When you are working Saturdays, it’s hard to cross anything off your bucket list. You have one day so you have to make it count, but all you want to do is sit in bed and stare at the wall.
But sometimes, opportunity just falls into your lap.
So I’m in the Yeongdongpo-gu Office station, where I ALWAYS get lost. It doesn’t matter how many times I have gone to church, I will, without fail, go out the wrong exit and have to find the 7/11 and Twosome Place to orient myself and get on the right path.
So I’m headed towards what I hope is the right direction, when a young Korean woman and an old black guy head toward me. He looks to be in his 50s, with thin black hair, but dressed very stylishly in a Milano suit jacket and suspenders. He’s hauling a giant suitcase in one arm and dragging a smaller suitcase behind him on the other arm.
I’m just walking by and he says, “excuse me, do you know happen to know where this church is?” and he holds up a Book of Mormon.
I straight up laughed and said, “well, actually, I’m headed there myself.”
So he thanked the Korean lady who had been doing her best and he hauls his suitcases up the 30 stairs to road. I tried to help him and he said, “if Jesus could carry a cross, I can carry a suitcase.”
Clifford said a lot of interesting things. Born in Sri Lanka, he grew up in Japan where he met the missionaries. He worked for Encyclopedia Britannica for a time, but then he decided his passion was music and he played guitar for small bands around Japan, “including American bands”. Then he met and married a Korean girl and they moved to Italy, where he found a larger demand for his skills, and his wife joined an Italian opera choir. Three years ago, his wife died of breast cancer, and now he has a different job. He never specified what that job was, but in his little suitcase he was transporting “documents”. While he left the large metal suitcase in the lobby, he refused to be parted with the small one, carting it through all of the confusing hallways and putting it under his chair during Sacrament Meeting. Despite the fact that we were a) in Korea and b) at church.
He was spending a week in Korea, and then he was headed to Japan to deliver the “documents”. I asked him, of all the places he’d lived, which was the best. He said by far Italy with this giant grin on his face and a far off look as if he knew something I didn’t. That even though its economy was shot, it was the best place on earth and that I should move there immediately.
We shared a hymn book during Sacrament and while he only hummed the tune I sang the alto like I always do. After the meeting he told me I had a gift for music and that Italian operas had a need for altos and that he could find me a good job in Italy.
This was funny because none of those sentences have ever been said to me before in any form.
We separated after Sacrament Meeting as he went to meet the Bishop and I ran into my Busan Beach Party Shinee Friend who had brought her sister to see Seoul.
But as I was leaving, I ran into Clifford. He thanked me for all of my help, put out his hand and said, with this Santa Clause like twinkle, “we will meet again.”
After writing that characterization, it seems like it can’t be real. Perhaps he is a pathological liar and that suitcase was actually full of out-of-stock Twinkies.
But at the same time, it’s almost too crazy to not be real.
Regardless, I can officially cross “help a foreigner get somewhere” off of my bucket list—in a very epic way.
All of my ways are epic though.
You would think that that was enough adventure for one day. But no—the world has so much in store for Mallory I just ride the winds and only stop to eat ice cream.
I swore I would never attend a concert again unless it was on the floor.
And the world provided.
Sylvie has connections—let’s leave it at that. So she was able to get us floor tickets to a Super Junior concert for the same price as our third floor Exo’luxion and Shinee World IV tickets we scalped. Super Junior is hilarious—and almost as unique as Clifford.
Not only are they a 9 member (currently) boy Kpop group but they’ve been around for 10 years.
The funniest part? Guess how old the youngest one is.
The youngest one is 27.
The oldest one?
These are grown men who, for 10 years, are still romping around in mermaid suits in perfectly choreographed dances to catchy rhythms.
Let’s put it this way—even if you don’t like Super Junior. You like Super Junior.
Do to a series of unfortunate events, we didn’t get in until long after our number in line was called. But we were still only 4 rows back from the railing.
Which was 10 feet away from the stage.
So I was completely satisfied.
If you’ve never had floor tickets to a K-pop concert with hundreds of Asian fan girls—here’s what it’s like. I think pit tickets to any concert have similar qualities, but I also think that K-Pop ones may have some distinctive traits.
-Sweaty: not only are you jumping up and down to the beat, but there are fireworks and giant flames blasting from the fantabulous stage that for a split second feels like putting your face above a boiling pot of water.
-Vicious: Korean fans don’t like foreign fans. I could write an entire post about this and maybe some day I will. Just know that you’d think Korean fans would want their boys to be internationally famous.
I got more dirty looks and swats than a fly at a Fourth of July picnic.
-Painful: Elbows. Stubbed toes. Feet stomped on. Hair EVERYWHERE. In my face, in your face, my sweaty hand tangled in yours and your grimy light stick stuck mine.
-Complete primitive ecstasy.
For the first half of the concert, we were four rows back from the extended stage. Everyone would do a 90 degree counterclockwise turn to face the main stage when there was a new song, and simultaneously turn back as they came out.
Well, almost simultaneously
So when we were looking at the main stage, I was to the left of two Chinese fans, and when we were facing the extended stage, I was behind them. If that makes sense.
This was all fine I had a good view of the stage and I was having a grand old time when suddenly Super Junior-M (Mandarin) appeared and the Chinese girls FLIPPED OUT.
We we facing the main stage, and as we turned for the extended, for some reason they turned counterclockwise instead of clockwise, so like a revolving door I somehow got caught up in their screaming and was shoved through three rows of people and almost lost my snickers bar and energy drink dinner from being slammed into the two very short ahjumma fans…on the railing.
That’s right everyone.
By some twist of fate, I was on the railing for the entire second half of the concert. Those Christmas lights right there? That’s where they stood.
It was like Dream Concert except not.
We got a decent amount of fan service and it was overall just a crazy good time.
When the concert finally ended in many tears from the members, and the fangirls, as they announced their military enlistments, the adrenaline faded away and I realized that my coccyx may be permanently bent backwards from leaning on people, and my toes permanently squished like the Chinese foot wrapping girls because I was still in nice church shoes and not comfortable Chok Chok dance shoes. And my neck may have a permanent line from my purse that while small, was still bogged down by all of the elbows and therefore dug into my artery for 4 hours.
Coming home from the concert, while still in pain, I wondered how I could ever have been the sad girl on Friday? Who was that girl who cried at home because her Director forced her to come into work even though she was dizzy and vomiting? And why was she so sad?
Regardless, I crossed something off my bucket list even though I only had one day to do it. Because sometimes opportunities just come.