Is it strange to already be trying to describe what I'm going to feel when I get back to Taiwan? I guess it would be strange not to be. It does make me worry, though, about my constant tendency to project myself into my future. I go running in the lovely bit of green parkland with my dog and I pant and imagine driving south on Highway 1 (or will it be Highway 3?) from Taipei to Hsinchu.
It's ugly at first, is the thing. I remember my dismay when I first arrived--the small, shoddy airport with its ancient plastic chairs; the dirty bathrooms, the piles of toilet paper in the stalls. And then I met the man I should have broken up with on the ruined road between Stung Treng and Phnom Pehn, but who I was to struggle another year with in this new country, and we went outside into the smell of exhaust and got onto a bus and lurched into the maze of old and new concrete that is Taipei, and I thought, "oh dear. oh, I don't know." My friend Paul told me, much later, that he was so jet lagged and hungover when he first arrived in Taiwan (many years before I did), that he seriously considered the possibility that he'd died and gone to hell. (Paul was always secretly a religious man.)
And yet, this is a love story. This time around the airport will be just as shabby, I'm sure--but I'll know where the free computers are and I'll wonder, again, why we can't put them in our airports in the US, goddammit. And I'll be met by tall angular Leah and tea-rose sweet Sally (who will happily dump a beer on you if you step on her foot in a pub. if you can get her to the pub in the first place, that is) and we'll drive back along that uglyish highway, where the gray green jungle scrub pushes up against the concrete barriers, and I will be so happy to be back. Despite the immediate tightness in my chest, because of humidity and the smell of rot and star anise, because of red and black and gold, because of dogs and the ease of hitchhiking, despite the traffic, because of mountains and sea. It makes my stomach churn, this love-hate thing. It really is like an abusive relationship.
And then I trip and lose track of my dog.
So. These are the things I remembered I felt; these are the things I think I'll feel. Is it bad to feel them ahead of time? Will I be able to get to my thoughts when I do actually get there, or am I burying them with anticipation?
Oh god. Never mind. Don't answer.