Monday, August 31, 2009

It Takes a Village to Get Me to Seoul

[Actual Date: July 17-July 25, 2009]

I travel by serendipity, interspersed by occasional bouts of panic when my very loosely assembled plans fall through. It was in such a manner that I journeyed to Seoul.

My initial itinerary was to go from my parents' house in mid-Ohio up to Sandusky, OH, where I would meet my friend David and three of his friends who were all going to Ann Arbor for the weekend. Once in Ann Arbor, I would stay with a couple of other friends, Matt and Angie. While in Ann Arbor, I was then to meet my friend Brian, who had tentative plans for being in town that weekend and then driving back to Chicago. I would return to Chicago with him and stay for the few days it would take until I completed my visa interview at the “nearest Korean embassy,” and then I would take a flight from there to Seoul. Easy, right?

Of course, the best laid plans are reputed to fall apart, and these weren't the best laid plans by any means, but merely an A to B to C to D itinerary I'd constructed within a few minutes. I managed to get to Ann Arbor and spent the weekend dancing and chatting with friends, but then became somewhat trapped there when my Chicagoan friend got called out of town by his work. I then was left without a ride to Chicago and without a place to stay. In addition to these handicaps, I also had in my possession a strong contender for entering the Guinness Book as the world's heaviest collection of suitcases. The second biggest one was so heavy that I could only move it by kicking it. In order to move my largest suitcase, which was monster-sized,* I resorted to staring dejectedly at the bag and then looking pointedly at the strongest of my male friends.

Before panic at my dilemma had completely overwhelmed me, I mentioned the situation to one of my Ohioan friends, Neil, who introduced me to Kristine, his girlfriend, who lives in Chicago. Kristine and her friend Emily included me in their carpool from Ann Arbor to Chicago. On that same Sunday morning, I made a phone call to my cousin D., who let me into her downtown apartment later that night and welcomed me to stay until my plane left Chicago six days later.

It is only with the greatest restraint that I refrain from using the adjectives wonderful, gracious, and amazing at every mention of all these people. I'm typing this blog entry on my desk in Seoul, where I arrived safely in large part due to the help and kindness of warm-hearted people and dear friends.

*comfortably fits a small to medium-sized ogre

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