Showing Up is Half the Battle: In Sickness or Health

Less than 72 hours of packing my bags for a flight that would completely change my life, I was fighting a sore throat. This wasn’t any ordinary sore throat where, “it hurts when I swallow.” Swallowing felt like a fire-breathing dragon was sluggishly sliding down my throat, clawing and screaming – its breath torching my pharynx, and its prickly scales scraping my tender mucus membranes. In other words, it hurt like hell.

That single infection caused me body aching, a fever, and mental and physical weakness. I was miserable, but ambitious. And possibly, delusional, as I continued to meet with friends, just one last time, before hauling my Milwaukee-native tail across the Pacific Ocean to teach English as a second language in South Korea.

After over-dosing on Tylenol Cold Sore Throat Liquid Cool Burst, I had successfully slayed the dragon. I still felt like a lump of discarded rags, damp and dirty, but, on the day of departure, I made it to the airport.

At the airport headed to Korea, and feeling 60 percent towards health.

I was under-packed for a year’s journey. Or so I thought. Once I reached the check-in desk, I was instructed to relieve my luggage of about 30 pounds in total because both bags were overweight.

So down on bent knees I went in effort to avoid that $200 per bag penalty. I got rid of cute boots, stylish skirts, tops and dresses I had so thoughtfully, efficiently packed. Even U.S.A. brands that I wouldn’t be able to find or would have to pay high mark-up prices for in Korea (more on the rampant misconceptions of that in a later blog) like cleaners, lotions, deodorant, toothpaste were discarded, and tossed into a big clear plastic bag left for my mother to return to the airport to pick up.

If that were a test on How-to-pack-and-fly-for-moving-out-of-the-country, I had failed. But there was no time for self-ridicule; my plane was about to start boarding. After checking in my two bags, I shuffled up the escalator, pass security, and through the terminal – with the cloud of sickness still hovering over me, and my tightly stuffed duffel bag jostling itself on my prematurely bruised shoulder – arriving at the gate.

I had made it. I sat in my seat on the plane feeling bullied by circumstance, and yet accomplished. Now, all I had to look forward to were two layovers and an 11-hour flight from San Francisco to South Korea. But the point was, I made it.


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