#1 The Origin

Every bus ride is an adventure and it all started with an episode…

Surprisingly I don’t remember too many bus rides from when I was tiny in Korea. They probably just weren’t as traumatic as the one I call the ride that stared my Taipei City life.We only just got settled in Taipei. Dad was busy with his seminary and umma would take me around the city.

These were the days without cell phones and “just Google Map it” where we, well umma, tried to figure out routes with her amazingly non-existent Mandarin skills. Of course, that didn’t matter–I was six and I trusted umma with all of my heart. It wasn’t long until that she would shatter my trust in her by taking the wrong bus.

We’re going to a department store, I remember umma saying. Department stores were my favorite–they had toys and McDonald’s, the two universal languages of little kids. I put on my comfy sneakers and asked umma for my orange-on-white Easy card. I held her hand tight as I asked her which number we were going to get on. Here is where my memory becomes a blur, she said a three digit number with the combinations of 2 and 6. For the story, let’s say she said 262 (as a matter of fact, a real bus number) so as I saw the gargantuan bus approach, I swung my arm up and down and followed umma into the mysterious 262.

It was 10 minutes into the ride that umma realized that we took the wrong number, thus the little confusion of 2s and 6s. All hell broke lose and little Amie began to bawl, sitting on the second front seat next to a window on the right. Umma crouched down to meet my eyes and tried to explain that we could get off the bus now and get on the right one. Like I would you trust you, is probably what I shouted, and I bawled until the-very-very-wrong-262 reached it’s last stop. At this point, the bus driver asked if we were getting off but little Amie said no, we’re going back to where we came from while umma said but Amie we can get on another bus. Little Amie with her sobbing face was convinced, that she knew better and umma with her 2s and 6s was too stupid to know how to get anywhere. Little Amie just knew she had good logic, and her umma just wasn’t good enough.

As I sniffled away, the wrong-but-correct-262 swung round back to our house. Now I felt safe to get off and take the other bus, 266 or something.

The funniest part of the story was that umma didn’t get angry. Although this memory is marked with fear and confusion, there is no hint of the rage of umma. On the contrary, even though I couldn’t trust her knowledge, I trusted her heart. I trusted that she would keep me safe and get us to the department store and back home. Amongst this strange feeling of being lost, there was warmth and comfort.

So did we get to our intended destination? Yes, I had McNuggets with my Happy Meal toy, it was probably a plastic Hello Kitty.