A few mornings ago, I woke up after a long and frigid tent-bound (and -induced) slumber in Songnisan National Park, located in scenic and rural central South Korea. After remembering where I was and realizing that the all-too-familiar sound of raindrops on my tent had ceased, I excitedly pulled on outfit #2 (of 2) and fumbled for the zippers to open the tent’s yellow door. Although the sun was shining for the first time in 3 weeks, I instantly knew that something was horribly, horribly wrong. To my utter dismay, I looked at the ground in front of my tent to find one half of my beloved pair of Chaco sandals missing! After getting saturated on the previous day’s hike, I had left them where I always do: outside my tent door, with the toes snuggly stuffed beneath the leading edge of the tent.
One was missing. Seriously? Who takes a SHOE!? I scooted out, butt-first (as is customary in the barefoot world of small tents and no one watching) and instantly stepped upon the soaked leaves coating the ground like a layer of wet shag carpet. I tip-toed a few steps, watered a withering tree, and tip-toed back to my tent. At this point, my feet—which, on any other day, would have remained dry throughout this fairly standard morning procedure—were muddy. For a minute, I just…stood there. I stared at my lone, well-loved Chaco, half expecting its mate to magically appear like food in the fridge at your parents’ house. It didn’t. Was I supposed to put that one on? Throw it away? Leave it there? What the HECK am I supposed to do with ONE CHACO!? I decided to leave it be, in case it and its mate had decided that my tent’s front door was the sandal-camping equivalent of the big statue at the front of the amusement park, below which a small sign informs visitors, “Parents, find your lost children here.” So maybe, just maybe, little Chaco was looking around for big Chaco’s meeting point—my tent. BUT WHY’OH’WHY DID YOU EVER LEAVE, LITTLE CHACO?
My life sucked for about another two minutes—both of which were spent standing, facing my tent, staring at the ground, and periodically picking my head up to see if the Chaco was hanging from a nearby tree. Oh, it isn’t? Hm. How about now? Nope, still not there.
Finally, I realized the problem: I WAS STANDING ON THE MEETING SPOT! If King Kong (or any similarly-sized monster) came and stood in front of the Mickey Mouse statue while I was trying to re-unite with MY lost parents, how could I EVER find them? I turned a quick 180 and took 1 more watery-leaves-between-the-toes step to the left. Sure enough, there he was: my left Chaco, 50 feet in front of me, obviously making its way back towards its mate and their meeting point.
I don’t know where it went the night before and I don’t have a CLUE why it ever left. All I know is that not only did it return after curfew, but it never actually returned at all—I had to go pick it up! It received the punishment it deserved, though: a gross, muddy, and neglected food that it, and only it, knows how to protect from such catastrophes.