I may owe an apology to some people I met when I was 23
I was 23 when I moved to Taiwan. I had just graduated college, after five years instead of four. I was going to teach English in Taiwan for a year, make a little money, learn a little Chinese, see some new places, whatever…and then go home and get a real job and settle down.
My roommates that first year were in their late 20s-early 30s. I understood why I wanted to teach English at 23, fresh out of college, all perky and full of potential, but I knew there was no way I’d be in Taiwan looking for work if I were any closer to the big 3-0. By the time I was pushing 30, I was going to have a job, and I’d be on a career path, I’d probably be writing, I’d definitely be happy, and of course I’d be married and ready to start a family.
Continue reading “What I know now”
Living in Philly
I moved to Taiwan in 2004 after I graduated from college. I was going to teach English for a year and then come back to the States to find work. One year turned into five, and then I moved to Shanghai to work as an editor. After a year there—and three years without going home—I moved back to the States to start all over again. This series of posts was written in commemoration of the anniversary of my life in this new town. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 4 here.
“I got Smartfood and a diet Coke from the vending machine, if you want a snack. Hey, why’s all this stuff in your car?”
“Yeah, about that. My mom and I got in a fight, so after this weekend, I’m going up to Massachusetts to stay with my brother.”
“You’ll stay with me. It’ll be awesome!” L actually seemed happy. “You can get a job and live here.”
I tried to laugh her off, then I tried to have enough dignity not to accept a handout from a friend, but finally I had to accept. Where else was I going to go? My brother was a good backup plan, but I didn’t want to go to Massachusetts in the winter and I didn’t want to sleep in a single bed and I didn’t want to take another shitty job as soon as one was offered to me.
Continue reading “Coming home (Part 3)”
I moved to Taiwan in 2004 after I graduated from college. I was going to teach English for a year and then come back to the States to find work. One year turned into five, and then I moved to Shanghai to work as an editor. After a year there—and three years without going home—I moved back to the States to start all over again. This series of posts was written in commemoration of the anniversary of my life in this new town. You can read Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.
When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them. -Andy Warhol
I came back to the US for a friend’s wedding. I scrimped and saved so I could spend a month’s salary on the plane ticket. That effort alone scared me: What if someone in my family got sick and I needed to come back in a hurry? I didn’t have any savings at the time. I didn’t even have a credit card.
I hadn’t been home for three years before that. That’s three straight years of everything being different, with the incongruities ranging from the exotic to the frustrating. Three years was too long to stay away. I had loved living in Taiwan: I loved Chinese people, Chinese culture, Chinese food, and learning Chinese, but I was starting to hate the hustle and bustle of life in busy, beautiful Shanghai. Back in familiar neighborhoods in Pennsylvania, I could get around in English, the coffee was consistently good, the clothes were all my size, and I was surrounded by the family I loved. Everybody had dogs, cats, cars and backyards. Within hours of getting home, I was messaging my boyfriend and asking him to join me, making jokes about not coming back. He didn’t want to leave.