Jinah Rhee


about the writer

Jinah was born and raised for a bit in S. Korea, until her family moved to the U.S. in her early teens. She likes to write. 

instagram / portfolio

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In my childhood, I become aware - both slowly and suddenly, vaguely and sharply - of my sense of the other. Moments of realization that another person, no matter how familiar or strange, is an other person, who is not me, not at all.

I sometimes stare at someone’s face for a bit too long and everything suddenly seems odd: the way their mouths move at the corners as they pronounce words in ways I do not, the way their features look like arranged puzzle pieces, the way their eyes, alive, peer back into mine. Eyes looking at eyes. Once, laying in bed with mom in the dark blue of a late summer evening, seeing the traces of her face in the white moonlight, I find them foreign. Becoming frightened by the sense that she is another person – not my mom – I close my eyes and wait until the fear fades. It seems silly after a bit; it always does.

I sometimes stare at myself in the mirror and think: that is me, that is my small body. I am in that body, all of me, and I look like that to the world. Or do I, in other people’s eyes, which see in ways I can never see?  

In you, is a world                                                                                                                      

In our clumsy adolescence, I begin my search for the beginning of me.  

I find myself in a boy who I love with all my innocence; years later, I find myself having lost myself in a love lost. I find out that my own actions can betray my thoughts and feelings, that I could at once be trapped in my body and estranged from myself. I find that I reside somewhere between two identities and neither feels fully home, neither fully welcomes me home, and I’m left stuck in the middle, in some no man’s land of a venn diagram world, to stare at how perfect and celestial circles look.  

But eventually, I realize I don’t begin where others end, that I am not the sum of what I am and what I am not.

I realize that I am a world.   

Daughters

when I think about the time mom hugged me on our yellow couch as she finished crying,  

even though we do not hug normally,

and in her tireless softness told me that to hurt someone you love you must be hurting greatly, 

after I apologized in my ugly crying voice for my cruel, selfish need to tell her,

her, who keeps herself from sinking in the mute pain of a grown daughter’s heartbreak as her father, who she has little to talk about with but still calls in the morning to talk about nothing with before he falls asleep, dies,

that she does not understand me in my darkness, that we are different because we have different lives, separate lives, and just because she is my mother does not mean that she knows me in the way she did when I was merely a child now that I am older and am my own person and not her person any longer,  

I still feel like crying
like I did when she hugged me
for forgetting that I am not just me