of alternate universes

In science there’s this idea called the Multiverse Theory. Basically it says that every time someone makes a decision, an alternate “universe” is made in which we chose the other outcome. I’m not going to pretend I understand it (journalism major!) but I know it has something to do with quantum mechanics and Schrodinger’s cat.

thank you Madeline L’Engle

But as I stood over the glass wall looking down on the train to Incheon International Airport I had a decision to make. I watched the digital screen with the train name, station and number declare that there were 8 minutes left. I watched the passengers get on the train down below, and while there was a guy in a little Magic Kingdom conductor’s suit, he wasn’t checking tickets but flirting with the woman in the Korean Air ensemble.

I pondered the two universes about to be created. One where I snuck on to the train and hid in the bathroom like a boxcar child because I didn’t have a ticket. I would make the flight to Taipei and enjoy a new country. I was holding a day by day itinerary for a 5 day vacation in Taiwan. I had messaged my DMC Swiss exo-fan friends who couldn’t talk up Taiwan enough and they had gladly planned it out for me–day by day.

5 minutes.

I had my giant North Face backpack on that I had haggled for in China. Stuffed inside was my swimsuit for the hot springs, my flip flops for the beach, clothes for the week, and my shinee blanket and and camping pillow just incase we ended up sleeping in a subway or something.

I was aggressively texting Silvia, who was running late. The rain had made taxi slow, so she wouldn’t make it to Seoul Station in time for the train. Instead she was going to take the bus to the airport and while we’d be running, we’d still make it.

3 minutes.

This wouldn’t be a problem if my wallet hadn’t jumped out of my pocket while attending the Melon Music Awards (don’t worry everything has been resolved by the time of this writing). I had accepted small loans from friends to make the subway so that I could use the ATM in Seoul Station to withdraw money from my passbook until I was able to get a new debit card. This plan would be flawless…unless the ATM for some unfathomable reason was rejecting my passbook.

in complicated bank-speak korean

Thereby leaving me penniless in Seoul Station. If it hadn’t been raining, Silvia would have made the train in time to lend me money to get to the airport. But she wasn’t going to make it. So I stood there overlooking the train deciding between two universes–one where I snuck on to the train and went to Taiwan…and one where I didn’t.

2 minutes.

The conductor and the cute Korean girl got on board. I watched a family race down the escalator and jump on the train.

I had ridden this train dozens of times up to Seoul back in the day when I lived in Suwon, and dozens of times down to Bundang when I subbed for a month. I always paid the 2000 won ($2) ticket because that’s what an honest upstanding citizen does. Even though I know for a fact that many passengers don’t because I hear them talking about it. I’ve only ever had my ticket checked twice–and it was already on the train. Another time the conductor came by but purposely skipped me–probably because I scared him.

1 minute.

Last call. To jump on or no? To go to Taiwan or no? Silvia hadn’t left Suwon yet. Still waiting for the bus in the rain, we were both trapped. Even if we both made it to the airport, we’d be running to security.

And then I watched the train pull away. And I just kind of stood there and watched it go helpless.

And straight faced, I went and plopped down by the McDonald’s and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Like, who misses a 3:15pm flight? That’s completely idiotic.

The whole thing just seemed…I don’t know…fate like? The amount of things that had to wrong for us to miss that flight were beyond sensational. Could we have rescheduled to the next day? Possibly. But I felt so drained and stupid already. Maybe Taiwan just wasn’t in the cards this time.

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Other option–we could spend time in Seoul! While I consider Seoul my home, my exploring is limited to weekends and there are so many things going on during the week. First off, the colors are changing and so I’ve seen beautiful pictures of various parks looking very autumn-y. Then there’s Namsan Tower, which my friends went to their second day in Korea but I was too tired (I didn’t have the stamina I have now). There are music shows that go on during the week we can never attend, and even musicals! But the biggest seller was the fact that going to Taiwan was leaving my little puppy Sylvi at my apartment all alone for a week. While she’s been busy following Kyuhyun around, I did feel a little sad for her and myself–I sleep until 11am, leave at 1pm and don’t get home until midnight. Vacation does’t necessarily have to mean traveling right? It can mean resting and spending time with friends. We’d save money and still do things. And go to Taiwan another time. Right? Right? RIGHT?

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Oh and that was the other problem. Not only did I not have my wallet, but we didn’t get paid until Tuesday. So planning anything new really couldn’t happen until then.

I convinced her to just take the next train to the station and save me and we could eat Baskin Robbins and cry together and then think about what to do. Suddenly I received this

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She didn’t respond for a full minute and I was clutching my phone in anticipation. What wild plans could there be.

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Excuse my language–I was a little emotional. And autocorrect also happened to go out at the same time. A vicious combination.

Where is Osaka? It’s right next to Kyoto. I knew that Japan had more to offer than Tokyo and I promised I would go back. I did not anticipate going back so soon or for my long vacation. But the more I thought about it the more sense it made. Maria was going to Kyoto just for the weekend to take pictures of the colors and the castles because it’s the middle of November and apparently they are fabulous. Many times I told myself, if I had either a) a Korean credit card that actually worked on line or b) a credit card that wasn’t maxed out, I would have booked a ticket for the weekend myself.

But now I had this week. And I wasn’t going to Taiwan. And I was sensitive.

And what was going on in Osaka that weekend? Well. That’s a good story.

There are so many trillions upon billions upon googleplexes of decisions that I and others had been making since before my birth that brought me to that moment overlooking the train to the airport. Do I go to Taiwan or do I not? There is an alternate universe somewhere with an alternate you reading an alternate blog about my lovely vacation in a new country eating delicious food and snorkeling and staying up all night in Taipei and doing wonderous things.

And while I don’t really know how the Taiwan universe goes, I can say this:

I think I picked the right one.

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2 responses to “of alternate universes

  1. Pingback: Fall Term in Review | That One Time in Seoul·

  2. Pingback: OF CCTV and money | That One Time in Seoul·

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