When I was 15 my dad and stepmom had a baby. She was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1257 kms from where I lived with my mom and brother in Victoria, B.C. “You have a sister,” my dad said, calling me minutes after from the hospital. “Her name is Abby.” I was ecstatic.
Determined not to let geography prevent me from bonding with this new human, I saved up a couple paycheques from my mall job at New York Fries and, two months later, bought a plane ticket to Saskatoon.
All three of them were waiting at the airport. Abby’s hair was dark and her eyes were a grey-blue shade that my stepmom predicted would change to brown but never did. I watched her little face look up at me in the backseat of the car, her hands balled into fists. A sister. Fifteen years and two provinces between us.
We would see each other once or twice a year throughout her childhood, a week in the summer at Waskesiu Lake, and sometimes a week in Victoria in February. At the lake we went for walks along the dirt trail behind the cabins, and ate fries at The Beach House across from the water, and when she was older we played tennis and carried our cameras to the field behind the gravel road and styled photo shoots starring ourselves. The distance didn’t define our relationship, but rather created a framework that compelled us to spend every second together during the times we had a visit. The first time I lived overseas she was four, and I’d call from Greece or Israel or England, and after my dad passed the phone over, would ask her what she did that day, hoping she’d remember my voice. She always did.
Then last winter she sent me this picture of her and my dad…
My new idea is come to Korea this summer and spend a couple weeks with you if possible. Pretty out there idea but I’m gonna start saving up for my plane ticket anyways.
I was ecstatic.
On July 28th, after departing from Saskatoon and changing planes in Calgary, Vancouver, and Seoul, she arrived. She’s 17 now. It had been a year and eight months since we said goodbye. The plan: weekend in Busan, three days in Seoul, two days on an island called Deokjeokdo, and back to Busan for the last hurrah.
I had one teaching day left before vacation started, so Abby’s visit began with a trip to my kindergarten class the next morning…
On Saturday Joe and I took her to the Jagalchi Fish Market along Busan’s port…
It was a winner.
Let the Saturday festivities begin…
At Thursday Party, it was time for Haven to celebrate his birthday…
none of us can remember.