Monday, May 13, 2013

Is there a doctor on the plane?

Considering the number of flights I have been on in my time, you think I would have heard this more often. However, I have not ever in fact had my flightor my movie watchinginterrupted by the request for a doctor on the flight.

Leaving Seoul again, the madcap rush packing, which I put off to the last minute. An empty suitcase on my bed stuffed with clothes and gear. The likelihood of which will be more used ends up coming up gear more often then clothes, as I know me, and I hardly ever wear any of the clothing I pack. Yet it seemed silly to bring nothing else with me in the suitcase.

Trains, trains, trains, walking, saying goodbye. The trip felt like it had too many goodbyes and I didn't know how to rectify all of them. Everything keeps changing. Korea changes.

The weather was exceptionally warm before I left, tedious after the ten months of winter we had. I wanted the warm, but I wanted time to enjoy the warm, to bask in it, to glow. Instead I had sweat over packing, and then running down the street to get to the train, sweat in my clothes, smelling like sweat when I got to the airport. The sudden realization that I had no time to eat. Thirteen-hour flights, layovers, all sorts of running.

Over the breakfast table the Author was sitting with me, a last goodbye, a final goodbye, or at least the final in person for a while with me on the other side of the planet.

"Should I get the upgrade for a 100-odd dollars?"

I did pretty well with the flight and in the end I did it anyway. I quoted the cost to the Author.

"That comes out to about thirteen dollars an hour for comfort," he said. Which required a high five.

He walked me to the train, more goodbyes, I didn't cry this time, not like the crying over the Irish that morning.

"I just feel superfluous," I said to the Irish.

"You are always like this just before you fly."

"I am not,"  I cried into his shirt as he tried desperately to flee away to work.

(I am always like this right before I fly, especially when the air is laced with so much uncertainty and my brain is fixated and filled with lassitude.)

"I am not."

"I'm going to miss you. Now shut up and give me a hug and let me get my train."

I'd settled in for a few movies. Having been up since three a.m. it was tempting to sleep but I knew at best it would be napping, and napping would not do it on a thirteen-hour flight. The couple sitting next to me were older, seasoned travelers. We talked for a bit. They asked me about my job. I told them I was a writer. They told me they were visiting children in Korea. I gave them my carbs and they returned the favor with peanuts I could eat.

The flight was overflowing with movies to watch and I chose comedies throughout. I needed giggles. It was during one of these forgetful films that the request for a doctor went off, which included the seat numberwhich happened to be just behind my seat. None of the comedies was Airplane!. Neck craning ensued, and there was certainly drama, but it was almost impossible to tell what was going on. The more seasoned travelers next to me sent an envoy to spy and scope out the situation. I suppose (had I really wanted to know) I could have asked.

After six hours of sleep I woke up in time for one more film before my layover. Transferring in America and not in Chicago was always strange, full of accents and outfits and all manner of Americana that felt just south of home. The pop culture sports fetish bar scene was strange. Travelers who discussed their various exploits over time, the odd person overlooking me in a bar. I wondered what I look like to them, with all my years of Asia riding me. I realized I hadn't slept in ten days. Maybe it was the stress of travel.

I ordered another glass of wine during the layover, I write my blog.

As far as I could tell there was no doctor on the plane.

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