People often refer to my two trips to Korea last year as "vacation."
Did you and your husband have fun on your vacation to Korea last year?
Wow, you must have had so much fun traveling to Korea on vacation last year?
Well, at least you got to go on vacation TWICE last year.
I don't think most people weep uncontrollably while on vacation. I don't think most people meet their biological mother and father for the first time in over three decades while on vacation.
I don't know that returning to the land from which you were cast out and seemingly irretrievably lost necessarily qualifies as a vacation. And I don't think that visiting the land where you were "orphaned" and left fatherless and motherless is necessarily the makings of a fun, restful, refreshing vacation.
Would you call a two week trip to visit your dying mother a vacation? Would you call a weekend trip to attend the funeral of a loved one a vacation? Would you refer to a trip to mediate between your divorced parents a vacation? Most people would not refer to such trips as "vacations."
To get technical, a vacation is defined as "an extended period of recreation" or "a respite or time of respite from something" (respite is defined as "a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant").
I think most would agree that the aforementioned circumstances would not qualify as recreation or as respite from something difficult or unpleasant, but rather quite the opposite.
What's my point?
I made two trips to Korea last year, one in June/July and one in September. People I know often seem to make the mistake of viewing these trips that I made as "vacation."
Although there were aspects of these two trips that involved some fun activities, emotionally these two trips hardly qualify as "vacation." In particular, the purpose of these trips was not recreation and respite. I didn't go to Korea for relaxation and rest or to galavant around the country.
I went to Korea to meet the mother who gave me away me only days after I was born and the father who never even saw me because my Korean mother disappeared on him and kept my relinquishment a secret from him until years later.
I went to Korea, a place where I died the same day that I was born, not to vacation, but to try to find answers that had eluded me all of my life. Korea is not a place of recreation and respite for me, but rather a place burdened with pain and loss, a place that stirs the deepest of heartache and a reservoir of ambivalence and sorrow.
So, please, don't make the mistake of correcting me when I say visiting Korea was not a vacation.
Visiting Korea, for me, is akin to visiting a broken home marred with dysfunction and a shared history of strife and loss, and yet simultaneously it inevitably draws me back by the bonds of a love and curiosity that both confound and comfort the restlessness within me that ultimately will never know peace.