The Prisoner From Another Planet

This is actually the continuation of a story begun yesterday entitled “Get Me Out Of Here Already,” but you don’t really need to go back and read it to pick up the thread.  I know how busy you are.  Relax and take a load off.

I rifled through the contents of my backpack and even opened up the suitcase, frantically searching for my passport and the e-ticket I’d folded inside it.

“Where is it?” I asked myself again.

“It wouldn’t be in there!” Jina said helpfully.

“I must have left it at home.”

“Great!” That’s a sarcastic expression she picked up from me.  I taught her so well, she uses it even more than I do.

After a moment of choreographed fretting, she volunteered to go back and get it, even though I was the one who’d left it behind and had a better idea of where to find it.

“What should I do?” I asked.

“Stay here!”

I sat on the stool on the subway platform, preyed on by all sorts of fears and anxieties.  Foremost was of course the fear I’d miss my flight.

The first time Jina called, she told me to go on to the airport ahead of her, saying she’d meet me there.  Figuring there was no reason to rush and I was probably going to miss my flight anyway, I took the all-stop train again instead of waiting for the express.

I just wanted to get out of there.

I had a eureka moment reminding me where the ticket might be and called Jina to tell her. Sure enough, she found the passport on top of the Bible, supported by the rectangular shoulders of Jesus Himself.  Luckily, the urgency of the situation seemed to have dispelled her anger.

On the train I grew lugubrious and nearly dissolved into tears in front of the beautiful young woman sitting across from me, who appeared to share an idyllic bond with her adjacent boyfriend.

The prospect of missing my flight and along with it my vacation cast me into a funk that led me to contemplate investing in some muscle relaxants and taking enough of them to stop my heart from beating forever.  The despair of having no reprieve from the relentless wrestling match of the marriage was too painful to imagine.

Jina called to say she’d be able to make it to the airline desk by 11:30.  The flight left at 12:35.  It felt like a long shot, but what did I have to lose?  All I could do was stare out the window at the mountains, rice paddies, and boggy shoreline on the way to Incheon.

When I finally arrived at the airport, I made my way to the airline desk, flagging down a uniformed employee who said she’d actually spoken with Jina on the phone.  (Jina had asked me to beg them to let me on the flight.)  She–the airline concierge, if that’s the right term, told me I could still make the flight but I wouldn’t be able to check my suitcase without a pasport.

I asked if there was a place nearby where I could by a cloth bag to put some clothes in.  She directed me to a convenience store.  I said I’d be back in a few minutes.

The only place I could find that sold any bags was an outlet for a department store that had backpacks, but the going rate was about a hundred seventy bucks.  Forget it.

Luckily, since they knew Jina was on her way, the airport staff cut me some slack and let me check my suitcase anyway.  I thanked them vehemently.

At last Jina appeared with the passport and the ticket.  We went with the concierge towards the security checkpoint.

After all that, I told Jina I loved her and gave her a goodbye hug.  She wished me a good trip.

The concierge led me through the security clearance zone, then escorted me all the way down to the platform to catch the shuttle to the international terminal.  She probably thought I was mentally disabled, a reasonable observation, and I thanked her profusely for her zeal and professionalism.

When I boarded the flight, I can’t tell you how happy I was to be finally getting out of Korea for awhile.  I had one of the best vacations I’ve ever had in my life, joyously reunited with family and friends over lovingly prepared meals, lots of laughs, and a clear blue sky just about the whole time.

Upon landing back in Inchon a few days ago, when I looked out the window of the airplane a little after 6 pm, the sky was overcast and the tarmac was wet from recent rain.  It looked like I’d alighted on the set of a postmodern production of King Lear.

Sure enough, it only took about a day for my wife and me to start arguing about petty bullshit again.  That appears to be the basis of our marriage, even though we do get along pretty well sometimes, especially when one of us is asleep.

May you have happy relationships with the other inhabitants of your life.  When you do, they make it worth living.

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