A subway pulls me and a couple of dozen other passengers to Incheon Airport. Outside the window, there was nothing but a blurred picture. Glass high-rises, small houses. Everything merges into a yellow streak of light.
I see many new scars on my suitcase's rounded corners. At each stop, it flows across the floor in a pace of movement. Not gifted with the ability to move through space on its own. Back and forth.
I yearn even before I've left the city. Spending a week in Seoul was enough to add another item to the list of countries-where-I-could-feel-happy.
But it's been a long time since any of the countries touched me the way South Korea did. I want to remember every single moment here. No matter how small they were. I had a reason to come here at the end of March.
This morning I had cheese biscuits for breakfast in the capsule hotel's kitchen and thought about how quickly the week has flown by.
The physical evidence of those days hangs on my left wrist. A narrow silver chain with a circle of crumpled metal. It reminds me that there is a shop somewhere in Seoul where I tried on this bracelet and never took it off. And that Seoul itself exists. And that I was there.
I'm already talking about it in the past tense. Even though I haven't even got on the plane yet. Events are turning into memories right before my eyes and I want to hold them all so badly.
On Thursday, I went to the Museum of Modern Art. This time, too modern to understand. I walked from one digital art to another, and caught myself thinking of other museums.
It was uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Like being with one person and thinking about someone else. Another thing I'll never understand.
Like always, I just walk away. I exclude myself from this reality.
At the bookstore next to the museum, I buy some postcards with sketches of city views on white rice paper. "Keep doing what you're doing. And fear nothing," I write in black on mine, paste bright blue bird stamps on it and drop cards in a box.
The day before, I spent the night in the mountains. Two hours by express bus, and I got off at the station in Sokcho, a town on the coast of the Sea of Japan. It took another hour to get to the village near the national park.
Cherry trees grew on both sides of the winding mountain road. These were not yet in bloom. In a week, it would probably be magical here. The sun went down and the orange blur was getting stronger by the minute. It was already dark when I got to the hotel.
There was no one at the register desk. Only a room card with my name on it. In complete silence, I went up to the first floor, hung up my clothes to dry, and switched on the kettle.
An hour later, I went outside the hotel for a quick smoke. The darkness became even more dense. Not any signs of life, but the light in my window. Alone, in the mountains, in an empty hotel. It made me a little worried, but fatigue took over. I went back to my room, switched on the mattress warmer, and wrapped myself in an enormous white blanket.
I never paid for that room. Later, it turned out that the hotel was sanitising the building that day. If I got the translation from their message correctly. But the point is that they decided not to charge for the night.
At six in the morning, I returned my card to reception and rushed to the national park.
Following the signs, I got to the beginning of the trail. After a few miles, I realised there was not a single thought in my head. I haven't felt so calm in a long time. I wanted to walk this road forever. Among the trees, rocks and waterfalls.
I was feeling under the weather so I walked as long as I could and ate a soft biscuit on a rock ledge. I had to give a quarter of the bun to the overly curious chipmunk.
I was sitting on that warm stone under the sun, surrounded by nature, and couldn't believe I had arrived in Korea just two days ago. The amazing thing about travelling is that it stretches time through a high concentration of experiences. I think I'm addicted to that feeling.
I was so longing for a sakura I had never seen before that I just couldn't help being here as soon as the opportunity came. Although my nearly maxed credit card limit would argue over the meaning of the word 'opportunity'.
But every damn time, I'm convinced it's worth it.
To fly across half of the world. To earn money to live the life you want. To make time to do so.
Dream big, they said. But forgot to mention that it isn't about pretentiousness but emotions. Happiness comes from little things too. And it may be as not as you imagined. But beautiful anyway.
Mine was brought to life out of nowhere. On the very first morning five minutes after I left the subway. The lone sakura tree on the corner of an unremarkable street. It just started to bloom. Pale pink petals were lost in a web of wires.
I remember the floral scent getting stronger as I walked to the tree. I wanted to hug it. I forgot that I hadn't slept properly in two days, that my new jeans fit too tight, that one day I wanted to die.
The lines from the song popped up in my head: "Happiness is a second before we want more." I want to crave more. Not even so. I need it.