Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

First Stop, New York
January 17, 2003

I arrived at the appropriately, fashionably late by one hour time- though this was not as calculated as it seemed. It was more the result of a last minute phone conversation that delayed my preparation and departure.

As soon as I arrived, I scanned the crowd of stylish and professional singles chatting each other up and clutching the requisite glass of wine or bottle of beer. A man leaned in, absorbed by the witty, charming conversationalist by his side. Others not quite in the moment listened as intently as they could, eyeing for other prospects. Women politely eased their way away from tiresome, flat conversationalists. Others grew bolder and intense as they sensed the interest meter of their counterpart rising.

I never really quite know how to make an inroad into these social cocktail hours. Going in "cold" has never been easy for me. It often helps if you clearly and undeniably overhear someone’s comments (as in loud enough that you can't help but "overhear")- thereby providing a safe space to respond or participate in their conversation. The last thing I’d want to do would be to jump into an eavesdropped conversation in stalker-like fashion. I didn’t even have time to confront any possible feelings of anxiety when to my surprise, I heard someone calling my name. I looked over to see the familiar looking, friendly face of my friend’s younger brother, S. I felt so received and accepted as he introduced me to his friend and asked me what I was doing in New York, about life in Taiwan and other standard questions... It was comforting to know that I could stay in this safe zone catching up with S. But although I had arrived alone, I was not really on my own since I supposed was to meet up with a friend of mine at the cocktail hour, so after I felt that S was sufficiently satisfied with my responses to his questions, I excused myself to search for my friend.

I had forgotten how playful and fast-talking my friend C can be. Before I knew it C had convinced a complete stranger to buy me a glass of wine. I could count the number of times that “strange" men (i.e. non acquaintances) have bought me a drink. It seems that I’m a little out of practice in these settings. Time for an attitude adjustment... perhaps it’s more that while I do enjoy witty conversation and meeting new people I don’t like to take advantage of hopeful single men by playing the game of trying to get a drink out of them. I was back in the game.

Just 48 hours ago I was in Taiwan. Now I was at an Asia Society cocktail hour where in the first hour I bumped into more old acquaintances and I nearly got into an argument with a complete stranger over the sovereignty of Taiwan. Ok, so I didn’t have quite such a colorful exchange- I overheard a woman who quipped that “Taiwan is just a part of China" as she looked at the interactive map showing art collections from the Asia region (a map which labeled Taiwan and China separately); when I pressed my point: "Taiwan has its own democratically elected President and government, its own currency and military... Taiwan doesn't have China to thank for where it is today" she just cowered like a sheep and her friend even stepped in and sided with me. Guess I found the sore spot between them. That led to an interesting conversation with my "ally", who happened to be this guy who was born and raised in Kaohsiung, where I’ve been living and working for the past year.

Later on, somehow my girlfriends C and Sy managed to get all three of us taken out for dinner that night too. I was just “along for the ride." I don’t know how these girls do it?!


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