I wake up and immediately jump out of bed. It’s Easter!, I think. I run outside, greeted by the fresh smell of the flowers that my mom had painstakingly grown and cultivated outside in her garden. I start in the backyard, keeping my eyes peeled for a sight of something round, something white, something with color. I decide to start in the huge two-car garage, carefully looking in the cups on the shelves and the big gray industrial-sized toolbox of my dad’s, while trying to ignore the cobwebs that litter the corners in the garage. I then spot my bike, a treasured gift from Santa Claus, or so I thought. There’s a pink woven basket attached to the handlebars. I peer inside the basket, and then bingo!, there it is. One down, eleven more to go.
Feeling that short burst of confidence that could only come from having accomplished something, I set to work looking for the rest of them. Since I’m in the garage, I look over it, more carefully and thoroughly this time. My stomach still upends rather unpleasantly at the cobwebs, and I avoid touching them. After a carefully practiced and inquisitive twice over, I leave the dark sanctuary of the garage.
Next, I head down the driveway, make a left down a narrow walkway until I find myself standing on the patio. Here, there is a huge glass table and four chairs, remnants from the very first house that I’ve ever lived in when I was just a baby. Despite being outside, the table is clean, suggesting that my mom has recently cleaned it with a wet sponge. There’s also a behemoth of a machine tucked toward the back, nestled close to the house, every once in awhile giving off roaring and whizzing sounds, suggesting that the air conditioner is on inside. Next to the machine are more cobwebs and dust.
There’s nothing on the table, or even in the chairs, so I turn my back on it, trying to ignore the angry grunts coming from the behemoth behind me. Instead, my eyes settle on two swans, each tucked into one another, and forming that of a fountain. But that the fountain hasn’t worked in years, having broken apart by nature’s fury the last time that strong tornado winds swept the area. It is still there though as a reminder of what happens when beauty and order are disrupted.
As I am musing, I suddenly spot the other one. On top of the swans is what resembles a flower opening up. And from within the center of that flower is a single egg. For a moment, I am struck by how much the egg blends in with the fountain. But then the image disappears, I shake my head to clear it, and then I reach over to grab it, disrupting the illusion for good. Carefully, I place this second treasure inside my Easter basket. Two down, 10 more to go.
Twenty minutes later, I find the next five eggs in the backyard. Two I find on the back steps leading up to the garage, another one I find under a tree at the far corner of the backyard, another one leading to the shed, and yet another one I find under a giant tree with a think trunk and sprawling branches, the leaves green and full, looking back at me dismally. I look back, reflecting upon a grandmother who would sit under that tree, a cigarette at her lips, as she look toward the far away place beyond the backyard, beyond the reach of any of us, looking toward a past in which I wasn’t a part of.
I shake my head to clear it. I glance down at my Easter basket. Half way to go. Less than half way to go, I correct myself, thinking of the seven already found. I then turn away from my grandmother’s tree, half skipping. I head inside and immediately I am greeted by the smell of kimchi wafting toward me, and immediately I think of kimchi jigae and my stomach growls in response. I walk past the kitchen, Easter basket in toll, and sure enough see my mother sitting on the floor, her gloved hands red and covered in kimchi juice. I want to stop and taste the kimchi, but the lure of the rest of the eggs urge me forward. I have a purpose that I must fulfill first.
I head to the pantry, just off the kitchen, and open the door, seeing the boxes of popcorn and the Little Debbie cakes and the cookies. And then nestled in the back behind the box of Little Debbie brownies is a single egg, looking completely out of place. Knowing that I am nearly done, I turn away and head to the spare bedroom. I scan my eyes around the room quickly, looking for the glimmer of something colorful. And then, on my mom’s vanity, reflected in the mirror, is an egg. I approach, seeing myself for the first time since that morning, and for a moment I peer into my brown eyes, currently alight with excitement, and gaze at my dark hair currently tossed behind my shoulders, and one which is a source of complaint for my mom every time she spots a strand of hair on the kitchen floor. Eight down, four more to go.
I then head out of the room, down the short hallway, and into my bedroom. For a moment, I cast my eyes upon the unmade bed, my desk and my backpack containing yesterday’s homework, and then the old traditional Korean furnishings, which I both hated and loved due to the very nature of it being old. I cast my eyes away from that, however, and glance up at the two windows, both of which are shaped in a perfect square. I notice that one of the windows’ blinds has been raised. I frown, wondering why the blind was up. Immediately suspicious, I approach the window and, behold, I see something that causes my heart to beat ever faster. There, lying on the windowsill is a single egg. This one is white, and it miraculously, manages to be camouflaged by the white surroundings. Nine down, three more to go.
My heart skipping in excitement at the prospect of having nearly finished and peeling the eggs to eat them, I then look around my room once more. I open the closet doors. The closet has served as a hiding place once or twice before during a particularly exciting game of hide-n-seek. I let my eyes gaze at the rows of hanging clothes, the folded clothes on the shelves, and the toys littering the floor of the closet. I don’t see an egg. Disappointed, because I was sure that there would be an egg there. But then, I remember the highest shelf in the closet. I stand up on my tiptoes, and reach up high, letting my fingers slide over the top of the shelf, and then I feel something. It’s hard, it’s round, and amazingly enough, it doesn’t crack from the pressure. I pull it the treasure toward me, dropping it into the basket not as careful as I should have been. Ten down, two more to go.
Only two left now, I repeat to myself, almost in a sing-song manner. I am about to leave my room, when something stops me. I turn back and look back at the Korean furnishings, my desk, my closet, the two windows looking more like eyes gazing at me ever persistently with an all-knowing eye. I get down on my hands and knees and look under the bed. Under the bed, there is a hodgepodge of board games and other scattered remnants collected over the past month. With my hands, I push past the remnants, using stronger force than necessary to push the board games out of the way, and once my way is clear, I spot the thing that I have been looking for. It is the penultimate egg. Eleven down, one more to go, I think as I reach to grab it and carefully this time, put it into the basket with the other treasures.
Now, only the last egg left. Brooding, I wonder where it could be hiding. But I also can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. Once this final egg is found, the game is over. There won’t be anymore looking, not until last year. Wanting to put off the inevitable, I trudge along. I pass my parents’ bedroom without a glance, thinking that it won’t be in there. I also pass the bathroom as well. Instead, I head for the massive dining room. I stand in the middle of it, letting my eyes scan the wooden Korean furnishings, the small TV, the wooden dining room table and four chairs, and a huge desk with a windows 98 computer, the screen currently turned off.
The desk is its usual mess, littered with paper, and probably the messiest thing in the room. Smirking slightly, I turn away from the sight, listening to the sounds of my mom in the kitchen, as the smell of kimchi wafts toward me again. For a moment, I contemplate stopping the hunt to have a bite, but something roots me to the spot. The desire to finish what I started.
Several minutes later, I come to the conclusion that there is no egg in here. I walk over to the front door, open it, and glance outside at the porch. It is empty except for two chairs. There is no egg.
I then head back inside, this time going to the bathroom. Again, waves of disappointment washes over me as I look at the toilet, sink, and bathtub. I see nothing that shouldn’t be there. At last, I head for my parents’ bedroom, tiptoe inside, trying to be quiet at my dad’s quiet, sleeping figure under the covers. I glance at the bed, the two nightstands, and then across from me, almost as if it is waving in a friendly manner, I see it. I see the egg.
Being as quiet as I can, I reach up and grab the egg from on top of the dresser. Carefully, I tuck it inside the Easter basket, tiptoe out of the room, closing the door behind me. I can hardly stand being quiet and it is only when I am outside that I stare down at the eggs, a slow smile creeping over my face. I see the eggs that were painted and decorated just yesterday. I see the things that I worked so hard to find, now in my possession. I imagine peeling the egg shells, dipping them into salt, and then taking a bite.
This is why Easter is my favorite childhood holiday. This entire morning of finding the eggs is better than a Christmas morning of the unadulterated unwrapping of gifts. This is better than getting a huge pile of gifts from Santa Claus. The after effect moment that only comes about after hard work, dedication, and determination is the best. Nothing can compare to the moment of finding a treasure in your own home.