We’re back in Taiwan and how quickly the summer has flown. We managed to fill our days with lots of activities, despite our lack of obligation. The one thing that remained steady and flowing was our yoga practices. In August, we began to do more frequent sitting. I don’t know if sitting and trying to stay with the breath is really what meditation is all about, but we’ve been trying to do something like that.
We were spoiled the final 2 1/2 weeks in Sweden. We stayed in a friend’s flat and while they were mostly always at work, it was such a lovely place. I felt nothing but gratitude while we were there and they were so much fun to be with when they were home. Truthfully, I was beginning to feel very attached making the final few days uneasy.
Let’s face it, I always get a bit anxious before I travel because of all the things I have to do or the things that lie ahead. I love Asia because its so different from American/European culture. Yet, for those same reasons, I also sometimes despise it. I’ve experienced some major isolation in Asia, both mentally and physically.
As a result, the days leading up to leaving Sweden flew by all too quick. My boyfriend stayed steady throughout, assuring me it’d be okay. As we boarded the plane, I felt uneasy and was not looking forward to the lengthy journey and possibly upcoming time ahead.
11 hours of plane travel, a 5 1/2 hour layover in between, a frantic rush to inform our friends in Taiwan of our (late) arrival on a pay phone that I couldn’t decipher, and sprinting aboard the 1 1/2 hour train ride to Chiayi, we finally made it on Saturday evening. Spaced out, hungry, and bewildered, we were brought to our “place” at 10:45pm.
The apartment building is old. The style hasn’t changed probably since the 70’s or 80’s. Inside the concrete walls and dark hallways, our apartment isn’t much more colorful. Before cleaning, the kitchen cabinets were coaxed in brown goop and the walls had a sort of brownish tint to the eggshell white walls. The floors and furniture were dusty, the refrigerator had black eggs inside and a live cockroach. “Overwhelmed” would be the word to describe the feeling and I felt an empty sensation in my heart. I was tired, bewildered and nearly frustrated. We were sans (without) a scooter, no phone/internet, and nothing to help us clean; but despite the dumpy looking place, I was actually complacent and something felt incredibly familiar.
Incidentally, I was reminded of my humble beginnings in Korea and the months after that I completely fell apart. I remember, all too clearly, being left in a filthy apartment – and feeling so utterly and incredibly alone. I revisited my survival and how by the end of my 1 1/2 years in that first apartment, I was okay. I had managed and despite the emotional turbulence, I hadn’t entirely given up.
So, as we laid on the bed at midnight in Taiwan, nearly 4 1/2 years later, I am reminded that I can survive and that humble beginnings can bring great endings. This is wonderful because it only helps me drop unrealistic expectations. It can only really go up from here and it already has. Despite feeling utterly exhausted, I was kind of whatever about it and it wasn’t because I was passive or giving up, but it was more because I was grateful. I was grateful because I had been here before and I was grateful because the next morning when we woke up, I knew where we needed to go to buy stuff (even if it was a 45 min walk away in the sticky, heavy heat). Most of all, I was incredibly thankful that to have my partner with me. Having his company, support, and love is making and has made all the difference in the world.
I mean, every couple should have a chance to live in a dumpy place. I suppose it might help set the tone with lower expectations.Things can only go up from here.