I have a valid excuse for last week. I promise. It was Christmas break and I was running around like a headless chicken trying to figure out gifts and catch up on the sleep high school classes have taken away from me. So, on that note, let's get to the next part of the story!
Waking up the next morning was a bitch. Not gonna lie. My pillow was stained from our tears, and we both had hair stuck to our faces by drool. Mom had her arms wrapped around me like a mama bear would to protect her cub, as fresh tears were rolling down her face. I get the feeling she was already awake, but I didn’t want to disturb the moment and stayed still, milking the time I had left.
I heard a door knock, and realized it must’ve been Krista and the two body guards. They all went to the same hotel as my family last night, to give me time with mom and grandma. But Krista did tell me she and the guards would be back first thing in the morning, regardless if I was awake or not. Again, TS with their precautions to protect me. I get it since I’m a foreigner, with absolutely no Korean ancestry, but it still sucks and I’m still gonna dislike it.
Grandma comes in, and I can feel the sorrow in her steps, and the regret in her voice as she pulls the pair of us back into reality. “Carrie, Angie. I hate to do this, but both of you need to get up. She has to pack and get ready to go.” Mom tightens her grip on me for a short moment, then releases, getting out of my bed and heading to her room to grab fresh clothes. I don’t even begin to pack before I grab my comfy and cute outfit for traveling. I head to the shower and hop in, feeling my muscles relax. Mom comes in, and we begin reminding each other of the funny things that have happened in the past 16 years, mom telling me about all the stupid things I did as a toddler or small child, and I brought up all the times she was so stressed about small or meaningless things. She took care of whatever she could pre-shower, and when we switched, mom left the room as I changed, and I waited until she was in the shower to go back in and continue the story time.
I dried my hair, put my contacts in, did a little bit of makeup just for appearances sake, and brushed my teeth. I didn’t put anything away, because it was all going in my suitcase and coming with me. I took one long, hard last look at everything I touched, trying to ingrain it into my memory. I wanted to remember everything. Too soon, mom was done with her shower, and it was time to pack up my suitcase and say goodbye to my family. It’s going to be the hardest to say goodbye to my mom and grandma, and my beloved cat. I hope nothing happens to my Sprinty-baby while I’m gone. It would destroy me for him to get sick while I sat idly in Korea, waiting for any news and not being able to help him. But hopefully I’ll be able to convince TS to let me bring him over, once I reached a certain point. If I can, I will do everything possible to take care of him.
Walking into my room, I saw my grandma sitting on my bed, holding my baby blanket close to her. “I remember the day your mama brought you home, to this very room. That first night, you were an absolute angel. You were born early, and the doctors kept you in the NICU, just for observation to make sure you were okay. It was pointless because you were completely healthy and even came out naturally and chubby, but they kept you longer than they should’ve, making your mom and I worry our hearts to death. One of us was constantly there, just to make incase there was even a whisper about bringing you home. Eventually, they decided they were done poking and prodding you when you were supposed to be sleeping, and said we could take you home. You probably slept so well because there was no one to poke you every hour. You soiled your diapers and we changed them, and even had you eating without waking up because you were so tired. I will forever remember that day, as I lost more sleep taking care of you than I did your mother. She refused to sleep because she was worried there was something wrong with you, as you weren’t crying. I tried to make her go to sleep, even told her I would wake her up if anything happened, but she fought through the night. In that moment, before she’d even had years under her belt of raising a child, she became on of the best mothers I ever knew. She’s given you everything she ever wanted as a little girl, and I’m so proud to see you leaping at those opportunities. It hurts, but sometimes the pain brings happiness and joy, when it would usually bring sorrow and more pain. You better take care of yourself over there. Stand your ground for your morals and make it known you are not a person to mess with. Just don’t forget about us in the process.” Her face was soaked, her eyes had released the floodgates.
“I won’t, I promise you gramamaw. And if I did, there would be hell to pay.”
“That’s right, my sweet granddaughter. Stay true to who you are. And you’ll go far.”
Someone clears their throat in the doorway. “Carrie, do you want me to make you breakfast? One last time?”
I don’t want to say yes, because I don’t want it to be ‘the last time.’ I want to have more breakfasts made by mom. I don’t want it to ever stop. But I say yes, since both mom and I need one more morning with semi-normalness.
I finish packing my suitcase, just as mom hollers up the stairs like she did every morning when food was ready. My eyes began to prickle with tears for the umpteenth time, but I just kept burying them. I should probably pack my makeup in my carry on. Don’t want to make a bad first impression on anybody.
Heading downstairs, for the last time, the smell of pancakes invade my nose and I inhale deeply. The scent is so welcoming and homey, almost making me forget about what was going to happen later on. Almost.
“Made chocolate chip and plain pancakes. Wasn’t sure which one you would want.”
“It’s perfect mom. Thank you!” I grab a plate and stack it high with food, feeling some
eyes boring into my head. I turn around, expecting Krista, but receiving the guards. “Did I miss something?” I ask them.
“No, we’re just astonished you can pack that much away. But you’ll feel it at practice later on.” One of the duo remarks.
“Man, I thought we both agreed neither of us would speak to her until we left! Remember it’s going to be way different for her, since she’s moving countries away! Now, turn back around and do your job!” His partner said. I think I like this one.
“Carrie, honey? I’m sorry to interupt, but most of your family will be here soon, and shortly after we have to leave.” Krista says. I can hear the regret in her voice, knowing how much I didn’t want to think about it until it was time. And I’m grateful for it. But it still stings to realize it’s going to happen soon.
“Ok, thanks for the heads up Krista.”
I grab my pancakes, now covered in some butter and a dish of syrup on the plate, sitting down next to mom. Eating only made me feel more nauseous, but I hid it. Taking random pictures of things and moments for memory’s sake, I got some funny ones of mom and grandma, saving them to laugh about later.
Too soon, my family arrived, and they were armed with cameras and pictures. Cameras to take pictures, and the pictures were to be left with me, to come with and look back at later on. Some of my neighbors came out, probably due to the large crowd gathered in our driveway. One of my neighbors, a lovely family I babysat for, came over to ask what was going on. I told them, and they were surprised, but not at the same time. I used to sing a lot while getting their youngest to sleep, while they were walking through the door. So they knew what my voice sounded like and agreed TS would’ve been crazy not to accept me. I could tell the guards attention was more focused on the neighbors, since they weren’t at my grad party. But it was all just silly overreactions. I live in a good neighborhood, with no violence.
But, just like Krista said, shortly after everyone showed up to see me off, we had to leave. And this is when I felt my heart breaking. This is something I’ve wanted for years, and it doesn’t make any sense! I had been preparing myself for this day, knowing it was always a possibility. But I think I underestimated how much I cared about my family. And that was the extra knife right next to my heart.
I said my final goodbyes, all while making sure I had everyone’s Skype name and they had mine. They know I might not answer half the time, but I did make them promises to call them back asap. After my suitcase was safely in the trunk, I slowly climbed into the car, waving and replying to everyone. The door shut, and immediately I rolled my window down, just for those last glimpses as we drove off. I was in the backseat with Krista, and the guards were in front. Once we turned off my street, I let each tear flow freely from my eyes. I started sobbing, and one of the two turned around to see if I was ok, and Krista just shooed him back around. She held onto me, wrapping me in a blanket from home and let me cry onto her shoulder for as long as needed. Soon I fell silent, worn out from all the crying I just did. Krista never let me go.
We neared the airport, and she lifted my chin, grabbing a tissue to wipe up my face. Apparently when makeup companies say waterproof, they don’t mean ‘you can cry for hours on end without it becoming streaky.’ It actually means ‘if you get squirted by a squirt bottle like a cat would, you’ll be fine. But no more than that.’ Krista made the guard I ike hop out of the car and grab my carry-on when we parked, to help me keep appearances. And I could tell she knew this would happen again on the flight, as there was a look in her eyes saying she was trying to figure out a way to keep it from happening.
Each aspect of security went fine, as did boarding. Finding our seats, I learned the friendly guard is Neil, and American-born, Korean-raised man of 26. And his partner, who I’ve taken the liberty of nicknaming Mr. Grouchy-Pants, is Siyoung, and doesn’t have much patience for almost anything. I don’t think I’ll call him Siyoung mentally, but I will have to call him properly in conversation. It’s almost like Marlene became a guard just to irritate me again.
Somehow, The flight went smoothly, and Krista successfully helped me transition from home to the reality of my new life in Korea. I slept, read some books, chatted, and ate. We landed without issue, and this is where everything is different. Instead of a hotel, I get my own room in the dorms. And seeing all the other trainees as well as the ones soon to debut and even Idols! That alone is enough to throw me off my groove.
Apparently Jung Nam had put in a request to make sure there were empty rooms around me, designated for the rest of my group. He did make a short stop to say hi, and explain a few things to me, but he was on a tight schedule. Jung Nam was working on watching and listening to audition tapes, trying to find new trainees and think about possible members for my group and come up with concepts for us. He did say I would have tomorrow to settle in, as well as Siyoung and Neil were assigned to my group. But for now they were stuck with only me, until more members came to be. If he found some possible members, we would all meet, and no one was to know I was already signed. They were to believe I was there to try out like they were, and the truth would come out later. But this was just to keep the field even and prevent anyone from acting differently.
Luckily for me, Krista was rooming close, but not the same building. We could see the other from our windows, and had fun with that my first night. It felt so weird to know this was my room, and it took me some time to get used to it. Eventually the fatigue set in, and I figured I would decorate my room tomorrow, when I woke up and had some energy to do things.
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