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Daytona Beach Airport

The day was December 15th. I got to SFO around 8PM. There was traffic just two hundred feet from the entrance. People going home for the holidays.

After a slight delay, I got to ATL at 6AM. I think I slept, but at least I didn’t get a middle seat. I didn’t even get up to go pee. I was too tired. I started watching The Nightmare before Christmas, but my brain stopped processing images.

At the Atlanta airport, I got a Powerade and chugged it. Blue Powerade was always my go-to drink on field trips when I was little. That and my mom’s kimbap. I found an empty row of seats without arm rests. I just knocked out for two hours. I simply did not care.

On the ride home, there was a baby boy with his pet dinosaur bag. Same kind as mine. Cute todlers. His two older sisters and everyone just always has hearts around their eyes. You will too, when his brown, googly eyes which remind you of Prince William of GB have this pure joy sucks you in. Before getting off the plane, I took off my layer of jackets. It was time to prepare for warmth.

I arrive at DAB at 11:30AM. It is bright, humid, and 80 degrees warm, in December. This time, I didn’t have to wait for my bags to come out. I think there are only 6 gates at this airport. It’s really an ideal airport.

I arrive home, the door is unlocked. I walk in. I was surprised that Thor (my family dog) didn’t bark when he heard the uber car trunk close in the driveway. His sister had been MIA the last three months.

When I walk in, he is happy, but not as happy. Neither is my mom; she is still processing. She didn’t believe that I was coming when my dad had told her.

I ate her homemade dumplings and opened up my laptop…and the wifi won’t work. After five hours of wifi, I don’t even shower. I pop out my lenses, and go to bed at 6:30PM.

I wake up slightly at 8:30 AM. There’s a man with dark hair approaching me. Oh, it’s my dad. Right, that’s how the top of my dad’s head looks. It had been a while. I don’t say anything, we both don’t express our feelings much. We just never got to the ice breakers part in kindergarten I guess…He said bye to Thor and headed to work.

10AM. I have thoughts in my head, something I usually didn’t have when I woke up in my bed at home. The difference is that there are things that I know that I should do, and know how to handle them. Before this, it was get up and do whatever you feel like doing. Those kids who are excited for vacation from school, who spend all they carefully crafting their TV watch list and toy/doll line-up for the day. That kind of productivity. It’s a great way to survive when you are 8, but I am 23.

I took a shower. This shower was not just any shower. When I lathered my brother’s sandalwood body wash, it was this soul-soothing experience that cleansed away everything. I had forgotten how great a shower could be.

Afterwards, I grabbed a towel. All the towels were so neatly folded, like a hotel, but better, because it didn’t smell like bleach to rinse all the others who have used them. Mom’s touch. It’s home.

I go downstairs with my laptop and laundry. Of course, all the dishes are cleaned, and when I open the fridge, my mom says that she will set breakfast. Oh, I am in heaven.

I let Thor out to the lake to pee. It’s sunny. I did dab some sunscreen. It’s about time that I start having to worry about my skin aging. Outside in the corner next to the fence, there are some weights with rust on them. They are in the same position as I left them. Thor is sunbathing. He is roaming his territory underneath the sun. I am breathing in this clean, Florida air. Ah, this is amazing.

Home. After 15 hours of sleep and a good shower, I can finally say that I am home. Home. I am still me, but I am home. I think this whole time, I was trying to escape myself and my problems. That did not do anything. The only thing I could talk about were my experiences in which I tried hard and had progress from doing them consistently.

All of my reselling stock has been thrown out. I know now that spending four hours at the gym and beach everyday is a waste of gas and time in place of something lucrative I could do, or commit in a investment of time that will show its return only after a long-time. Now I will plan weekly and carve out time for non-priorities. I will not jump into doing something without research. Plan for a rainy day, and go to the doctors and dentists for a check-up. Pay for groceries. Have a savings goal that must be reached by a set deadline. Enjoy when you are out with your loved ones, because you made sure to leave our worries and priorities before meeting them.

I am writing this eating a Florida orange, and wiped my fingers on my shirt. I am wearing a 3XL t-shirt with a bleach stain somewhere, and definitely no pants. My hair is wet, and I have a nice cup of lukewarm watered-down coffee next to me.

It’s the last Friday before Christmas 2021. I am still in school, undecided, and home. The only thing that has changed overall is my age, but now it’s time to start all over again. I know my flaws, and which paths to not walk. I also know how to change to reduce the severity of my flaws. I have to see things through. Problems are always there, and always will be. I have to choose to take responsibility and go forward, not in circles.

Escaping my problems certainly made them worse. In the end, I had to do even more and almost lost everything. Problems snowball before your eyes. You realize then your true worth, hidden underneath your pride and lies. Luckily, I still have a home. I did not escape myself. I can never escape myself, only deal with the problems that come from the flaws.

Knowing this, the shower was soothing. Knowing this, I could listen better at the airports when I saw families. On the outside, everyone is happy to be home. On the inside, they are thinking about health, money, their kids future, their responsibilities, and work. They are not escaping their problems, however, and will enjoy time with their families. I just know now not to only see the good in things. I can now relate more to others’ struggles. And how does this change anything? Well, it makes me feel less lonely and left out. Knowing that everyone else also has problems won’t change your problems. However, it gives you the courage to hold your own weight. To be grateful for someone’s act of kindness, to appreciate what you already have.

For this, I have gotten my holiday present. I will take time to savor it, but my to-do list now has more: to give back. Not just solve my own, but to give back to all those who have been there when they needed a hand.

Happy holidays, to all. This winter is a warm one. Winter is also the time to prepare your tools to work in Spring.

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Ahyeon Cho

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