Saturday, March 25, 2006

Early spring

The past few days I've spent arranging my room, and perhaps to go even deeper, arranging my life. Unpacking all those boxes full of my stuff, full of pictures, letters, notes, books and papers from all sorts of places and times is like taking a 'review' journey of my life. Reading some of the things I wrote surprised me how well I could write back then! Something then inspired me, and propelled me to write so well, so clearly and so thoughtfully. I wonder sometimes whether that 'magic' has somehow disappeared.

Besides tidying up, hours after hours were spent organising the pile of letters and utility company bills. Sure, most have been deal with, but they're a mess, and noone seems to have any idea what is what. Slowly, things are becoming clearer. Something brother said to me today, not just the once but twice, meant a lot: "Since you've gotten back you've really helped a lot." It's good to be appreciated...

While walking around the neighbourhood, I found myself treading the same trail I used to tread on my way to school. Nothing has changed it seems, but of course much has changed; it's just that those changes may be invisible to the eye. Thinking back, it's still strange to imagine that I was then 17, and still going to high school. Thinking back, it's funny to remind myself of the 'fun' I had alone in the forest feeding those geese and ducks. I wonder if the creatures I saw just yesterday are the same as the ones I fed and was pecked by so many springs ago.

And today I cycled. Cycling, cycling I got that 'rush' again...In this country, it seems the wind is always against you wherever you are, however hard you peddle. Then again, cycling give you a free feeling, a feeling of being able to ride to wherever you want, at whatever speed you want to. And the roads were clear, clean, and green. Though the trees are still bare, crocuses dotted many fields I passed by. Though the air was cold and dry, the skies low and cloudy, the sun seemed to be poking its rays and warmth out.

It's early spring.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Things everywhere!
What a mess! Gets worse as I unpacked...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My bare must start somewhere!

Home again

Home again.
It’s been a long journey, one lasting almost five years. What have I accomplished in those years? A three-year degree, a year working experience, and a year of wandering the ‘world’ in search of myself.

It felt strange to step into the doors of this house again. Even stranger to sit on this bed, and to know that momentarily I will fall asleep in this house as if those five years meant nothing. A clear, starry night outside my window. I remember I looked out those windows and found company in the moon whenever it appeared. Two years I lived completely alone, at the height of my teenage years. Brother had gone to university already, and my parents were already working back in Taiwan. So I spent those years and many more days alone in this big house. The freedom, the loneliness, the silence, the possibilities.

Everything is still a bit haywire at the moment. My boxes of belongings are still in boxes, and need to be unpacked. My room is now basically an empty room with empty cupboards and wardrobes, with only a bed that has been recently made in anticipation of my return. Other parts of the house are also a mess, since brother and his girlfriend have had little time to arrange things properly. Boxes, letters, advertising, manuals lie strewn everywhere. In a darkened corner in the dinning room stand all the things that the previous tenants have broken and shoddily tried to mend with cellotape and glue. Many more places in and around the house are dirty and run-down. A number of windows have shattered, some with small holes the size of bullets through them. It seemed like throughout the four years the tenants never bothered to clean the place, and instead treated it like it’s not their own. But that’s all in the past now.

My “Little Cat” is not so little any more, but has grown bigger, especially around her waist area. She hid herself when I came back, but then dragged her behind down the stairs to greet me, and purred as soon as she smelt my hands and heard me calling her. Crazy cat, I wonder what was going through her little her when she saw me after such a long time. She definitely recognizes me, but then she’s still a bit ‘shy’ and runs away from me whenever I approach too fast. In contrast, my brother, to whom she rarely went before I left, now gets the give-me-attention treatment as she straddles around his feet, brushing her little head and tail against his legs. In time she’ll come to accept my presence again, as I accept my presence in this house I’ve not lived in for five long years.

Time to start afresh. The next few days I should be busy arranging my room, and other places that need to be cleaned and organised. Then there’s lots of paperwork to sift through…bills, letters, announcements and junk mail. And dad asked me the daunting task to go ‘negotiate’ with the bank about the mortgage. This I was reminded of again when I called today to say that I arrived safely.

Home again. At least I’m safely home again. And brought back all the things I’ve learnt all along the way.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Leaving is difficult, going is much easier...

20th March 2006

23.15 : 09.40

It's been raining the whole day. And it still is.

The suitcase is packed and locked, my backpack is ready. A long journey of almost twenty hours in total ahead of me. Once again, I’m leaving home in order to go home. It’s seems so unreal to think that the next time I type again, I’ll probably (who knows…) be half way around the world.

My flight is in the middle of the night. I’ll be flying over the length of Taiwan, from north to south. I’ll be thinking of the people beneath my feet, as the plane soars higher and higher. Though they will be scattered in mountains, cities and villages all over the island, they no doubt will for a few moments be united in my heart.

Farewell, my dear friends!
Farewell, my dear family!
Farewell, my dear island!

May you all fare well, through rain or sunshine, through dark nights and bright days, and find peace and happiness each and every moment we are apart.

We shall meet again, if not in the future, then in my memories.

Final night at home

Everyone seems to have fallen ill in the last couple of days, and everyone at home seems so tired. Dad’s been getting sore feet, which may be related to his (worsening?) illness, while mum’s come down with the flu, and been having strange stomach trouble. I woke up with a slight sore throat that has left my throat dry and rough the whole day.

I’d like to think it may have something to do with me leaving. Then again, the weather has been very strange lately too. First it reached almost summer levels of heat and humidity yesterday, and today wind started to blow as if a typhoon is arriving. I wonder what the weather will bring tomorrow.

Perhaps it’s the pre-departure blues or symptoms? In less than 24hrs I’ll not be here anymore, but most likely on the plane, flying higher and higher, flying further and further away from Taiwan. In the past, the day I’m about to leave it almost always seemed to rain. I naively imagine that the skies were shedding tears. Then, the moment I take off the skies seem to clear up again, so I can watch the dazzling lights beneath my feet through my oval plane window (window seat a ‘must’ for me on such long-haul flights).

We’ve not done anything together ever since I got back from my farewell trip. Again, I half expected that perhaps we’d be able to use this weekend for ‘family outings’ and ‘get togethers’. Instead, cold war continues. Dad does his reading, his smoking and sleeping, and spends most of the time in his room. Mum and I have been spending more time together, doing some last minute shopping and looking around. Though at times I feel guilty, or at least uncomfortable that dad is not with us. But dad chooses and chose to live life separate from everyone else. There’s nothing much I can do, or anyone can do, unless you want to be accused of trying to interfere in his life.

The only time when we’re together, and not talking, is when we sit together for dinner. Usually silence is the company for each of us, even though we are sitting at the same table and could easily reach out to one another. But somehow the atmosphere is so awkward and so tense nobody really bothers to start a conversation. When someone does talk, it’s usually a comment which ends within a sentence or two. I don’t think I’m bothered, as I just continue eating slowly and mindfully as I’ve learnt to do. I’m always the last to finish. But I could see that neither mum or dad is happy being at the same table. So sometimes I really wonder what the point of eating together really is. Perhaps we only eat together because I cooked that meal, and perhaps because I’m still here.

But by this time tomorrow, I’ll no longer be here. And they can both go on living their separate lives and stop this charade of sitting and eating at the same table. And they can continue living lives together, but not trying to get in one another’s ways. And they can feel tense, uncomfortable and unnatural whenever the other is around, and they can continue to perhaps hope deep down that the other would somehow just leave for good. Could I change any of that? Would I be able to see any of that?

I’ve learned something living at home this time. Home could be the place you don’t really want to be at. It could be all a fabricated myth of a place of shelter and comfort, of warmth and affection. More and more, I feel the distance I must travel each time to be at home. Bridging people, bridging damaged and distraught relationships is tough. They are right to say that you can choose your friends, but not your family. And I think I’ve stopped trying to change anything, but instead come to accept things as they come and go. That way, I live with more ease and less remorse at what I could have done but could not do.

And so as I’m about to leave home, I could only leave with my suitcase and the wish that mum and dad could have wisdom and clarity to see through their petty little feuds and hatreds. Before I’d leave little notes, long letters and symbolic gifts at home to greet them—each carefully thought out and planned in order to remind them the importance of mutual tolerance and understanding, of respect and love for one another. But this time I’ve done nothing. I think I’ve done enough already.

Sometimes you need to be selfish, especially me, someone who often places the happiness and wellbeing of others ahead of my own. And in leaving this time, I’d like to think I’m putting me first. I have my own life to lead, I have my own future to look forward to, and I have my ambitions and education to pursue. I can no longer stand to be around a place and people who seem to depress and blunt my youth. I simply cannot go on thinking and believing that without me everything stops. Life goes on, as it always does. Whether it goes on happily and peacefully, or in misery and uncertainty depends on a change of mindset and the attitude toward it.

Here I go.
Here I come.