It’s getting better all the time — better, better, better
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
In 2011, when I was living and teaching in the Washington, D.C., area, a trio of Korean university students in the U.S. to study English for a year were in one of my courses. Effervescent, dedicated, wickedly smart and joyful, Mina, Summer and Cellestyn challenged me to be a better teacher, and I wanted more than anything to be better for them.
The trio brought delight to what were for me dreary and dark days, and it was clear to all of us that we were counting the time until the end of the course so we could nurture our connection. And finally the course ended.
We were inseparable for the rest of the year. Quickly, I became Mom — which they still call me — and they became my Darling Daughters and my grrrlz, which they always will be.
Mom and Darling Daughters in 2012. From left: Debra, Summer, Cellestyn and Mina.
Mina is the serious one, and she knows more about English grammar than I can ever hope to. Cellestyn is the quiet one with a ginormous appetite. Summer is kinetic energy, full of wonder and orneriness. I see myself in each of them.
We had great adventures, visiting Virginia's Luray Caverns and various hot spots in the D.C. area, I cooked them Thanksgiving dinner; they cooked Korean feasts for me, and we laughed and cried and took excellent care of each other.
Too soon, it was time for Cellestyn to return to Korea, and our family diminished. But Mina, Summer and I had time left. I took them to my beloved Cape May for a delicious and delightful weekend. They cooked for me, and I couldn't get enough bibimbap.
We went to see "Hysteria," a hilarious movie about the inventor of the vibrator. They took me to a Korean BBQ restaurant. When I was going through my divorce, they helped me pack and move, and they stayed with me so I wouldn't be alone. Like teenagers, we had slumber parties, giggling and talking until dawn when we fell asleep from exhaustion.
Too soon, it was time for Mina to leave. And then there were two, Summer and me. How fitting, then, that the day before I left everything that I had spent 35 years building in D.C. for the unknown and unfamiliar of northern Colorado, I took Summer to the airport so she could begin her trip home. It was January 2013.
Thanks to Skype, Whatsapp and email, we have remained in touch, and I promised that some day, some way, we would be together again. My heart broke when I realized I would not be able to attend Mina's summer 2016 wedding or Summer's summer 2017 wedding.
But the universe provides.
When I learned in late April that my English Language Fellowship would not be renewed as planned, I began a turbocharged job search. Having survived — and even thrived — during my fellowship in Russia (in spite of and despite any number of hurdles), I was confident I did not have to limit my job search to the U.S.
Multiple times a day, I searched the education job boards and spent hours each day applying for positions throughout the world. A position for a visiting professor in the Institute for Language Education and Research (ILER) at Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SeoulTech) caught my eye, and I applied.
I had a rewarding hour-long preinterview Skype conversation with the search committee chair, Craig, a kind and gentle Canadian who has been in Korea for a decade, followed a couple weeks later by an hour-long technologically-impaired — and therefore, often frustrating — full-committee Skype interview while I was on a business trip in Siberia.
And then I had an agonizing weeklong wait during which I slept little and dissected every detail of the interview, increasingly sure I had blown it. On July 3, the wait ended when I received an email with the subject line, "Contract offer to Debra Josephson Abrams from SeoulTech ILER."
When I was offered the contract, I texted my grrrlz, "Want Mom to move to Seoul?" and perhaps you heard the resulting screaming — that was Summer.
Cellestyn saw the message first and sent congratulations filled with emojis. Mina wrote, "Wow!!! So excited!!! Congratulations!!!! I have hundreds of plans to take you here and there. Like you did."
Five years ago, I promised my Darling Daughters that some day, some way, we'd be together again. The universe provides.
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