Today has been the longest day of my life so far. My day began at around midnight, I was leaving Chiang Mai on my way to South Korea. The flight was uneventful, except that I had been asked to switch seats with someone else who preferred the aisle seats. When I got to Seoul, I was rather tired, a bit hungry (even though I had eaten breakfast on the plane), and I was able to get some short messages and facebook updates out before the computer’s inability to handle wordpress prevented me from writing a short blog entry or checking my stats. Feeling like I was about to crash, I went back inside the security area and found one of Seoul’s traveler “hotels” to stay in.
It should be commented that the people who go to Seoul’s airport, which is a strange mixture of its older airport and a very new and well-designed new one, feel pretty comfortable sleeping anywhere. That’s what I did, after all. After sleeping about four hours in the traveler’s motel, I found some lunch and then went to my gate to wait for a few more hours. While there I napped some more on chairs, and met a couple of very interesting New Zealanders. One young woman was pretty friendly, and then she excitedly kept reading 50 Shades of Gray. I felt too embarrassed to talk to her after that. Then there came an older woman on her way back from a triennial international conference for women. We talked about Korea, her work as a facilitator for those women who have suffered violence and need resources, and about other related subjects. I found her to be engaging, and we chatted until she was called by the PA system to her gate. Then I had some sweet tea and got on my plane.
On the way from Seoul to Vancouver I found that some sons were definitely themes for this trip, some of them for ironic reasons, perhaps: “Roll With The Punches,” by Lenka, “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train, and “My Love” by Westlife. Definitely, some of those sons are highly ironic in light of circumstances. Next to me in the plane there was a friendly elderly couple from South Korea who were in their 70’s but looked about twenty years younger. The wife sat next to me and teasingly adopted me. This is a somewhat common thread; I must look like some kind of lost puppy dog sometimes. I also listened to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius on that plane trip, and though the book is a bit repetitive, its main message is very useful in these days, with the concern about virtue and forebearance. The book told me things I needed to hear, and apply, and so despite its flaws it is a worthwhile book, even it places far much merch on merit and far too litle with God’s grace.
In Vancouver I found it impossible to locate a phone to chat with others. I also had to deal with some oddness. The Air CAnada workers I met in Vancouver were all friendly and honest and sociable people, and I was refreshed by their blunt candor, which is a quality I tend to share. I was also a bit puzzled by how I managed to need to do both customs for Canada and the United States in the same city, making me wonder whether Vancouver was some test in how a city can belong to multiple nations for the purposes of customs and rules without leading to any lessening of bureaucracy in so doing (at least I didn’t have to do customs in Portland; I was too tired by then). The Canadian customs people thought it a bit strange that I would be in Vancouver for seven hours without needing to leave the airport. Since I was trying to save my money, considering that I was fairly ravenous (in Vancouver I had my second lunch of the day), and since I did not see any Bryan Adams tours there, I stayed in the airport and engaged in my people watching, hearing a couple of beautiful young ladies talk about their love problems (that somehow seemed less serious than what I have had to deal with recently), and had the opportunity to show some generosity and enjoy some friendly chatter with a few random strangers (which I greatly appreciated), before flying to Portland with a crew that refreshingly honestly had openly talked about the loopholes in their work rules that had led them to work harder than is legally allowed, while I had been waiting at the gate for my last flight.
At Portland I did not see my friend, so I proceeded to pick up my bags and then wait, not knowing where among the many places she would be found, but as I was striking up a conversation with a Canadian who had visited Portland via San Francisco and found my accent to be Canadian (it is a common guess, and not entirely mistaken). I chatted with my friend, had another dinner (I was still a bit ravenous, and I found Five Guys to be quite tasty if a little large on the serving sizes), and then I did my best to be friendly and chatty despite my exhaustion only to be awoken after sleeping for an hour or two by a leg cramp. So went the longest day of my life. I’m exhausted, still feeling as if what has happened has not really happened; it doesn’t seem real yet. I still feel a bit in shock about everything. I suppose it will take some time to sink in, but I have a lot of preparing and work to do in the morning. I’d like to get some blessed sleep, though, and do my best to recover my good health and anything else I can rebuild along the way.