Saturday, July 30, 2005

James and Annie

I used to have a younger step sister and an older step brother. Raul always gets freaked out when I talk about them. My mother got remarried when I was in sixth grade and it only lasted until I was in 9th grade. They were Korean in a way that we were not. Paul and I were unruly kids running around like little savages. I remember when James (my step brother) got in trouble, my stepfather would make him kneel with his head bowed and say, "yes sir" as he was lectured to for hours. And every once in a while, he'd get a good whack across the head and would barely be allowed to wince. Needless to say, James was always sullen and incredibly angry. We didn't really get along all that much. Annie (my step sister) was five years younger than me. Paul and I terrorized her the way any youngest child should be. I loved her and lavished attention on her - though not all of it was nice. I once invented a game called, "shooting the monkey in the tree" and shot her in the butt with a bee bee gun. I still can't believe I played that game. I'm aweful. I know. After the seperation, they just fell out of our lives. My step dad moved to Korea and left Annie with James in Philly. I ran into her once when I was in highschool. She must have been 12. I felt bad for her because it was obvious there wasn't really anyone taking care of her or even to help brush her hair. The last time I saw James, I think he may have hit on me.

All these memories came back to me as I drove by the place my mother's old grocery store was while at home this past week: Best Food Market. They opened the store together in '91 but eventually, my mother obtained full ownership and changed the name to S & H Food Market. I remember when my sister tried to explain to her that the '&' didn't make sense since it was one person, one name. She responded, "Right. That's my name - S & H for Shin-Hee." I guess it was fitting.

S&H Food Market is now the Fruit of the Spirit fruits and vegatables store. But before the change, it was where I spent most my weekends and holidays working, the place where I witnessed my first shoot out, and got my first real glimpse into the racial mess between Koreans and Black-Americans. It was also the place where I got that little scar on my right leg, four inches above my knee when a sparrow had flown in through the door and knocked himself out while trying to fly out the window behind my head. It fell by my foot and in one frantic motion, I ran right into a rusted nail. Ouch.

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