What my Lyft driver taught me about my parents

My Lyft driver from LAX to home was a middle-aged Korean man. I knew he was Korean because of the name displayed in the app but I still cautiously asked what his nationality was – in English at first. In his second language, he said Yes and fell into awkward silence. Middle-aged Korean men don’t find too many things in common with Americanized women in their 20’s. That’s a generalization, but one I feel safe making lol.

I asked him a couple other questions and randomly inserted a Korean word – more like a sound or tone, really – that gave away my nationality. The moment I let the sound slip into our conversation, his face perked up, he turned his head quickly with wide eyes, and he asked almost incredulously if I was Korean – in Korean.

From there, it was nonstop conversation. I asked about when he came to the States, what he enjoys doing, about his two children, what he would do in life if money wasn’t an issue.

Then we got to talking about whether I was married (not surprised lol) and I said no, that I’m dating someone from the other side of the country. I feel like love and relationships are a common interest among people regardless of age, gender, background lol.

I asked him how he met his wife. He shared that he had moved from Miami to LA in search of a wife after a few failed long-distance relationships. He eventually was introduced to his wife in LA and they got married and had two girls.

Then, he volunteered that he had been wanting to be in a relationship for a very long time and when he finally got one, he didn’t understand what the big deal was about. He described it along the lines of “It’s like when you eat your meals – you don’t even realize you’re eating. Marriage is like that. You don’t even realize that you’re married, you just live.”

He backed it up by saying after having children, his wife’s undivided attention went to raising their two girls.

Immediately that caught my attention because… that sounded exactly like my mom. And for a split second, I saw my dad in this man. I saw generations of Korean parents and their children living in disconnect. I imagined that he, in all his honest reflection, didn’t know what he was looking for and how to obtain it.

I thought about his little girls, whom he adores but keeps at an arms distance because they are more of a nuisance sometimes, because they “took” away the love and attention of a person he had sought so hard and long for. I thought about his wife who might find her worth and purpose in raising her offspring and, in turn, detaching herself from her mate.

It was an interesting moment of clarity. I could see myself in the middle of my parents’ relationship, see my mom’s part and my dad’s part. I could see the culture in which I was raised, the culture in which they were raised in order to re-create this in their own home together.

In that clarity, I could no longer judge my parents. I felt compassion for my dad for his own tragedy and for my mom for her own way of thinking. No one was at fault. It just was. It just is.

And that’s okay.

Thank you Lyft driver. Your willingness to share has changed my life in a little and huge way.

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