Sunday, October 28, 2007

Travelogue #1: The Flight with Richard Farnsworth

October 23 2007

I'm not very bright, am I?

Sitting in the Chicago airport...hear guys speaking Korean, I think, because I hear "yo" at the end of their sentences and I think I hear somebody say "annyong" which is the beginning of hello...I keep saying I think because I don't know shit about Korean.

I figure now would be a smart time to take out my Korean Phrasebook and see if I can discern any words I hear around me. I keep the Phrasebook in the laptop case...I think. Fuck, where is it? I scramble through the case, through my backpack. No way. No way did I just lose my learn-Korean book on a plane to Chicago. No way. I'm not even in San Francisco yet, much less Seoul. No way.

God. I lost it. I hear my mom's voice in my head: "Not surprised," this voice says lightly, "it wouldn't be you if you wouldn't lose anything." Then my dad, same words, different tone: "not surprised."

I need to stop losing things.

I don't know how to inflate my travel pillow. I huff and I puff but I put nothing but slobber on that plastic nozzle. I must be missing some simple step...I think about finding a pretty girl to help me out. "Excuse me, miss, can you please inflate my travel pillow?"

Have you heard a better opening line? Never.

I didn't go to sleep last night- trying to force myself into an easier transition to Seoul time, which is fourteen hours ahead of Memphis. I'm tired, but hopefully I'll get some sleep on the way to San Francisco, travel pillow or no.

October 24 2007 I-Don't-Know-What-Time

We're crossing the Bering Strait. Yeah. The Bering Strait. I know this because I'm watching the digital map unfold in the seatback in front of me. Four hours aboard, seven to go till arrival in Seoul.

An attractive Korean girl just so happened to claim the seat next to mine. Either she was irrepressibly turned on by my red-eyed traveler's charisma, or else her seat was assigned. Either/or. I guess she's a Korean-American rather than straight-up Korean because she's reading that new Stephen Colbert book. I drum up some small talk before the flight takes off, and I learn than she's visiting her grandmother in Seoul for a couple weeks. She graduated from University of Maryland- College Park in 2004. Now she's an engineer.

She makes faces when I tell her I'm on my way to teach English for a year in Bundang, faces that say you're-kind-of-crazy-dude rather than you're-kind-of-crazy-and-cool-dude.

Our pilot's name is Richard Farnsworth. Seriously. Doesn't it sound like, with a name like Richard Farnsworth, the dude was born for to sole purpose of being a pilot. I tell this to the girl, but she smiles a just-being-polite smile. I consider asking for her name, but she puts on her headphones. Whatever. She didn't think the Farnsworth thing was funny? Well, fine then. I'll entertain myself by watching Robin Williams pretend that he's a priest.

I think it's starting to hit me, that is, the whole distance thing. I nap, I wake, I watch Knocked Up, I nap, I wake, I sit. Steady suction of air in the cabin, that sound, that hum, with every beat I become farther and farther away from home.

I'm looking for a song to speak to how I feel now, but I can't quite find one. Every one I've first heard far away from here, from this seat, from this flight. Another world. Coming, going.

October 24

About to land.

God, am I really doing this? For a year? Me?


1 comment:

Steph said...

So I'm gearing up to go to London in a couple weeks, which is no way near as far away and foreign as Korea, and am starting to totally freak out inside. Your posts make me feel quite a bit better- thanks Alex!