After Korean class on Saturday (yes, I'm doing that again--the cute teacher is the advanced level teacher, score!) and teaching at the girls' shelter, I hopped on a train and went to visit my friend Big White Barbie out in Busan. We had not seen each other in quite some time due to alternating medical issues and incompatible schedules.
I had a fabulous time with her and a friend from her job who has been in Korea for three months. We ate Thai food (not really available in Daegu), put our feet in the sea at Haeundae, and went to a not-horrible bar in a gross area of the city. The plan was to wake up in the morning and be tourists at some cool historical sites around the city.
However, when we woke up, it was raining. I checked my e-mail to find three voicemails from Dad. This is not typical.
I used BWB's phone to call my dad only to find out that my mom was on her way to emergency surgery at the hospital. NOT GOOD. VERY, VERY SCARY.
When you live far away from your family and there is a crisis of this kind, you feel a kind of terrifying helplessness that makes you question everything. It drains the life right out of you; at least if you were back home, you could feel like you were doing everything that there was to be done, but from thousands of miles away... you're just... lost.
And so, while my mom went through two hours of complicated, life-threatening surgery, BWB and I went to McDonald's to eat comfort food. This was a brilliant idea, of course, until crazy dude showed up. He sat at the next table, drinking water (no food), staring at us the whole time we were talking. We did an admirable job ignoring him, but we got up to go refill our drinks downstairs at the counter (and ok, yes, for me to order more emotional void-filling, fatty french fries), he followed us. Really creepy following. And then stood in line behind us.
We were freaking out, so I tried to ask the cashier to ask him to leave (he wasn't a customer). Note to self: Learn the words for "creepy" "follow" "stalking" and how to request that the person please ask said creepy following man to leave in Korean before my next public outing. As soon as I started talking to cashier, the dude actually hid behind a column. The cashier finally understood what we were saying, took one look at the guy (who looked like a creepy stalker), and kind of freaked out. In America if a non-customer was harassing two customers, management would have kicked him the heck out of there. However, of course, being younger than said man, the cashier couldn't say anything to him--thanks Korean culture for that one.
We went back upstairs to finish our meal. Dude follows us a few minutes later. He hovers nearby. Then he goes to the bathroom, and we just bolted for the exit. Seriously, left our tray with uneaten food and drink on the table and just hightailed out of there before the guy could come back out of the bathroom.
Dammit. We were in a restaurant FULL of people, and no one would help us by asking this jerk to leave us alone. WTF? Thing is, we have both been here long enough to know that if we had confronted him directly and yelled at him (as we really wanted to do and would have if we hadn't gotten our out), we would just have been the crazy foreigners assaulting/berating the older man. As it was, one or two girls gave us dirty looks as we ran out for leaving our tray at the table.
We "hid" (or maybe ate some Chocolate Devotion waffle cone) in a Cold Stone Creamery until it was time to call my dad back to check on Mom's surgery. She came out fine. BWB and I watched downloaded TV shows until I finally dragged myself back to the Busan train station (purchasing ANOTHER umbrella in the 7-Eleven) and guilt tripped Min Gi into picking me up from the station in Daegu. I'm home now. Safe. Talked briefly to Mom who is in pain, but awake. I am exhausted beyond physical explanations, and yet unable to sleep. But it's going to be ok. It's going to be ok.