As our very first stop to our long journey around the world, I’ve made it to my home away from home: Taiwan. Being the hapa haole that I am– for those who don’t know what that means, it’s a name for someone half white and something else; in this case, Chinese– I come from two very different families. They’re literally from opposite sides of the planet. Which makes it hard to stay connected with all of them. Of course, I have my family on Oahu, and those that visit from the mainland now and then. But the deep connection I feel to my family in Taiwan hardly gets to be strengthened due to the immense distance of ocean that lies between us. But here I am, in my home away from home. And as with every time I return to this wonderful place, I can feel the very air charged with the sentimental energy of all the visits before.
It’s hard to explain the strangely deep feeling I have every time I’m here. It’s a feeling of love and contentment that has grown over the past seventeen years of aquaintance, but it’s more deep than this; for I have to mention that I still barely know any Mandarin, and because of that I am surrounded day and night by words spoken in a foreign tongue. My dad used to complain all the time about being stuck in one of these family gatherings where, for all he knew, they were insulting him for the entire dinner in another language. But for some reason, I revel in this strange experience. It’s just such a comfort to be surrounded by my family and hear them talking together, regardless of whether or not I can understand them. But most strange yet precious of all is my bond with my two favorite cousins. I’ve known them all my life; we used to play with toy guns and cars together all over the house when we were little, the very same house I sit in now as it continues to echo the sounds of laughter from another time. Now, even though their English and my Chinese have both improved a bit (I’ll admit, I’m still the worst at this bilingual thing) there’s still a huge language barrier between us. But, just as we were able to enjoy each other without words in our childhoods, we are now more close than ever even though between us lie boundaries of language, miles, and years. It’s such a relief to know that such a family connection can endure regardless of all those conditions, and it’s so great that I have the chance to visit these people I love so much on the island I feel so connected to. I’m sorry for rambling but it’s true; I love this place and these people so much. In fact, that’s why I insisted that we come to Taiwan as our first stop instead of our last; so that I wouldn’t get to sad when we left.
I’m signing off from my home in Taiwan. Zaijian!