Reflections and wrapping up

4:13AM from Boston.

I left Taiwan somewhere around 60 hours ago.

So it goes. But I’m sad to leave.

Taiwan is an incredible place. The streets of Taipei are so alive, so visceral and dynamic. You can walk in a lot of cities and be an observer. Taipei is not one of them. It’s something about the movement of the cars and scooters, the twisting of the lanes. Taipei takes you in and makes you a part of all that movement. It’s so close to you. So tangible in ways other cities are not.

The mountains and nature in Taiwan is unbelievable. You can go right from black beaches to lush, jungle mountain trails, where the canopy line is draped in ivy like a heavy blanket, and no level of description will do it justice. It was unbearably hot, though.

I feel like I got to know many sides of Taiwan. Nearly every weekend was a trip somewhere else, some new adventure. And on the weekdays, it was all about exploring Taipei, having adventures in our own backyard. I think it was the time limit that inspired this drive to see and do absolutely everything in the city. It hit me in the last few weeks that I’ve never explored Montreal like this—I know the Taipei MRT better after two months than the Montreal Metro after two years. So thank you, Taiwan, for reminding me to explore my own backyard.

I love the people I met in Taiwan. The locals are unimaginably welcoming. One day I had to tell XiaoZheng, who runs the breakfast joint that I would frequent and who is so warm-hearted and had been so kind to me, that people in the US would, indeed, not treat him very kindly for not speaking English. After all the kindness of the Taiwanese people, all the accommodations they made for my shitty Mandarin, telling him that he was right about that physically hurt. The Taiwanese are not like that. They default to Friend.

Gosh, and my friends! Sophia mentioned that she didn’t know you could get that close to a group of people in such a short time, and I think that’s a great way to put it. It was like a friendship speed run. My last night in Taipei, we sat around the basement of J Corner bar drinking mega-pitchers and laughing like we had been friends for years. We stayed out until four in the morning, chopping it up and having a ball. And how sad is that, now that we’re all dispersing back out across the world? I’m not sure what you do about splitting off from wonderful people. I guess it’s the case for all friendships, and all relationships, really. You appreciate the people while you have them. You chat with them and stay up late with them and drink with them and love them as they are and appreciate the fact that you got to be a little part of their life and that you had the pleasure of having them as a part of yours. You can try to take parts of them with you. Their jokes, their relaxed confidence, ferventness for life, or the way they can speak with such genuineness that you know you don’t even have to respond. The way Ahmad says “That’s OK.”, and puts his hand on your shoulder, and you can tell he means it so truly and entirely. You can appreciate the people for being a brief part of your life, and you can try to stitch beautiful parts of them into yourself, but no matter what, it’s always going to be sad to say goodbye to friends. You’re all amazing, and if you’re reading this I love you!

I really liked who I was in Taiwan. I was so active. I felt like the agency of my own life every time I made something happen. I was creation-oriented. And I liked the way I was with other people, especially toward the end. I was making space for myself in relationships, something I felt like I had stopped doing. And I was putting effort into friendships, another thing I realized I haven’t always been best at. These things paid off, and made my time in Taiwan all the better. I plan on taking this with me.

As I got towards the end of my time in Taiwan, I know blog posts slowed down. I got so engulfed in doing everything, juicing every second in Taiwan. And that’s OK, I’m glad I did. I’ve got a couple posts in the drafts about amazing adventures, but I don’t know that I’ll ever publish them. They’re more of the same: here’s a chaotic list in paragraph form of ridiculous things I’ve been up to. And while it’s nice to have a catalogue of those lists, they’re not that satisfying wrt. my feelings about my time in Taiwan now. Contrary to my last post about details, I’m enjoying less of the single notes, and instead appreciating the melody.

I feel immensely satisfied with my time in Taiwan. As sad as I am to leave, I’m also in need of a rest. The two-month time limit meant we didn’t squander a second in Taiwan to inactivity. I was almost always on the go. Even though I didn’t do everything in Taiwan, Nick wisely pointed out to me that you don’t need to do everything to have a good time. I thought that was great, and damn did I have a good time. So it feels good to rest. To sleep in, guilt-free. I’m looking forward to slow mornings and a cup of coffee in my Taiwan-mug, and a million other things back in Montreal.