It’s 3:20am my time, 5:30pm Seoul time. This airport looks so much like JFK, it is kind of eerie. The first part of the trip went so smoothly, it’s almost strange. I got to JFK at 10am, for my 12:50pm flight. I didn’t wait in line to check-in. I didn’t wait in line to go through security. It was all over in about 15 minutes. Having only got about 5 hours sleep the night before, I fell asleep fairly easily on the plane.
I forgot how much I love to sit and stare out a plane window. I think I recognized the same region we passed over on the way to Tokyo in 2003. I watched the vast expanses of white. Snow and ice with no sign of humans for as far as I could see. This turned slowly into uninhabited brown hills in what I think was early morning peach light. Seemingly no vegetation. Dipped and pointed like brown pudding underneath a rippled piece of cellophane. So hard to tell if the sun is setting or rising. My guess is we passed close to the North Pole. Once you get up there, the sun itself doesn’t know if its coming or going. As I periodically checked out the window, the snowy expanses were dotted with small settlements separated from each other by large white plains. Snaking lines of rivers turning back on themselves so tightly that traveling down them would take eons longer than a path cut straight from point A to point B. Blacks, greys, off-whites. Next the crazy quiltwork of agriculture. Straight lines at odd angles enclosing distinct patches of color. Dark greens, oranges, yellows, browns. The land cut up so that every inch is claimed. So different from the endless uninhabited spaces we passed over only hours before.
I am still sniffling, nose-clogged and phlegmy lungs. But the air pressure changes taking off and landing weren’t as painful as I feared. I bought some incredibly overpriced earplugs in the airport that seemed to do the trick.
I am more than halfway there. But not by much.