Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Day

Happy Birthday To Me!

Things can be so much nicer when you just go with the flow. For my birthday, the only thing I planned was to arrive in Seoul. The rest was up to chance. Ok, not quite. I made a mental list of things that "would be totally awesome if they happened," which included seeing friends I hadn't seen in months, and going ice skating. In the end, here's what happened.

My friend Leanne and I arrived in Seoul around two. She correctly suggested that I go get a pretzel from Auntie Anne's before we left the mall/train station. Yummy pretzels in hand, we headed for the subway to Hongdae. There was noodle- and pizza-eating, dessert crepe- (the Asian kind) eating, old friend- meeting, and an interesting hour in a cat cafe. Cat cafes are kind of awkward. Yes, the cat's are there. Yes, they each have their various moods (and thus should be handled accordingly... or not at all). Yes, we can touch them, and suck up warm fuzzy feelings from being in their presence. Still, there was the fact that a shop full of other customers were vying for these cats' attentions. Plus, half of the lot were sleeping, and we weren't allowed to pick them up. One man (whom one of my friends guessed was the significant other of one of the workers) sat in a chair while a fluffy persian rested on the table in front of him, and a few minutes later, in his lap. This man paid absolutly no attention to the cat, only raised his cellphone to eye level and continued to sit there. My friend fumed at this. The active cats had been actively avoiding our table, teasing us every once in awhile by sneaking up under our table. By the time we realized they were there, they slinked away, ducking under our outreached hands. Perhaps we should've gone to the dog cafe...

There was also a trip to the noraebang. In between all of this were many text messages from friends I'd met in Seoul long ago and was trying to meet again. I ended up finding some of them, and by the end of the night, had made even more new friends (Oh? You invited your friends? ...That's cool). Five hours after this whole thing'd started, a bunch of us took a taxi to Itaewon. We found a ... pub? It felt more like a "pub" than a "bar"... well, we found one and while the others drank their favorites, I feasted on Sprite and potato wedges. There, another friend found our group and we all began catching up on events.

We bar hopped, but just one hop, and I helped a friend find a gyros restaurant to sooth his hunger pangs. I discovered that the bar, Magpie, was one I had just learned about in a documentary a few weeks ago. I must find that documentary again and post it here. By midnight, I found myself invited to Cheongju to crash and maybe extend the festivities the next day.

My friend Jessica and I watched Les Miserables after breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. (Nothing like a fast food chain to break your pattern of Korean cuisine)! I headed to the train station after buying some souvenirs for people back home, and had to wait two hours for the next train (again... no worries! Go with the flow! ...That's what I get for not checking the schedule. And being inclined to train rides). Nevertheless, I got home just in time to relax and get ready for classes the next day.

It's strange, but the day BEFORE my birthday felt really special for some reason. It started to snow, which made me smile. I had a super-easy day at school. After school, I visited a coffee shop I hadn't frequented in awhile, and the shop owner chatted with me (never really happens). The day just felt special. I felt happy on my last day of being 22 years old. I wondered if the actual birthday would feel a certain way (one that I didn't create). In the past, I've usually had to celebrate my birthday early (friends on vacation or with family during the holidays). That special, surprising feeling the day before my birthday felt kind of like an early birthday present. Like someone saying, don't just celebrate the first day. Celebrate the last day, too.

'Til next time,

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