the phrase and swiftly gave him the invitation letter I wrote for her trip as if she didn’t want to give him a chance to ask her anything in English. The officer, who by the way looked kind according to my mom, skimmed through the letter and then looked at my mom. “Georgetown?” He showed four fingers to ask her to scan her fingerprints and that was it. “I worried for nothing,” she grinned. I did too.
Among the U.S. cities she visited—New York and Boston in 2014 and DC, Las Vegas, and Seattle this time—she said she liked DC the most. I knew that she wouldn’t pick New York; she flipped out when she saw a mouse in a subway station there. Boston was too cold for her; she couldn’t believe that she needed a coat to attend the Commencement. On the other hand, the walk around the Mall and toward the Lincoln Memorial was pleasant and she liked a clear sky and a lively atmosphere.
Day 4-7 in Las Vegas and Grand Canyon:
Day 8-11 in Seattle, Vancouver and Rocky Mountains:
Day 12 in DC: Back to DC. Alone again, but with lots of precious memories with my mom. And with the courage to mute the voice of self-doubt, stop being shy, and venture beyond my comfort zone; the vastness and magnificence of Grand Canyon and the Rockies somehow scared off my used-to-be mighty inner critic that has shackled me.
Throughout this whole trip, I was with two entities that are the warmest and most powerful in the planet—my mom and Mother Nature.