WAIT FOR ME first began as a very visual image of two people sitting on the bumper of a car looking out over a sunset with the twilight sky high above them. But they were not alone, inside the car, a younger sister watched and waited to see what would happen. In fact, she was the reason her older sister could even be out in the first place. Initially, the role of the younger sister and her relationship with the older sister is what pulled me into the story.
It took me a long time to figure out what form this story needed to take. I took a screenwriting class in hopes that maybe it was supposed to be a film. I spoke with writing buddies. I read a number of different books. In the midst of all this stewing, James, my partner, and I took a trip to Sikkim, India, Northern Vietnam and Thailand. After returning from that amazing adventure, I learned that I was pregnant.
My daughter was born in 2002 and I pretty much stopped all writing to focus on motherhood. During this first year of joy and discovery, I also learned that my younger brother had passed away. That year of joy and tragedy has been one of the most confusing, wonderful, devastating periods of my life. I needed a way to deal with all of these emotions, so I took it to the book. To the writing that still saves me to this day.
I wanted a way to capture and honor the best parts of my brother's life. Sung An was a musician, a romantic that loved weddings and kids. He also spoke fluent Spanish. An archeology major, he often times traveled to Mexico on digs. He and I would often discuss the internalized racism that existed in Korean communities towards other people of color. And in California, where undocumented workers account for the majority of menial labor, the growing trend in MY immigrant population was the employment of these undocumented workers in their grocery stores, dry cleaners, their restaurants. In these setting and relationships, tensions came to a head. After my brother passed away, I returned to the story with the knowledge that the two lovers on the bumper of the car came from similar, yet completely different worlds. And I asked the lovers, I asked that shy little sister in the back, what mattered the most to them. What did they want from this one life? They were very clear with me. Honesty. Love. And a path of their own making.