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I think this is the first time we've met, so let me tell you a bit about myself.

You can try and guess my age, if you like, as long as you're not rude about it. I'm a lady, and I have my pride and feelings.

I was born at the end of the summer, near Paris; for all I know, it could have been near any other city in the industrialized world. My mother, my brother, and I, were relocating often, as we followed, or maybe chased after, my father, who was in his turn chasing opportunites at his job. Talk about the dedication of Korean men to their firms! Before we had the time to settle into one place, get accustomed, grow habits, make friends, and start to believe that yes, this time, we'd stay long enough to grow roots, snap! We were off to some other country, starting again elsewhere and hoping to find the soothing and numbing rhythm of a well-ordered daily life. Modern times' nomads, that's who we really were.

So, Paris it was, by the throw of dice, the flip of coins, or the flutter of a butterfly's wings.

At home, my mother was the person in charge of day-to-day matters: she was looking after us children, our clothes, our education, our meals, our schedules. She was the caring heart, the symbol of order, stability and reliability, the beacon we could turn to for support and love, in a life that was washing us away from shore to shore.

We were well-off. It's not the kind of thing I truly understood as a child, but with the years, I gained some perspective. If my father was running after money, well, he was successful at it. We never wanted for anything except his presence. The places we lived in were spacious, comfortable, quiet, always equipped with the latest amenities and gadgets. We had someone employed to come regularly and help my mom with the house chores. We had the clothes we liked; we children had the toys we wished for. In truth, we were spoiled.

I believe my father was a smart man; he had known poverty in his young years and was doing everything in his power to keep us out of need. Maybe this was his idea of success; maybe it was his revenge over the hard life he knew. Maybe it was his way of showing how much he loved us... To be honest, I think I would have prefered to live in a worse place, if it meant being able to see him everyday, to have him take me in his arms, kiss me,
pat on my head, listen and smile to my child stories. If he had been with us more, my mother would probably still be smiling.

I think my brother inherited my father's intellectual skills. No matter where we went, he was able to adapt quickly to the new environment and learn enough of the local language and social habits to make friends and find balance. I was jealous; it's hard to admit; even now, it hurts a bit to say it. But yes, that's what I was. I couldn't do the same; heck, I don't even know how he could. And he was simply too good at school as well. I'm the younger child: if you've had a brilliant elder brother, you know what I'm talking about. It simply felt like I was less important, less worthy, less capable. I couldn't assert myself with my studies; find balance, a feeling of being just at the right spot. I wasn't bad, but I was overshadowed. Would my mom love me even then? Was I worth it? I grew restless, irritable, afraid. I was looking for a way out of an issue I couldn't express clearly.

I won't get into more detail. That was a difficult time for me. Probably you'll think I'm just a spoiled brat, and making mountains out of molehills. And to be honest, now that I am an adult, I understand it was also a difficult time for my mom: she knew I was unhappy, and she was trying to help me. But I didn't see her intentions. I only saw all the praise that was going to my brother, and saw it as something that was being taken away from me, something that was substracted from my worth. As if love was measured in numbers! Brother, brother, won't you share? Won't you let me take what's mine? How stupid I was. Stupid, and maybe I was a bit too full of myself. Maybe I was too afraid to be honest?

But then, I found... something. The beginning of a path. This also happend at random, by the way. Some god out there must be throwing dice in his pastime. Or raising butterflies. Whatever. Some events in life just seem to happen out of the blue.

A few girls at my school were taking gym lessons. Not the kind you'd do to lose some unwelcome fat you'd gain back in a few weeks anyway, no. Something serious. Something bright, shiny. Magical. The kind of gym you'd see in sport events on youtube. And they were passionate about it. They shared pictures, videos. I was amazed, under a spell: they looked graceful, dynamic, resilient, nimble, and beautiful. I looked up to them, I wanted to be like them, I wanted to shine. I asked my mom to let me go to the gym school where the girls were taking lessons. She agreed.

It turned out I was really skilled. My teacher soon talked to my mom about sending me to a specialized school. She saw a promising future for me. I was thrilled. I went to that school. That is, until the next time we moved to another country. Because constantly moving to another place has a tendency to break your dreams.

But I didn't falter. I had found my dream, and I was intent on making it true. It was my own, it was what I would be. It was my path, away from my brother's shadow, stronger than the chaos thrown in our lives by my father's impredictable relocations. I became my dream. I let it define me, refine me. I became a gymnast.

I ran, jumped, twirled, stretched, dashed. I failed, fell down, ached, doubted. I struggled; I overcame obstacles. Obstacles! They are far easier to see in gymnastics than they are in an abstract world of ideas. If the bar is that high, then that's it. No lies, no tricks. You can feel its height with your body, you can feel how your jump will allow you to reach it, how you'll then jump to the next bar, twirl around it. The body becomes the momentum. The hips, belly, wrists all work together. It's like feeling you really inhabit your whole body, you're aware of each part, your consciousness extends from your fingers down to your toes. This is the kind of moment when I feel deeply, entirely, uncomprimisingly alive. This is when I find my worth; when I transcend everyday's life.

My father came to see my performances during competitions. I was so happy when I took a prize or a medal! I believe that, deeply inside me, I was doing all this for him. Look, dad! I won this for you! Won't you say you're proud of your daughter? And he smiled and embraced me. And I wept. And the next day, he was off to work again.