It has been ten years since I came back to visit my birthplace Taipei. I was immediately dazzled when I arrived at city center where my hotel is located. I cannot remember how many times I have hung out in the area when I still lived here, but now I feel so lost after all the dramatic changes. Happy to be home but I feel like a stranger.
The entire city is connected through MRT (a clean and efficient subway without single graffiti) and bus system. I have route chart in my purse and can travel painlessly from one place to the other. I have walked miles after miles in the streets looking for MRT signs, tasted almost everything that I missed and sneaked out whenever I can to take pictures.
It is very difficult to refuse long time friends’ hospitality and reception. Easy 3-5 hours can be spent in a coffee shop to play catch-up, still unfinished. Since I got here, I have only one free day to hang out in the bookstore and visit my undergraduate school. I also made it to my grade school watching little school boys and girls playing. All the classroom building are new, but my old feeling and emotion won’t never go away. It almost drew me to tears walking on the playground. I was the 2ndtallest in the class and the president of the class for 6 years. But, when school play needed a tall girl to be the groom of the key role, Rat Bride, I was not chosen because the bride was even taller than I. I was heart-broken for a while.
In my childhood, I loved to watch puppet show. The guy who held the puppets not only did a great job manipulating the characters, he was an awesome story-teller. He made the puppets come alive and entertained the big and small audience. He worked behind the scene, the no-name hero. There are so many heroes in our lives that we have never seen but they left imprints in our heart that last forever.
At age 6, I wanted to help my mom to pump water from the well in our living complex. I was too ambitious and had too much water in the bucket.
On the way back, I dropped the bucket of water and my left big toe nail was split into half by the sharp edge of iron bucket. I only remember that it was bleeding hard and I was taken to a nurse. My old brother later said, I did not cry at all. Really? I must be tough. The scar is forever although old style well is no longer existing.
Like these little ones, I ever surrounded the man who was skilled in making wood molds himself with various shapes of animals and fruits.
I am not sure how he made the candy dough that can be blown and shaped into little rabbit, turtle, pineapple or bird, but it was fun to play with candy animal before melt them in the mouth and eventually swallowed them down the throat.
This food art is no longer available in the marketplace. It was touching for me to watch the wrinkled hands to keep innocent faces smile in folk art culture center. Our children do not have a traditional childhood any more. Their leisure time are spent on Iphone and Ipad. Young parent’s expectations have created for them a busy life early on, learning piano or violin, play soccer or basketball, run or swim, or anything else that will make them distinguished in any way, and be competitive.
Banana is my favorite fruit, but I have not tasted this kind for ten years. The size of this banana is less than two inches long, but it has an outstanding flavor and texture. The taste is far superior than what we can find in regular supermarket.
Guess what? I even discovered its flower that I have never seen. Plant, Flower and Fruit are three natural progression of a growth, but I often ignore one or the other.
I certainly appreciate the time I have in hand now. If there is one thing I like about retirement, it is time.
Except in classic Chinese movies, I almost forgot about this old-fashioned wooden door. It is constructed with very simple idea and mechanism, but it worked well.
Before I went to grade school, I actually lived in a house with this kind of door. It is welcoming when you open the door with two hands spread out.
When you get mad, you cannot slam the door easily like we do in modern days. You have to close the first panel, then the second and latch them together. Your ‘flame’ might have been reduced and diminished by the time when the door is being latched. We want everything efficient and speedy, but slow motion gives us time to re-think and not rush into decisions.
It has been almost 30 years since I left my root ground and went to a foreign land afar. Now I am reversing my route back to where I was originated from.
Every day, I either meet a friend, a group of classmates, a group of our relatives or play solo with my camera. Whatever I do and wherever I go, my mind is filled with old memories. It is not just this ten year lapse, it is decades length that I have not been so close to my root and thought about it every day. I miss home back in Oregon and meanwhile, I feel like to stay here longer. Where do I really belong? I am not sure if I can ever answer this question.