Theft gives chance to focus on family

Theft gives chance to focus on family

Joanne Lee

The sound of rails screeching against the metal platform resonated throughout the entire metro chamber.
“Come on, Joanne!” my sister Gloria hollered.
I hastened my pace as I focused on the flashing lights of the subway train, which waited only for a brief time. Then, I felt it — a subtle, but noticeable vibration climbing along my bag. My bag.
As fast as light, I glanced at the brown pouch that hung behind my shoulders. I froze when I saw my handbag slightly open.
I tried to find out what was missing, and I looked for the robber, but before I could do anything, the last call for the subway forced me to board with the rest of my family, who were happily oblivious to my inner panic.
Looking through the murky windows of the metro train, my eyes darted frantically as I scanned the crowd of people.  I caught only a glimpse of the culprit, the back of a big gypsy-like figure. But even this little crumb of information I had was only a guess. I leaned my forehead against the grim glass.
As I felt the rhythmic clicks of the rails, my eyes peered helplessly into the racing blackness. Thoughts rushed through my head like blood out of a wound: Please, not my Passport, I’ll be stuck here… What if they want my 40 euros in my wallet?
I looked into the handbag expecting the worst; I realized my camera pouch containing my $250 Canon, a Christmas present only a few days old, along with my extra battery and 4GB memory chip with all my personal data. Gone. 
How could they be gone? No, no, no. I kept repeating that word in my head. I didn’t want to tell my sister, who had gifted me that camera only a few days earlier. How could I face my family? My mom paused her friendly chatter with Dad when she saw my horrified stare.
“Is something wrong, Joanne?” she said.
So I told my parents. While I was telling them, their faces gradually went from a curious grin to shocked bewilderment. Later, this news spread to my brother, and then to my sisters.
I expected mockery. After all, shouldn’t they fault this on me? They were supposed to say I should have stopped the robber when I could, that I was being careless. But to my surprise, they didn’t say anything along that.
My family members gathered around me.
“It’s OK, Joanne,” Gloria said. “I’m glad you weren’t attacked by the gypsy.”
“Yeah, gypsies can be dangerous. What if they stabbed you because you caught them?” my brother Daniel added.
It was sweet for them to be so embracing, but I still couldn’t forgive or forget what had just happened. This time I stuck close to the rest of my family members as we walked out into city from the metro.
As I thought about the robbery, I started to generalize the entire trip as having only the negatives.
Was this trip really worth the 14-hour flight and all the money? Why didn’t we just go to the Kansas City Crown Center where we could at least understand street signs?
Unlike the rest of my family, I was angry. Perhaps deep inside, I wanted them to agree with me and punish me because that would show they were upset. But, oddly, they seemed to shrug it off so easily, so fast.
Meanwhile, I only thought of how outrageous it was that our family had to go through these petty head-aching problems. I started to collect more reasons to justify my frustration. Those reasons were, for example, ordering the wrong food because of a slight mispronunciation or frequently being unable to find a bathroom, which is indeed, quite unpleasant.
Being deprived of much family time — my father was alone in Korea for a year and a half, and both my older sisters are enrolled in out-of-state colleges  —  I was looking forward to this trip, hoping it would be worthy of the long time I had to wait for it to arrive. However, I felt betrayed by my expectations.
Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my sister, Esther.
“Joanne, isn’t that beautiful?” she said.
I looked up, both away from my unpleasant thoughts and the dog manure on the sidewalk.
It was the Alhambra.
When I saw such surreal beauty accompanied by the uniform joy shared together with all my family members, those blips seemed irrelevant. Gazing at the magnificent castle with its brick walls glowing like gold, I realized misfortunes can happen anywhere and everywhere, but moments of beauty shared altogether with family come with limited times. Why should I dwell on the negatives when, in reality, I don’t even have much time to share the beautiful moment in life with those whom I love?
I felt as if I mentally gained a powerful weapon; even through the imperfections, my family will still be there for me. Never waste time dealing with what only embitters the situation. So my response to my sister’s perhaps rhetorical question was, “Yes, it’s beautiful.”
By Joanne Lee