This is a story about fear and bravery and unexpected surprises and seizing the moment and trust and how working out is the worst.
Some of my girlfriends wanted to try a new workout class in the park the first week we moved here. I hate working out, but can be peer pressured really easily. So I agreed. They all lived right by the park, I lived a decent ways away by multiple buses. I knew that I could do it though. The bus system here is really easy and I had been to all the places I needed to go (just not in the right order that I was going in that day), so I thought this would be so easy and a fun first adventure on my own. Up until now Terrell and I had gone everywhere together or with friends (who knew what they were doing). So I asked someone which bus to take. Easy.
I left the house ready to go. I was going to work out, hang out with new friends and go on an adventure all by myself. Well, some of those things happened….I got on the first bus, making great time. The bus was insanely crowded and I stood on someones foot stand as they sat. The bus was comically full. I jump off and as I’m crossing the street to take the next bus when I run into some other friends who inform me that I’m taking the right bus but on the wrong side of the road. So I cross back over, starting to get worried about time and how my plans have changed and I was wrong and what a close call that was! Nerves.
The bus arrives, I hop on. Feeling better, but eyeing the clock. The bus is going in the right direction, there is a lot of traffic. The bus doesn’t take the turn I think it should. But I don’t worry, because I don’t really know the route. My American phone isn’t connected yet, it’s virtually an iPod now. The bus continues to drive. And drive. And make turns. And drive. Stops get less frequent. Time is ticking. I recognize nothing. But its ok. It’s just a weird route. I’ll get there. More turns. More giant buildings. Fake playing on my non working phone. Less people on the bus. A nice Korean ladies hands me a pamphlet for an English ministry of her church. She’s very nice. I’m officially very lost. More stops. More turns. Fear is surmounting. My chest is getting tight, I’m acutely aware that my shorts and tank top are not really in appropriate fashion for Korean street wear. Don’t make eye contact. Everyone knows.
I’ve completely missed the start workout of the workout class by 15 minutes. But I don’t know what to do. Can I go late? Will I even be able to find them? Will I ever get there? Is this bus taking me to North Korea?! (Just kidding, I didn’t think that). I decide to just ride the bus until I either get to the park or it loops back around and drops me off where I started. (most of the buses just drive giant loops) This is what it feels like to be a foreigner. Lost, alone, silent, helpless, fear. No one speaks my language. I have no working phone to help me navigate where I am or need to go. Fear. But I’m fine, I tell myself. I need to figure this out. I live here. This will happen often. I must stay calm and know what to do.
The bus stops. The driver FORCES me to get off. THIS IS NOT THE PLAN. The plan, good Korean sir, is to ride this bus UNTIL THE END OF TIME. I step out. There are people everywhere. Correction: there are TOURISTS everywhere. Theres nowhere to go. But up. I begin following the giant crowd up a giant hill (so I did get my workout in). I come over the top of the hill and this is the view that greets me. Realization hits: I’m at Seoul Tower. IM AT SEOUL TOWER!! I KNOW WHERE THAT IS! I totally pretend like I meant to come here the whole time. Now my none working cell phone is my BFF because it has a camera. I snap away. I walk around and take in the breathtaking sights of the city. MY city. The city I just drove through with complete fear. Its beautiful and huge and full of possibilities. I take a billion photos of the love locks. I’m literally checking things off my bucket list with every step Im taking. I can do this. So I missed a workout that sounded like it was going to kill me. Oh, well. Look where I am.
Once I have thoroughly walked around and gotten over that uncomfortable feeling of ‘Im here alone and everyone knows’ I head back to the bus. I try to read the signs. They are all in Korean. But that never stops me from trying. So I get back on the exact bus I came on, because it will just backtrack right?! The driver at this point just knows he is going to have to live the rest of his life with me living on his bus. We both accept our fate and settle into it. I ride back the way we came. I edit photos on my phone. I am amazed at what I just unexpectedly found. I am amazed that I survived. But why should I be? I was made for this. Surely enough, the bus drops me back off in familiar land. It’s then that the boldness and courage is truly manifesting itself. I decide instead of catching the next bus to walk home instead. It’s actually a really nice 20 ish minute walk, downhill, through my neighborhood. But its getting dark. I have to do it. If I can handle the lostness, I can handle walking home. Seoul is one of the safest cities in the world and this is MY road. MY neighborhood. I walk home, stop and buy myself a new little succulent as a reward because I can do anything I want. I am fearless and brave and adventurous. Ok I walked a little fast a few times. But I did it. I arrived home to a furious husband. “YOU WENT TO SEOUL TOWER WITHOUT ME?!’ Well….kind of but not exactly….but yes?I did it. I survived my first of what will be a lifetime of lostness. And it was amazing.
PS. I have seen this “To the moon and back” painted all around Seoul, but have no idea what it is. Anyone know? I promise I’m not a cult supporter if that’s what it is…..
Have you been lost? Where? Tell me what happened! You were brave. I know it.