At DFW International, I bought a jar of Jardine’s peach salsa, and the lady wrapped it in bubble wrap for me. I was just beside myself with joy. Somehow, my 5 a.m. brain forgot that I’d have to go through security at SFO again, and because it exceeded the 3.4 ounce rule, I’d have to forfeit my precious salsa. I made quite a sight, I’m sure, trying to talk the TSA agent into allowing me to keep it.
“But I’m moving to Korea from Texas,” I explained reasonably and with as much empathy as I could try to evoke.
She looked at me, and nodded, and for a split second, I saw her pain for me. This was a jar of peach salsa, afterall. I thought I had her then.
“And I bought it at DFW International. Here’s the receipt.” I handed it to her.
“It’s completely safe and sealed,” I reasoned.
She contemplated the receipt and the jar, and then her heart broke. I could see it on her face.
“I’m sorry ma’am. But I can’t let this through.”
And then my heart broke. I chuckled and said, “Enjoy my salsa.”
She laughed and said, “I wish I could. Have a good flight.”
When I sat down on the plane, I pulled out two cards, from two different friends, and proceeded to read them, as one had specified not to read them until I’d gotten on the plane. There is a time to plant, and a time to uproot. I only wish I could uproot all the other plants in the Texas garden and bring them with this little cactus.
Whoever wrote the old hymn “The Water is Wide” was probably an American missionary flying over the Pacific to the Asian continent. I mean, I know that song refers to the river Jordan, but I’m pretty sure they were inspired by crossing the Pacific, which is significantly wider than the Atlantic. I know this; I taught this very fact last year to my students, but it’s one of those things that you don’t know until you know.
Watch a movie, eat, take a dramaine and sleep, climb over fellow passengers, repeat, ad nauseum.
When I got through customs, and went to claim my bags, I ripped the handle off one bag. Somehow, I found an empty luggage cart and hoisted all my bags on the cart and pushed my way through the crowds. I must have made quite the sight, bleary eyed with my orange turtle shell backpack, squatting to lift all my giant suitcases. I found my driver via the old poster board system. We both excitedly greeted each other, but he knew no English, so we mimed our way through the logistics of leaving the airport. I have never been so thankful for our unit in pantomime in middle school theatre arts class. As he loaded my luggage, he was clearly exhausted, and looked me up and down and then pointed at me and then flexed his muscles. “Strong American!” I laughed and then replied, “No. Strong Texan.”
Then, he expressed concern for my romantic possibilities here. On our way to Bucheon, he was stopped at a red light and turned around and made a motion of an hourglass, then pointed and gave me a thumbs up. Yes. My driver, who was probably 40-something totally checked me out and gave me the approval. I hadn’t showered in 36 hours, had squat-lifted my luggage at two airports, survived two security checkpoints, a yoga room, and a 12 hour flight. I was disgusting, but apparently, to this guy, some beauty came through. Men are very bizarre creatures. Then, he motioned circularly at my face and said, “Fair skin!” and gave me the thumbs up and a smile and then said, “You do good here.” I laughed and thanked him. I didn’t know how to tell him I’m not here for that, and that I’m not certain how Korean men might take to a strong Texas redheaded woman. It was a nice sentiment, and not one I’ve been a stranger to in the recent weeks.
As a friend of mine put it: “Not this trip. You still need to find yourself.” I replied something like I already feel like I’d found myself. “No, not yet. You still need to relax and lighten up. You’ll stop caring as much about the things that have bothered you in the past.” I know he’s seen me at my worst in so many ways, and perhaps he’s right.
As another friend of mine said, “Don’t be offended by us wishing this [a husband] for you. In the end, you’d be happy and married. Is that such a bad thing?” But, coyly, I know, one does not have to be married to be happy. “Sure,” I replied, “That would be lovely, to be happily married and in love, with a family. But that’s not why I’m going. I’m going for adventure.” I absolutely would prefer to be going on this adventure with the man I love, but one who is ready hasn’t come along, and I’m tired of waiting.
I’ve gotten tired of waiting for life to happen to me, so I’m taking this chance. Already I feel lighter. I think it was that lost jar of salsa.