I am in Seat 41A on United Airlines flight 88 to Newark Liberty International Airport. I am about four hours into a 13-hour marathon from Beijing, which began in Incheon. Before that, a 42-minute express train from Seoul. Before that, a two-hour, 50-minute KTX from Busan Station. Before that, an 11-stop subway ride from Hadan. Before that, my friends’ apartment, graciously donated to me for the night.
The coffee I drink to keep me awake–as my body and mind attempt to adjust to the endless night across the East Siberian Sea–is measurably worse than the coffee I could be drinking at home, ground from beans from Costco in Centum City. It’s even far worse than the Americanos I have the luxury to complain about from time to time. But it tastes considerably better than the mysteries I chose to leave to imagination when I quit on Korea years ago.