Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Near-Perfect Day

I put on my most obnoxiously bright outfit. I walk out of my way to buy a sandwich from this cute little place called Tospia, where I'll probably eat tomorrow for lunch, but I could care less. I need picnicking food and so I spent my last 2,000 won on their pressed tuna sandwich. Totally worth it.

I pop by the bank to withdraw money, only to find out that their machine won't take my card. I push that concern out of my head for the time being. I walk. I think and I walk--pretty amazing stuff for a college graduate such as myself to be doing simultaneously. I think about all the vitamin D my skin is getting and how those hot flashes I'm feeling are probably the remnants of fever escaping my body.

I immerse myself in the trees, watching people play badminton and children climb things like monkeys without fear. I'm keeping an eye out for a good place to set up camp and eat my sandwich, but nothing calls to me so I cross the street to the larger park beyond. Once inside its bounds, I see its trees are smaller than the ones before. Shade is a commodity. I keep walking, thinking about my abdominal muscles.

I turn a corner and there, a lake is laid out in front of me, flashing in the sun. I'm amazed that I've been living here more than three weeks and never knew. I see benches all around, families enjoying each others' company, bike riders aplenty, lots of faces staring back at me. I choose a bench occupied by two steel statues of an elderly man and woman because they are the only ones not staring at me. I find humor in how this looks and laugh to myself a lot.

Once I inhaled my sandwich, I bid farewell to my lunchtime companions. I walk all around, looking for something that I can't pin down. Eventually, unfulfilled in my quest, I sit down at a bench in the shade and pull out my book and I read. And occasionally, I look up and I watch--children learning to ride their bikes, young mothers showing their kids the world, one young girl falling off her bike and wailing for her brother, an elderly couple walking through the vast rows of produce growing here. Two men set up in the gazebo in my line of sight and begin playing their saxophone and accordion. It provides a soundtrack for the ending of my book.

I finally reach the end, after more than an hour of sitting. I stand, arching my back and head off in the opposite direction of home. I don't know the time, but something pushes me on. I make my way through Bucheon, a neighboring city. I see wonderful architecture, things I would love to take pictures of and see at night. I wander into a HomePlus because I can use their bathroom. I find an atm that accepts my card. Things fall into place.

I turn around, headed homeward, thinking that this has been a near-perfect day. I long for some companionship, since I've been sitting in my apartment oozing bodily fluids for the last two days with little more interaction than the woman who works at the FamilyMart thirty paces away. I'm closer to home now, walking past more familiar fare. A restaurant catches my eye: "Chicken and hof." I keep walking, prepared to ignore it. And then, without reason, I turn back.

I walk in and say "chicken." Soon, I am being handed an overflowing bucket of chicken and a bag with sauces and pickled radish in it. I leave after I've paid the man. I'm considering how much chicken this is for one person. Then I hear my name.

The Canadian is walking up behind me. I invite her to share my fare. She invites me up to her apartment which we happen to be near. My wish for companionship was fulfilled. What can I say? It was a wonderful day.


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