Do your thing.
Do your thing.
… And the hook is the transfer point song. Genius.
I’ve been putting off writing the story of my South Korean adventure too long now for fear of the inevitable: suckiness. My sub-par writing skills, compared to the already published masterpieces of Kristina, could be found in the thesaurus under ‘boring’, ‘elementary’ and possibly even ‘shitty’. No turbulence. No real excitement. There will be no need to fasten your seat belt, no need to place your tray in its upright position, no nothing. Just sit back, relax and cruise on through.
My trip doesn’t begin in an airport or on a plane. It doesn’t even begin in Korea for that matter. It begins more than seven months before the prettiest girl in the world even showed up in what she has described as “the darling country of South Korea”. It started at Churchill’s Pub. I sat across the table from my then newish friend, listening to her tell me about her future plans. It would take me no time at all to realize that I didn’t like the idea. I’ve always had a thing for this friend and the thought of watching her leave was inconceivable.
A few weeks later I find myself driving to Atlanta at five o’clock in the morning to meet Kristina. We made plans to go to the aquarium together and whatever needed to be done to make that happen was what I was going to do. You see, this was my first date with my new girlfriend. A slight detail I failed to pass on to Kristina, by the way. Seriously though, who in the hell wakes up at four in the morning and makes an eight hour round trip to see fish with a ‘friend’? Not me. As I was getting ready to go back to Savannah, I receive a text message that read “please don’t leave without me!” I’m thinking: I got her! In actuality, Kristina had been sick and felt like going home a day earlier than she had originally planned. So as it turned out, it wasn’t my charm and classic good looks that roped her in. It wasn’t the enchantment under the sea or anything like that. It was Taco Bell the day before and a bad stomach to follow. But I’ll take her however I can.
A month or so goes by and the insane idea I had about her being my girlfriend becomes a reality, but this time with Kristina on the same page. September rolled up on us like a tidal wave. It was too big and too fast. It was impossible to outrun. All we could do was wait. By this time the conversation of me actually going to Korea had taken place several times and was pretty much a done deal. Now all I had to do was get there.
Finally, it’s April 16th. After boarding a couple of raging pieces of shit that I have come accustomed to our good ol’ American airline companies flying, I board what seems to be a brand new 777 flown by Asiana Airways. Although the trip from New York City to Seoul is somewhere in the 13 hour range, it could not have been more enjoyable. I highly recommend Asiana to anyone flying to any of their destinations. The flight crew is all professional, young, well-kempt and ready to give you the service you deserve for your money. It was quite the opposite, to say the least, of my latest experiences flying with other airlines.
Thirteen hours later there I am, South Korea. And there she is. It’s amazing that a simple smile can make all of the countless hours of phone calls, Skype video chats and Face book messaging worth it. Staring at someone through a computer screen does not closely compare to getting to see them in person even if it’s from across the room. We track down my bag and go out to the bus stop. My travels are almost over for now.
We get to Kristina’s apartment, drop my stuff off, and head out immediately. If I would have stopped I may have fallen over. We eat dinner, get drinks, and take a walk around the neighborhood. Whoa. For anyone reading this that may be prone to seizures, this is not your place. Every building is draped with flashing, pulsing, blinking and scrolling neon lights. It was a glittering madhouse of artificiality and advertisements. I’ll have to admit that I was a little freaked out at first. Being used to that slow southern stroll, I was caught off guard by the urgency of everything. Deliveries, taxis, people weaving in and out of other people. It was a ballet mixed with a demolition derby; but somehow it all worked.
While Kristina was at work I walked, a lot. I felt like the cowboy in the old western movie that passes the same rock or cactus in the background several times. After you’ve walked so far, you feel like you’re going in circles. The city was endless and everything started to look the same. Landmarks began to disappear into the distance but my curiosity kept me going forward into the craziness. When Kristina would get off of work the real fun started and I got to see the city as more of a resident than as a lost tourist.
The first weekend was spent in Seoul. Kristina and I got a hotel room and toured the city. It’s a pretty incredible place for a thousand reasons. We hiked through Namsan Park to the top of the mountain which happens to be the geographic center of Seoul. From there, I looked out onto one of the largest metropolitan areas on the planet (more than 22.5 million people). It was impressive to say the least.
During my second week, Kristina’s friend Maggie and her family took me to one of the observatories. Looking out over North Korea is kind of a creepy thing. I learned as much as I could from Maggie and tried to wrap my head around what it would be like to have an enemy like that right across a small river. I still can’t imagine it, but to them it’s no big deal and I think they’re just happy to be on the southern side of that river. The family was very hospitable and during the week I would meet with Maggie’s son, Ingyo, for a few games of pool and 3-cushion.
As the week went on the looming feeling of the end got heavier and heavier like the tidal wave in September. This time though, we were in the home stretch and it still sucked but just not as bad. Saturday came, I boarded the plane of my new favorite airline and 22 hours later I was back in Savannah. It was nice to be back on quiet streets but something, or should I say someone, was missing.
I realize that the details of my trip to Korea are vague at best. However, I feel that the real point of this story is more important. Not that I went, but why. The details are in the pictures and will be reliably filled in by Kristina, I’m sure. I wanted to let you know that my South Korean adventure started in a pub with a friend and not in Korea at all. I wanted to let you know that I took a trip to Kristina wherever she may be, at an aquarium, Korea, wherever. My two weeks there are finished now but the journey is endless. The story will continue when Kristina gets back home, safe and sound with the family and friends who love her the most. As for that part of the story, we’ll write it together.