Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Mother Called to Say Indonesia Had Been Destroyed

Anything that can go wrong, might.

This philosphy guides the final days of preparation before selling your things, leaving your home, leaving your family, and living in small hostels on the other side of the world. That mole might be tumorous. The money you'd plan to live on isn't enough to get you through. The country you're visiting has been wrecked by a tsunami, your guesthouse washed away. The reasons to fear and postpone your plans grow, then multiply exponentially in the last 36 hours before you leave home, friends, and comfort.

The night before we left for SFO, I tore apart my backpack and triple counted the clothes, travel medicines, and adaptors we'd packed for the trip. I called the banks and checked that the money was still accessible. I bit my nails and wrote up checklists, crossed things off, then made them longer.

Now that we're here, Julie and I have to weed through our rucksacks and throw things out with a critical eye for weight and volume. First on the hit list: my denim jeans, the sixth bottle of sunscreen, the fourth pair of underwear, the second bottle of contact lens fluid. Beat with jet lag, I sat at the edge of the hostel bed, our things splayed on the floor, and severed the back cover of Juliah's journal with a leatherman. Twenty four hours into our journey, and we're still working through preparation anxiety.

But slowly, we're getting into the vibe of being here, seeing Seoul, getting lost in the crowds. Speaking Korean feels like chewing on taffy when you try asking directions to Gwandaemon. When people get you, they nod once and say "Nehhhhhhh...." By the hour, you start to feel like you really can navigate these streets, get the hotel room, or find the park by the river. Maybe tomorrow, we'll even get around to trying a cup of the boiled silkwork larvae.

Mark and Juliah


  1. Awesome. I'm all over this. Keep 'em coming. Great stuff.

  2. Hey, I didn't say all of Indonesia was destroyed! I'm a mother and I worry. Love the posts, keep them coming now that I've found, mom/e