>So, in general life has been picking up. Work is going well and I’m moving soon so with luck home will be enjoyable once again. I’ve been to some great gigs, some plays and the weather has been decent. But there was one thing that has happened that made me sad.
Step-step went home.
First, some history.
I met Stefanie in the airport on the way to China in the fall of 2006. I went to China by accident. In the summer, shortly before I was off to Cambodia, Brendan came to me and asked if I wanted to go to China for Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving, kinda). I said sure… who wouldn’t want to go to China for Chuseok? But the travel agent needed a 100,000 won deposit (about £50) and I didn’t have any extra cash before my trip to Cambodia. Turns out I didn’t have to worry – not only had Brendan already signed me up before calling me on the hopes that I would be inclined towards going to Chiner – he had paid the deposit as well to ensure I had a spot (and to ensure he wasn’t on the trip on his own with a bunch of wankers).
I warned Brendan before we met at the airport that I wasn’t going on the trip to make any new friends. I’m not sure now if something had happened shortly before the trip, but I was really hating white people. Maybe I was just thinking back to the last trip I went on with Brendan and a bunch of white people. I don’t know. But I can’t say I was not pleased when Brendan started chatting with two girls – two American girls – in the Gloria Jean’s coffee shop at Incheon International Airport.
Brendan knew Brittany from church and Brittany and Stefanie lived together. Brittany and Stefanie. I only remembered their names in the beginning because I thought that they sounded like a duet in a strip show. They seemed really nice but I really wasn’t into ruining China with people that could turn out to be idiots. American idiots, as it were.
Well, in the interest of making this long story a wee bit shorter – Brittany and Stefanie were of course awesome to have on the trip. The two of them and the two of us joined together to make Team 6, a legacy that endures to this day even though we are split by many, many miles.
Eventually Brendan and Brittany both very selfishly left Korea, leaving just Stef and I (and John, technically, but that’s something different). Stef was so much fun to hang out with once it was just the two of us. We did ridiculous things together (the least of which may not have been our adventures in North Korea). Eventually she went as well (leaving me, cruelly, with just John) and I missed her immensely. Buying pirate socks on a Saturday mornings in Itaewon just wasn’t the same after she was gone.
But then Stef came back to Korea. Her timing was terrible. She came back just as I was leaving. It meant that she could take my job and my apartment, but it also meant that we couldn’t hang out because I was going and she was staying. Worse, I was on my way to England and I thought then that she’d be going back to the States when she was done in Korea. Luckily, I was wrong.
After Korea, Stef went through a lot of bureaucratic nonsense and other obstacles to study at Oxford. I was ecstatic. Oxford is only an hour by train from London! Over the ten months that Stef lived in Oxford, I managed to get out there a few times and she managed to get to London a few times. Really, I think it was more than I would have ever dared to ask for.
On her last weekend in the UK, Stef came to London to visit. The first night we went to see Wicked – the third musical I’ve been to in my life. It was very entertaining and it was a lovely gift from Stef. After the show we went for pizza and then walked through London from Victoria to Waterloo, taking in the sights of London at night. Our destination station (Waterloo) prompted a lot of Abba singing… not from me, but from Stef.
I currently go to Waterloo station every day on my commute. Now whenever I get there that damned Abba song gets stuck in my head. But because it is being sung in Stef’s voice, it makes me smile instead of scream.
::END SIDE NOTE::
On the Sunday we really just cruised around. Walked the canal for awhile but was driven inside to the Underground at Angel to finish our trek north because of rain. Explored Camden Market a bit and bought our customary matching bracelets. Traveled to Leicester Square and had dinner at a Korean restaurant before walking through the shops in Chinatown. Then through Covent Garden to the Maple Leaf where Colin met us. Then the three of us stopped in a Commonwealth shop (that had ketchup chips – oh my!) and then to the Porterhouse. Going to a Canadian pub and an Irish pub in the same day seems to be have been our regular MO for some time now. After that it was time to take Stef to Paddington so she could head back to Oxford and then fly away on the Tuesday following. It was a lovely weekend altogether.
Stefanie is someone that reminds me that certain people are brought into your life for a reason. It would be very irresponsible of me to treat our friendship lightly when the universe conspired so deviously and so many times to bring us together. Stef and I are very, very different people; sometimes in fundamental ways that you would think two people would not ever be able to look beyond. Additionally: We are different ages. We grew up in different countries. We don’t necessarily enjoy the same music, books or movies (although there is some cross-over, Stef is entirely on her own with the whole “Teenage Occult Romance” genre.) It seems both strange as well as serendipitous that we both ended up not only in Korea at the same time, but in the same Korean ‘burb. And that we each had a Catholic friend (neither of us being Catholic) that attended the same church. That those two would bump into each other in the airport on the way to China and bring the four of us together. That in the end, both of us would end up in England, of all places. I think we were probably meant to be friends.
So Stef…. I’d like to thank you friend. For the pirate chatter and laughs, the giddiness and the beers we inevitably always drank immediately after detoxing. For the wanderings through markets in Korea, China and England. For sending Korean Anytime candies to my moms. For not just tolerating my inane theological questions but for having the patience to answer them and to seek answers for them. For being generous of character and of heart. For a million other things both large and small. For being you. For being my friend.
Indiana may be happy to have you home. But England is just that little bit less sunny for having lost you. I’ll miss you, Step-step.