What I know now

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.

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Coming home (Part 4)

Starting all over again in Harrisonburg

This was written in 2011 but I never posted it. 

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 3 here.

 

I rented the first and only place I looked at just a few days before my first day of work. It was a room above a bar. I knew it was above a bar, but the property manager assured me that it was never very noisy and none of the previous tenants had ever had a problem. I figured that in a small town like Harrisonburg, the local pub would never really get rowdy enough to be a problem.
Continue reading “Coming home (Part 4)”

Coming home (Part 3)

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.

Thanks vic15

Continue reading “Coming home (Part 3)”

Coming home (Part 2)

Living in Pittsburgh

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 1 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

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.

One word I would banish from the dictionary is ‘escape.’ Just banish that and you’ll be fine. Because that word has been misused regarding anybody who wanted to move away from a certain spot and wanted to grow. [She] was an escapist. . .You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right, too. . .I think we have a right to change course. – Anaïs Nin

I don’t know exactly what I was thinking when I moved back to Pittsburgh. In retrospect, the whole mad dash to get away from Shanghai was too hasty, even for me. Not that it wasn’t a good move, but I could have been more graceful about it.

Thanks JBlough!

Continue reading “Coming home (Part 2)”

Coming home (Part 1)

Leaving Shanghai

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.