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.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

A Return to Kaohsiung
February 22, 2003

There's always a feeling of separation anxiety when I leave New York. Never enough time... a wistfulness... a feeling of unfinished business... The day before I left New York I met with my friend J and reflected on my second visit to New York in a month. She commented that she didn't know how I kept up with everyone and arranging my days around meeting and catching up with friends.

"I don't know how you keep up with everybody and arranging to meet them. If I were you, I'd be exhausted. You must be exhausted."

"Well, I am on vacation after all and that's all I have to do, that's why I'm here, to catch up with friends and spend time with them," I said realizing how precious my time in New York always seems and how fortunate I am to be in a position that allows me to take these long breaks for visits, but at the same time realizing that it sometimes feels like a stop gap measure.

Then, putting down my barrriers of being Ms. Super Graciousness, I sighed and said to J:

"Yeah, damn it, it is hard work sometimes. There are so many people I would like to see... I don't have a cell phone, so the onus is on me to get in touch with people, and track them down, call them back... everyone has busy schedules, I'll run around across town, uptown, downtown to meet several people in one day. It's the only way I get to see everyone, well almost everyone, even then there are people I haven't been able to see."

There's a true friend -one who sympathizes with your "problems" of exhaustion due to a too busy social calendar.

Leaving New York and my return to Taiwan.... something had changed. For one thing, I viewed it as a return, not an arrival. Stepping out of the plane into the warm, inviting air, the sun shining down on everything as if just polished with a silver polish cloth. I felt the casual southern hospitality of the simple, straight talking, warm taxi cab drivers at the airport. OK, perhaps some of the sentiment was because I had just emerged from the East Coast blizzard just a few days earlier. But I think that it was more than just that. As I rode in the taxi from the airport back home to my apartment in Kaohsiung, there was a sense of calm familiarity, relaxation, and gentle anticipation. I admired the wide roads lined with palm trees and watched the familiar landscape roll in front of my eyes. It's the same route that I ride home on the bus from the college where I teach, so it's one that I'm especially acquainted with. I didn't feel pressured or anxious about the new incoming students- somehow the Spring semester is always easier for me.

I'm looking forward to pressing forward with more of my personal goals this year. I realize that being in Taiwan has allowed me to uncomplicate my life, to prioritize, explore and develop. I'm very thankful for the lifestyle I have now. It allows me to make these discoveries, but there's another kind of pressure brewing as I try to assess how much longer I want to stay in Taiwan, what I hope to accomplish in that finite amount of time, what, where, when and how I'll make my transition back to the United States.


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