Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Road Again

Familiarity, like belching in public places, does indeed breed contempt. Familiarity breeds other things too, like dependence and comfort and relationships. Hilary, my college roommate, and I had no business being friends based on our perfectly contradictory Meyers-Brigg scores. After a year, however, neither of us gave a thought to finding someone else to live with. By year four, my favorite time of the day was coming home and hearing Hilary’s, “Well hey there, missy. How’s it going?”[1] The stress of the day—stress that’s unknown until the moment it’s gone—melts away with a greeting like that.

As I’ve mentioned before, familiarity is a hot commodity for travelers. We’ll pay top price for a real American-tasting hamburger over here, for instance, and this morning’s conversation with my parents on Skype was the best present of the holidays.

I’ve been a little stressed recently, what with my first Christmas away from home and a subsequent trip to Southeast Asia. Flights were cancelled and rescheduled; money was transferred and exchanged and so on and so forth; goodbyes were said and my bag was packed all of 2 minutes before I left for the airport.

I spent the hour and a half ride to Gimhae (possibly smaller than even Grand Rapids’ terminal) praying and playing calm music and trying to think of things I’d forgotten. I made all my transfers—from bus to subway line one to subway line two to airport shuttle train without a hitch and the only bump going through security was forgetting I had an Exacto knife in my backpack (30 cents down the drain).

I emerged into the terminal, and breathed a sigh of relief. The sun glared through the floor-to-ceiling windows onto the uncomfortable landmarks of travel purgatory—rows of poorly-cushioned grey chairs, the Duty Free shop, numbered gates, and neon-numbered departure boards. “Well hey there, Gimhae. How’s it going?”

[1] That’s a Hilary-phrase that I probably didn’t hear until year three and a half, when we knew one another so well that our embarrassing colloquialisms rolled off the tongue like they do at home.

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