The Journey—Part 1

02/27/2013 17:15

I apologize for not telling people sooner that I am alive, but now I have a power transformer and a slightly less foggy brain. Now I can begin writing about my experience in Korea! Writing in first person is fun and all (not), so I am going to write in third person. Typing "I did this" and "I did that" gets old. Plus it will be more fun for you to read and for me to write.


Jasmine hadn't slept much. She went to bed at 10, but only dozed the next few hours away. Sleep didn't take her. At 3 AM on Monday February 25, Jasmine and her parents woke up to take her to the Richmond International Airport. There was still some packing Jasmine had do, like gathering bathroom items and one of her three beloved pillows. It was 4 AM before Jasmine, her parents, and her nephew, Savion, climbed into their green van and drove to the RIC airport.


As she hopped out of the van, Savion waved from his car seat. "Bye!"


The group laughed and motioned for him to get out. Jasmine wasn't leaving yet. The airport was almost empty. Jasmine, her mother, and aunt had visited the airport a few weeks ago to tour the place and it lacked people, but today, it seemed only the employees were present. Remembering, she led her family up the escalators and rounded the edge of the handrail to claim her boarding passes and drop off her luggage.


A Delta employee directed me to the self-service kiosk. Jasmine typed in her confirmation number and proceeded to get her boarding passes. Her mother made the process take twice as long, because she read and triple-read everything on screen before allowing Jasmine to go on. Once printed, her father followed her into the baggage drop off line with her suitcase in tow. When prompted by the employee to place the suitcase on what looked like a scale, her father did so. In a few minutes, Jasmine walked away with a ticket to reclaim her suitcase in Seoul and her mom had a pass to get past the security checkpoint.


It was not a long walk to security. Dad and Savion would have to wait on this side. Jasmine is not a physically affectionate person, nor verbally for that matter. With a quick hug from Savion, and a rare one from Dad along with a silly goodbye, Jasmine and her mom head off down the snaking line to security.


At the front of the line, Jasmine removed her shoes, trench coat, belt, pocket items, and laptop and placed them in clear bins. Her orange carry-on and laptop messenger back went on the conveyor belt as well. The female officer asked my age before waving Jasmine over to a glass tube. The male officer on the other side told Jasmine to stand on the yellow footprints and place her hands over her head. He waved her out to another female officer who stopped her. She told Jasmine she was cleared and could reclaim her items. Mom was right behind her.


At one of the many stuffed stores lining the walkway, the pair stopped to buy goodies for the flight. Jasmine first sought out a bottle of water under her mom's supervision before rapidly picking up boxes of candy. Mom frowned at her daughter's selection and placed two packs of cheddar cheese crackers and Tylenol on the counter.


They sat on a free row of seats at gate B12. "Bingo!" Jasmine thought.


Mother and daughter made small talk while waiting for the two Delta employees to board the waiting crowd. Shortly after 6AM, the plane crew passed by and down into the stairs leading to the plane. It was a very small plane, seating about 50 people. An employee called for Zone 3 to board.


Jasmine looked at her Richmond-to-Detroit ticket for the thousandth time and stood. Her mother did so as well. With a parting hug and a word of love, Mom let go and Jasmine moved to join the growing line. She didn't look back as she started down the stairs; this was not a scene in a movie. At least she managed not to bawl on the way to the plane.


Seated on the wings next to an elderly gentleman who had managed to fall asleep within ten minutes of boarding, Jasmine felt claustrophobic and panicky. Sets of two seats lined each side of the aircraft. Jasmine sat on the right side, the seat farthest from the window. A stewardess and baggage man had taken her carry-on before boarding and her laptop messenger bag was stowed in the overhead compartment. Her bag of goodies remained between her feet.


The minutes dragged by without a word from the crew. Two rather large men sitting in from of Jasmine waved down the stewardess. The left one said there was not enough room and if he could move to the seat across the aisle from Jasmine. The man already by the empty seat didn't look happy, because he hadn't been consulted. The stewardess said he could after take off.


A female pilot or the stewardess, Jasmine couldn't tell, said the tug, the machine that pushes the plane away from the port was "having a rough morning and died." A new one was being sent for as well as a tow truck. The large man ducked into the seat across from Jazz. He just couldn't follow directions.


Awhile later, the aircraft rolled backwards. Jazz's eyes rolled to the tiny window. "It's okay, it's fine. It's like being on a bus, it's fine." It wasn't fine when the plane sped down the runaway and rocketed into the early morning sky.


For all the self control she wielded while parting with her family, Jazz bawled quietly for the first few minutes of the flight. No one even bothered to see if she was alright. Regulars. It was a roller coaster without the steel supports and the guarantee that she would make it to the ground with maybe a grown arm or leg. No. Falling from miles above the waking city of Richmond would be Game Over.


Her breathing calmed sometime later and Jazz could look out the window without panicking. Richmond was gone and she didn't know where she was looking. It was simply hilly terrain, and is that the sea?! Can I see the Atlantic from this high? Too high too high too high too. Freaking. High! Jazz stared at the bluish mass but couldn't really tell if it was rolling. The edges looked washed up, but it was still too dark to tell.


Sips of water and coughing down crackers passed the time. Around 7AM, the sun revealed that "the sea" was actually an enormous gathering of clouds. That made Jasmine rest easy, but the fact that they were high enough for her to mistake clouds for the Atlantic scared her near poop-less.