*The following is the first of a string of posts about my time in Canada. The Canadian posts are meant to fit together as a kind of super-post-narrative-whatever.
The end of my current tenure as an IB international school teacher was busy, stressful, and emotional—I cried every day I had the dogs for the last week. I said my many goodbyes and headed for Incheon for the last time (?). The days were getting hot in Korea, and the air was polluted as I made my way on the 6300 express. I felt anxious and alone; I was leaving everything I had established over the last five years, save for perhaps the most important aspect of my life in Korea, Jenny.
I arrived at ICN and checked in my massive Samsonite bag that contained the skeleton of my life: dog tags, some random articles of clothes, an external hard drive, and a lot of makeup. I passed security unmolested, as always in Seoul, but the customs officer felt very strongly that I didn’t look like the me from my passport or alien registration card. I simply said, “Long hair!” He looked unconvinced, but as I was exiting, permanently, he didn’t seem to care. I then went into the terminal—early as always—and fritted away time on the internet and my Nintendo Switch: nerd (cough). After two and a half hours I boarded for SFO.
The United Air flight to San Fransisco, where I was connecting to Toronto, was an old 747. I had seen it before boarding and felt a sense of terror. Previously I had been excited to take one of these venerable mega-giants of the sky. Yet I soon found that my anticipation was misplaced as that plane had been old and small inside. I preferred the A380 or 777. As I boarded by fears were confirmed, the seats were small, and to my genuine horror, there were no entertainment systems. It was like an early 00’s flight: ten hours without TV or movies!
The flight was horrible. The food was extra miserable and short of options by the time they reached the back. The older flight attendants seemed too tired to shepherd Koreans back to their seats during turbulence, or to put the seats upright during meal time. Without a strong hand, my fellow travellers ran amuck. By the time we landed I’d had enough time to worry about American customs that I felt faint in the line. But the officer merely looked at my skin colour and passport cover and made polite conversation.
SFO was a dull airport and nothing remarkable happened. I boarded my second flight, to Toronto on an Air Canada code share and was off. This plane was small but newer. The food wasn’t free, but the staff were unusually friendly and strict with the rules. I arrived at 1 am, went through the automated customs line, and grabbed a cab for downtown. Sleep alluded me the first three days. But I was home.