Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 46: Hitting Reset

A brief break in the clouds on an overcast day.
Three flights of stairs with my stuff and I plop it down on the bed. It's been a long week, capped with a good road ride this morning and a mind-numbing four hours at work to make up for the cancelled day of school due to the typhoon that never happened. Nonetheless, my new (old) landlord is excited to tell me every detail about the place and make sure I feel comfortable and welcome.

It's not that I don't appreciate it, as I appreciate any gesture of goodwill at this point, but I'm tired and just want to finish moving what I can and go to bed. But we spend thirty minutes trying to figure out why the internet will not work, to no avail. He is concerned because he will be going to the south of Taiwan later this week and does not want to leave me without internet for that long. Personally, I am a little excited at the prospect of coming home from work and not being able to waste away my hours, only to check the time and realize it's time for bed and I've lost my entire evening.

Only after explaining exactly when he will finish all of the remodeling and clean up, as well as how to work the air-conditioning, hot water, refrigerator, de-humidifier, washing machine, and on and on and on, do I finally get a chance to go back to my old apartment to grab another load before I call it quits for the night. Has he forgotten that I lived in this apartment for a week when I first moved here?

Riding across town on a folding bike with an 85 L backpack loaded with clothes, duffel bag stuffed full of toiletries, and messenger bag with other miscellaneous items is sure to garner some stares in just about any city, but the fact that I'm one of only a few weiguoren (foreigners) in Yilan doesn't help. On any given day, people shout “Hello!” and “How are you doing?” when they see me, as many travelers to this part of the world have noted. Beyond their few memorized English phrases, they know nothing of my native language, and I know very little of theirs.

I moved here to take a teaching job, but really I moved here to experience a new part of the world, and I have certainly been doing that. It seems that no matter where I go, I have difficulty staying in the same place for an extended period of time, a pattern that has been consistent for the past two years. Just over six weeks in Taiwan and I've already moved twice. But hopefully this will be the last time for a while.

View from my balcony
I can't say it's all gone according to plan, but then I never really had a plan. Hell, I didn't even know how to say hello when I got off the plane. Considering I usually spend an excessive amount of time researching and planning just about anything I do, this was quite the departure from normal for me. I knew next to nothing about Taiwan before I came, and despite fairly extensive travel throughout the three North American countries, I had never left the continent. And then one day I get on a plane with no plans to return for at least a year.

Not knowing what to expect, I was still rather surprised at how familiar it all seemed. Stepping off the plane should have been more dramatic, I felt, but after almost 20 hours of travel I just wanted to get to my destination. I'm still the same person, only in a different location. This should not have surprised me, but somehow it did.

Just trying to stay afloat
There are all sorts of people in the world, and I have met some wonderful people since I have been here. In particular, there are several people who have been instrumental to my survival and I am deeply indebted to them. Clich├ęs exist because they are so often true, and this instance is no different: a person's true beauty lies within. There is too much beauty in this world to waste our time on ugly people, and sometimes we must take action to remove them from our lives.  But sometimes we get lucky and they do the dirty work for us.

I've learned an awful lot since I've been here, and this feels pretty damn close to a fresh start. How often do we get an opportunity like that? Time to make the most of it.

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