The plane lifts...
Trip Start Aug 25, 2012
17Trip End Feb 25, 2013
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Before too long we arrived at the airport, found the international terminal, and parked the car. We carried my luggage into the airport and Carlo was kind enough to stand in line with me while I waited to check in. We joked about the other passengers, trying to keep the mood light while we were waiting for me to disappear to the other side of the world.
Finally it was time. I needed to go through security to get to my gate. One last embrace and I needed to turn my back, looking forward to my new life for the next year. I steeled myself, holding myself tight and firm and focusing on what needed to be done. My laptop needed to be removed from my bag, my shoes needed to be removed, I needed to present my passport. No room for other thoughts. No room for regrets or excitement. I cruised through security easily and arrived at my gate with just a few minutes to spare before boarding the plane.
I had hoped for a window seat, I really enjoy watching the ground disappear from one country and reappear somewhere completely different. I was seated in the very center of the center aisle of the plane. I couldn't be further from a window unless I was in the bathroom. On my left side sat a middle aged Korean woman who was quiet and low key. On my right side was a tiny, ancient, Korean grandma who barely filled her seat. During the flight I helped my tiny Korean grandma with leaning her seat back and finding her way back from the bathroom. It was nice to focus my energy on taking care of her a little bit and feeling somewhat helpful.
The flight was mostly uneventful, not much turbulence, nothing much to report. But even the easiest flight is difficult. During the 14 hour flight I probably only slept for three interrupted hours total. My body felt cramped in my little seat and my back and legs ached deeply from being in the same position for so long. I tried to get up to stretch, but it was difficult to have to crawl over others in order to visit the restroom or walk through the aisle.
But before too long (okay, that's not accurate, it was a really long time) we touched down and I got to have my first glimpses of Korea through the airport windows as I headed to baggage claim and beyond.