As fate would have it, with me being in Korea and Ha being 7000 miles
away, she disappeared. From mid February to mid March I felt we'd had gotten pretty
close, but the distance outlasted the feelings. I still felt the same...I
was in love, as best as I could tell. There was something so different, so
special about her. She was brilliant. These are some of the last goofy pictures I took for her. |
Ha started an internet business in late March and I tried to help from Korea but eventually she stopped showing up on the net. She'd drop in every now and then and told me she'd get me dates for the Belgium trip but never did and then disappeared again. My feelings of humiliation grew with every day as Matt kept asking me when I was taking leave, because I had to take 30 days. I didn't know because Ha hadn't told me anything about when she could meet me there. It was like all the hurts were surfacing all over again, all of those I longed for--Audrey in gradeschool to highschool, Cathy, Karen who I followed to Japan--and now Ha. Why could I never win the one who I thought of night and day? Why did I always feel I had to settle?
Matt and I did another 5 kilometer race and sure enough, some Army guy came down from Yongsan Army post in Seoul and beat me again. Once in February, Matt and I were going to take a bus up to Yongsan to race but the bus tickets were sold out, so after this second defeat in the 5K, whenever a 5K was scheduled at Osan, Matt and I would joke about buying up all the bus tickets to Osan to keep the army guys out and ensure my victory.
On May 9, I volunteered to go to Seoul and help in a "Little Sisters of the Poor" convent, doing odd chores for the nuns there. It was fun, but I was upset because I couldn't work outside. I had repeatedly asked them to let me work outside, and it was me and one other person who ended up inside washing windows. Was I completely invisible? Did anyone even hear my voice anymore? I was becoming more and more angry at everyone. I was extremely tired of being minimalized in every aspect of my life. One of the girls on the trip seemed to like me but I didn't care. I wanted to be outside, to see sun, to feel alive like I felt when I was talking with Ha. I'd become very sensitive and emotional.
There was this little bicycle race on May 16. It was only 12 miles, and I hadn't planned on doing it because with me having a road bike, being very strong, and most people at Osan having mountain bikes, I'd have an unfair advantage. But when the situation with Ha keep getting worse I needed to show those who kept minimalizing me that it was a two-way street. I was the strongest rider on base no matter what I was riding, and I was going to prove it by humiliating everyone. And that's exactly what I did. I wanted REVENGE
I showed up on May 16, and the gentleman at the counter gave me a little number with one piece of masking tape on it. I asked if he had any safety pins and he said no. I said,"This will not hold--we're on bicycles--the wind will tear this off." It was also raining. He replied,"It should work--just put it on and see how it works". I subconsciously shook my head and walked towards the door, getting about five steps away when the number just fell off. This was the first time I began wondering if the base gym personnel knew what they were doing. After my number fell off, they got together to find a solution when I said,"Why don't we just put the numbers in our pockets?" So we did that.|
The race started on a steep climb in pouring rain, perfect for a mountain bike with the wider tires and better traction to handle the mud, but not a skinny-tired road racing bike. A mountain biker broke away on the climb, I stayed on his wheel relaxing, and then there was very sharp turn and a steep descent flooded with mud gushing across the road. I passed him on the turn and, being the poor descender I am, I easily outran him on the downhill, which surprised me (picture of a portion of that descent in more gentle weater on bottom of page, from http://www.rao-osan.com/osan-info/onbase/const/enl-dorm/170/021020-170-const.jpg). He never saw me again. I used no aero tricks--I didn't even have my aerodynamic equipment in Korea. I just had my stock bicycle, an angry rider, and I won the 12-mile race by a ridiculous 5 minutes 23 seconds--about two miles. I hadn't been training. Although I was a little embarrassed by the article my boss had written the previous month, this day I just stepped up and inside I was saying,"That guy you read about in the paper--THAT'S ME! DON'T MESS WITH ME!" I took my trophy and left.