I find it hard to say good-bye, but I also find it hard to say hello. When I got here four years ago, I never anticipated that one of the hardest things about being an expat would be the constant flow of people in and out of my life. Sometimes it is hard to meet friends here, but when you do, it is easy to become close to that person, especially if he or she is also an expat, because you are both puzzling your way through a strange, intense, disorienting experience. Everything is a shared adventure.
I just remembered that my fourth Taiwanniversary was a few days ago. I guess I am getting to the point where I would be considered a long-term expat, especially since we have no plans to move back to the States soon. Sometimes when you think things are pleasantly in statis, a coconut branch falls on your head from out of nowhere. Watching the landscape and faces around me change is exciting, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up. It’s the same thing with my friends back in the US. I watch them move to new cities, start graduate programs, endure grief, celebrate happy milestones, get married, have babies, but mostly through my Facebook news feed. Our lives are condensed down to a stream of status updates, photos and random links, with some e-mails and chats sprinkled in as time allows.
When I first got here, I thought a brief sojourn in Taiwan was just part of an effort to braid a rope bridge across the chasm that seemed to separate me from my family and their past. Taiwan was my family’s old home, laojia (老家), not mine. But I’m sentimental. This place has become an intrinsic part of me over the last four years. I have two 老家’s — one more place to hold on to, one more place to miss. That rope bridge is usually stretched taut, but it’s okay. As a postcard I purchased from a head shop (I was only in there for the printed goods) in Berkeley said, “Please don’t ask me to relax, tension is the only thing holding me together.”
在台北生活的外國人，都要能夠接受許多的變化. 要常常跟好朋友說再見，也會常常想家。。。但是我知道我終於回美國，我也會想念台灣。這幾年的經歷真的是苦樂參半的。還好我很喜歡苦樂參半的東西 （也許是巧克力）。。。