Moving to Taiwan has been the second best thing I've ever done, next to marrying my man, and this year has marked my life like none other before it.
Grappling with loss
I guess in a way, compared to many, I lived a lucky and sheltered life in regards to loss. I managed to live 26 years on this earth before death really visited me. Sure, there were a few close calls but they were just that: close calls. And while those experiences marked me, nothing rocked my world like the completely unexpected loss of my dad. We left for Taiwan with smiles and hugs. I never dreamed that, four months later, I would be rushing to an airport and the hospital simply praying (and I am not one who prays) that my dad would still be alive by the time I made the 18 hour journey from Taipei to Seattle. Well, he made it but only for a few days. Then, he was gone. Simply gone. I still don't really know what to do with this experience. I've been sad and mad and everything in between. But, the only thing that nags at me is the very real knowledge that one day I will be here and the next... who knows. Same for Sean. Same for my friends and family. And that is what has rocked my world. It makes me want to go do and see everything right now please and it strangely makes me want to curl up on the couch with a good book and pull the shades. I think this is one of those things that it takes a while to navigate. So, that's what I'm doing.
Making great friends
The friends we've made here make Taiwan what it is for us: home. We go out to eat, we play a lot of cards and probably drink too much, we travel, we scoot, we work, we watch stupid shows, and we experience this bizarre world together. It's perfection.
More and more travels
Hong Kong. Thailand. Vietnam. Taiwan. How lucky we've been! How lucky we are. This blog started after my second trip to Europe. It was storage for my memories. It really was for me. A way to keep everything all in one place so later I could look back. I never really believed that it would expand to what it is today: a journal of this person who has traveled to many countries and lives abroad. Me. It was a pipe dream. How we got here? I'm still a little fuzzy on all the details. But, this year has been another great opportunity to step foot in more countries, get a few more stamps, and travel with some awesome people in the meantime. I know there will be many more travels to come!
Actually enjoying work
I taught for 200 days and never once had to go cry in the bathroom. Trust me, this is a big deal. Not one student failed my English or history class all.year.long. Trust me, that is a huge deal. And guess what? I'm not dreading going back to work. Holy moly. Who knew it was possible?
Slowly making adjustments
I get around on a scooter. Still, I forget. Don't wear a dress. Just yesterday, I was wearing my adorable red and white striped Anthropologie dress. The second I turned the accelerator and vroomed through the intersection, the entire skirt of the dress lifted revealing my blue lace underwear with a black bow. I scrambled to scoot one handed while trying to gather the material and shove it under my butt so I could sit on it and thus keep it down while many Taiwanese eyes followed my progress down the street. Dope.
Defining and redefining marriage
I started dating Sean when I was 17 years old. We've been together for 10 years and are coming up on 4 years of marriage. Moving to Taiwan has taught us a lot. Basically, together we can do anything. Does that mean we never bicker? Heck no. But, we always end up smiling and laughing. We like each other a lot and cannot stay mad at each other. Also, for the first time we have married friends we spend a lot of time with. It validates our idea that every relationship is different. Ours isn't the flashiest or the most romantic but it is solid and rooted in love, respect, and friendship. Being here has confirmed what I already knew to my bones: when you find someone good and worth it, pull down the safety bar, put your hands in the air, and enjoy the bumpy ride.
Letting go of the money fixation
Sean and I moved to Taiwan with nearly $20,000. That's what happens when you sell you cars and cash out your retirement. We made the choice to not worry about saving. After all, in two years Sean will be a teacher and we will literally be able to bank and entire salary and live off the other. So we decided, for the first time in our life, to set aside the guilt and worry and live it up. What has that looked like? Well, we went to IKEA and spent a pretty penny on making our new place cozy and comfy. We lived it up in Vietnam and Thailand. We eat out all the time with our friends. We buy stuff. We're not mindless consumers but if I see something I want, I don't berate myself for wanting it. Instead, I buy it. We always have plenty of money in both our bank accounts and we have never once had a credit card or spent money we didn't have. We've simply decided to not worry and give ourselves a brief reprieve from the ideals we were brought up with. After all, we're not in America anymore. Our worries have, in many senses, been lifted from our shoulders.
In all, this move to Taiwan has been a gift. It's not for everyone. Sometimes I still have Bad Taiwan Days. But, for Sean and I, we like our little slice of happiness we've been given and will continue to do everything we can to make the absolute most of it.