Saturday, April 4, 2009

welcome to korea (part 12)

the flight from portland to seoul was a long 16 hours, including a 2 hour layover at narita airport in tokyo. i had slammed two double shot bloody marys before boarding the plane, in hopes they would knock me out. instead they merely reduced me to a slightly drunken mess that had to pee every hour or two. i dozed in and out of a few brief catnaps, and upon waking would check the flight map to see how far from home, how close to asia we were. it was a strange feeling to see the little cartoon plane so far out to sea. so far from everywhere i had ever been. so close to adventure, to mystery, to my ex. i lost myself in the vast sea below.

when i deboarded the plane in seoul i was immediately faced with my reality. i was farther from home than i'd ever been, in a foreign place, about to meet to complete strangers with whom i'd spend the next 3 and a half weeks of my life. two complete strangers with whom we'd have to rely upon one another to travel through and experience so many new things. it was overwhelming, but so exciting. i was recharged and energized, even on no sleep for literally days.

i exited through the arrivals gate and into the lobby of the most beautiful airport i've ever seen. incheon airport truly is a marvel of luxury. corridors of high ceilings, lined with orchids and sconces; high end shops as far as the eye could see: dolce & gabana, fendi, marc jacobs, rolex and so forth and so on. it's almost a place you'd want to spend a day, watching exciting travelers walk and shop and talk their ways to new places, to loved ones, to grander and wider days away.

i planted myself on a bench in the lobby, not quite sure what to do. there was no sign of robert nor monique, i had no phone, no idea how to get anywhere. after about ten minutes i began to panic a bit. i was alone, in the middle of night, and-

then i saw two small figures rushing toward me at full speed, clad in backpacks, laughter and grins. once they were close enough to identify, robert and monique immediately swung around and continued on, at full speed, away from me down the corridor. robert was tall, lanky, awkward and eminated fun and excitement and energy and was just a supernova unto himself. monique's curly hair was shaped into a high mohawk and dyed yellow, pink and black. it was hard to take your eyes off. i smiled, too tired to chase or even get off the bench. i stood upon it instead, crossed my arms, and tapped my foot with exaggerated impatience. they stopped in their tracks, turned around, and then almost aimlessly returned to me with hugs and hellos.

i was too overwhelmed and exhausted to make any opinions on the greeting; and just happy to make our way to the guesthouse, where i was told i could nap for an hour. it was now twilight in seoul, and robert had big plans for us. we made it to the bus terminal in time to find we'd missed our bus back to the city. with the little korean robert knows and his massive amounts of charm, we were able to exchange our bus tickets for cab fare. thank god.

we rode the twenty miles into the city quietly and with wide eyes. i watched the mud flats of incheon spread and thicken and harden into soil through the cracked windows of the cab. and suddenly the dark and dense no where broke into the bright lights of one of the largest cities in the world. we crossed the river into a blur of sounds and signs and insanity. it was exhillerating. we rolled the windows down entirely and let the wind wisp across our faces as we drown in the expanse. i turned to robert and smiled.

"welcome to korea, monkey."

No comments: