Interactions shared, with that someone who delivers the newspapers to you every day, and his work ethics drove you to continue to subscribe to the papers, translated…
Early that morn, I’d gone downstairs to retrieve my papers, found that there was a screwdriver inside my mailbox, because my family use this tool for work often, I’d not questioned it, and, took the screwdriver, home with me.
The following day, the paper delivery person called to inquire, asked if I’d found a screwdriver in my mailbox? I told him I had. He’d told me, bashfully, that the new delivery guy didn’t know the route yet, accidentally sent the paper into the mailbox of the second floor residents, and used a screwdriver to try to pry it back out, but accidentally, dropped the screwdriver into my box. I’d started laughing out loud, a while later, that paper delivery guy came to pick up the screwdriver from me, I’d told him, you could’ve just called, and I’ll tell the residents on the second floor, why did you need to go through all the, troubles? He’d smiled that, shy kind of, a smile.
Two mornings ago, as I was flipping through the papers at breakfast, I’d suddenly found, that the subsection of the paper went, missing. This was the very first time I’d encountered this, could it be, that the newspapers forgot to print the section? No, impossible! I’d started feeling funny over my weird guesses, and asked the friend who also had her papers delivered, she’d told me, that there was, the subsection in hers, so, it must’ve been the delivery person who’d, forgotten, to put the inset in, then he’d, sent me a link of the online version of the paper, and told me, that I could write an article titled, “The Day of No Subsections of the Papers”.
like this??? Photo from online
From before when I had to rush off to work, I’d, flipped through the papers quickly, gulfing down my breakfast, and this day, without the subsection that I read, it got me to focus on eating my breakfast for once, it wasn’t, all that, bad at all, but I didn’t want it to happen again, so I’d called up the delivery person, and told him. He apologized to me profusely, and a little later, I was heading downstairs to get to work, the delivery person came toward me, with the subsection of the paper that was missing from my newspaper. And wow, he’d delivered that single page in the pouring rain, and now, I’m, ashamed of my self, I’d told him that it was no hurry, why did he have to come over in the downpour, after all, I could still find the section online to read off of. He’d apologized to me, and said that it’s his, responsibilities to.
The second day I’d opened my mailbox, and found, that other than the United Daily I subscribed to, there was, an extra copy of another newspaper. Whoa! Is it, another, mistake again? I’d called up the delivery person, he’d told me, that he was sorry he’d forgotten to put in the subsection of my paper yesterday, that he’d needed to make up for it with another copy of another paper for me. Suddenly, I’d recalled an article from the Merit-Times, but couldn’t get it anywhere, and I’d mentioned it to the newspaper delivery person, and the next day, he’d, sent me a copy.
I’d felt warmed, originally, I’d considered if I need to, terminate the newspaper subscription, but, seeing how hard the delivery person worked, his passion, and his thoughtfulness, I’d, decided, to continue my, subscription, using this method to show him my gratitude, and support too.
And so, this is on work ethics, I mean, in the above situation, the delivery person can well tell the writer to go buy herself another copy, of the paper with the subsection that he’d accidentally, pulled out, and yet, he’d gone above the call of his responsibilities, brought back the missing pages of the papers, and, sent in another copy of another paper for her, and it’s this sort of warmth in the interactions that’s caused this newspaper subscriber to keep on, ordering the deliveries of her newspaper.
The volunteer lines for the LGBT communities, in training here, this is something that’s, needed, with the increase of sexual and gender diversity, translated…
“Hi, this is the homosexual hotline, how may I be of service to you!”, this was the instinctive response that got etched into my mind the year I’d worked as a call receiver of the hotlines. Picked up the phones, was like getting the buttons turned on, immediately, I’d gotten into the various modes of answering, ready to catch the LGBT communities’ various troubles.
I’d signed on to be a volunteer, right after the public policies votes. That was when a lot of people felt upset, with the strong sense of, helplessness passing through the LGBT community. “What can I do, for them?”, it’s this thought that’s, got me, involved.
The Tiny “Secret Room”
In the times of convenience communications app, who still use the landlines? But, in the tiny room of the call center, there were, several landlines, with the volunteers, sitting in their seats, talking in whispers, looking a bit, mysterious.
Although it was called a “hotline”, but there are, a lot of the small cliques, for instance, “same-sex families”, “A.I.D.S. prevention”, “gender education”, etc., etc., etc., many of these groups needed to reach outward, the team members are all very active. Comparing, the volunteers of the call center were much, quieter, and the other groups’ volunteers would always joked, “the call center volunteers are all, autistic!”
like peeling the layers of an onion off! Illustration from UDN.com
Surely, the most active place for the volunteers is, inside that tiny room, the door into the room was like a threshold, only the call operators are allowed in. And, as we’d gone in to answer the calls, we’d, used the “false names”, and the privacies of every unique case does NOT leave the room, so, nobody knows exactly, what we’re, doing in there, and so, that made the other volunteers, feel, a bit, distant, to us.
It’s not easy to become an operator in that tiny room, we’d had to, go through the evaluations: signing up, getting evaluated, train for six months, and we had to pass an oral exam.
How Can Pressing an Elevator Button be an Obstacle?
But, I never imagined, that the very first obstacle I would come across, was pressing the elevator, button.
The location of the hotline office was at the busy Roosevelt Road, first time in, as I just stepped into the elevator, about to press the button for my floor, I’d, hesitated—there’s, a ton of different folks in and out of the building, there were, the employees of the offices, and also, the residential elderly people too.
The alarm started sounding inside my mind, like everybody was staring AT my, finger, I’d feel anxious: how would the perceive me, after I’d, pressed the “12” for the floors?
But, it’d not mattered which number I’d pressed, there are more than the hotline office on the twelfth. For a while, I’d felt uneasy over the reactions—but, WHAT was I, fearful, of?
This shame and secret got buried in my mind, and, for a very long, long time, as I got to talking with the volunteers of the hotlines, I’d found, that I wasn’t, alone in feeling like so.
Getting Involved with the LGBT Communities & Getting to Know Myself Again
After I got past the obstacle of the elevators, first what I’d needed to learn, is getting acclimated with the LGBT culture and the community: the gays, the lesbians, the trans, the bis, the gay and lesbian Christians, to the families of homosexuals, and we also needed to familiarize ourselves with the topics of safe sex, and the bad reputations for A.I.D.S.
“Gay” is too generalized a term, and we only know the tips of that huge, iceberg, so, going to classes was like opening up the minds, from the uses of the terms, the cultures (why are there more and more gay bars in business but the trans bars going out of businesses?), to the societal debates (how the H.I.V. patients would get turned down by the dentists?), and it’d made me wondered, was the world I used to know, for real?
And all of these, are what the callers faced, from their, day-to-day interactions. The male homosexuals’ are mostly concerned about their statures; the lesbians, dealing with the dual impacts of being females and lesbians, and, with the Gay bars more in numbers than the T-bars, which made well be related to how the females can’t feel safe enough to go out at night.
There are a ton of callers who worried over illnesses too, they’d gotten scanned multiple times, but still worried of contracting A.I.D.S. Reason why this is a primary fear is due to how the media press equated H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. with gays and lesbians, which is why those who’d contracted H.I.V. still keeps on hitting the walls in their lives, for instance, the dentists would use the excuses of “we don’t have the equipment to offer you your needed treatment” to turn them away, but, others who have illnesses by blood contact rarely got, stereotyped or, discriminated against.
Other than knowing those who aren’t the same as we are, we also need to get to know ourselves. That’s where the “groups” came in, the volunteer candidates would split into groups, led by those with most experiences to supervise, to take turns sharing the experiences, to dissect life, the process of accepting, hen, with the supervising individual, and the rest of the group, offering positive feedback. Before we can help anybody else, we need to know our own, selves, this was, what I’d learned, the most important lesson, of all.
The Rehearsals that Left My Heart Bumping
Surely, we also needed training in the, various, counseling, techniques too: identifying the emotions, empathy, and disclosures of our own, selves, and know the S.O.P. of taking the calls of the hotlines: greeting the individuals, understanding why they’re calling, in the conversations, collecting the data about the persons (i.e. age, students or in employment, gender orientation, gender identification, city the individuals live in, etc., etc., etc.). After we get to know some specifics about these individual callers, we’re, better able to, give them the fitting, responses.
The supervisors in class often told us, “don’t rush into giving advice”, if the advices are unfitting, to the point of not responding correctly to the callers’ problems, then, we would be misunderstood as we can’t understand them, instead, catching the callers’ emotions first, to establish that trust in conversation.
On paper, it all sounds, simple, but, putting these theories to practice, that was, something, else! We would split up into groups, the supervisors would play the caller, we’d taken turns, answering the calls, and, the members whose turns are still on the way, would sit close by and take notes—those exposed, the wrong words being used, the awkward silence, all get, captured down, and we would be evaluated on afterwards.
The supervisors used a multitude of means to interact with us. Some had, comforted us, “this is only for a few short minutes, you can, do it!”, while other supervisors get into characters right away, started in the roleplay, cried, ranted, cussed, everything, and it’d, made us, too flustered—while in reality, that, is how, multifaceted the callers can be in our line of, work!
Am I, Only, on the, Starting, Lines?
After the test trials, can we start, working on, the, hotlines? Not yet! There’s still, a final, and not everybody passes! On the day of the test, the supervisor I was assigned to played the role of an anxious mother of a gay/lesbian person, started grilling at me, “how do I know that my son/daughter is gay/lesbian?” “Can’t my child become, ‘normal’ again?” I’d used empathy, to get to the emotions being the caller, avoiding the “right answers” that might “kill”, fearing the caller would, hang, up. But, she’d not accepted my means, and continued on, and I was, stuck. As the session ended, the supervisor asked me, “why didn’t you just tell me that you didn’t know?”, then, it’d, dawned on me, how multivariate the callers can be, that there’s no one-answer-fit-all, and we can only, search for the right direction in the words of, our, exchanges.
I’d felt, very, defeated, and felt that I’d not, passed, as I got home, I was so upset, I’d finished a whole can of, chips.
And yet, a week later, I received the notice that I’d been, approved for the, hotlines, and I still can’t understand why I had, passed! After this “round”, I’d finally realized, that to work as a hotline operator, we need to have a very strong, heart, but, this was certainly, to make sure, that all the hotline operators are highly qualified to work the lines, not to miss any caller. While, as I’d started working in the hotlines……well, another story, for, another, time!
And so, this, is the training process of someone, becoming a hotline operator for the LGBT communities, because there’s this desperate need, for these individuals’ voices, troubles to get, heard, and yeah, we are now, more opened to the LGBT groups, but, there are still the issues that these individuals come across in their daily living, that they may need an outside perspective to help them see things more clearly, and that, is where this hotline comes in.
A family of, unrelated by blood, “strangers” who help one another live their lives together, translated…
The woman, Chu who lives at the entrance of the street in her eighties, had been widowed for many a year, her children don’t live close by, she’d felt the troubles of living alone, and decided to find herself some, roommates, and she’d sent out the memo at the reading club, volunteer group, as well as the dance partners in the early mornings, hoping, to find some friends with whom she could connect with for the rest of, her, life.
After the little over three months’ search, communication, three other “sisters” moved in, they all had their own special talents, and were all, without their, significant, others. The three paid a total of $15,000N.T. as the cost of utilities, and food, the four split up into partners, with each pair in charge of grocery shopping, cooking, every other week, with the extra amounts left, then, the money went into the slush fund for their, traveling plans.
like this, roommates who kept each other, company…
photo from online
And, just like that, these four elderly woman who aren’t related by blood, sharing same interests, lived their lives together fulfilled, the classes, the exhibitions, lectures, or workouts, and travels, they’d all gone to the functions, together, they’d gotten along extremely well for more than, three years since they’d moved in together. Or maybe, they’d found their places of belonging in this, third life of theirs, they’d, lived in the understanding of what to expect from one another, with ease, each and every one of them looked, spirited, full of, energy, they all looked, younger, than their, physical, ages.
Every time someone inquired Chu how they got along so very well, more than the sisters? She’d smiled and responded, that because everybody wanted to share a life together, so, they’d, let go of what they expected, with that mind of, tolerance, and helping each other grow older, that way, their can live well together, sharing the long life.
Her few words, reiterated the importance of learning to get along well with each other, something I’m, taking, from.
And so, these four, not-related by blood strangers, they’d eventually, become, families to, one another, and, they shared the commonality of losing their husbands, and they don’t calculate who spent how much on what, they do NOT nickel and dime what’s been put into their interactions, and what they got out of the interactions, they became, roommates, who are, actually, best of friends, companions, for life!
How this elderly man, INSISTED on staying independent, troubling his younger generations, as little as possible, and that, is how he chooses, to live out the rest of his old age! Translated…
“I’d never seen an elderly, who’s so strong, and independent”, the caretaker said, in a heartfelt manner. The elderly person she spoke of is ninety-three years old, originally physically healthy, but as he contracted MERS-CoV in June, he’d started, deteriorating; his wife died a long time ago, all of his children are in Taipei, but his son died a little over a decade ago. Back then, his two grandchildren were still very young, his daughter-in-law, diagnosed with cancer, no time to grieve, he’d left the property in Taipei to his daughter-in-law and grandchildren, went home to Chiayi to live alone, and found work in a local temple, rode up north every month, to bring the $5,000N.T. he’d saved as he worked, and saved up on what he needed to give to his grandchildren, and he’d done that, for decades.
And yet, the elderly man’s daughter felt that he shouldn’t just give to his daughter-in-law and grandsons, thought he’d played, favorites, and only visited back home on the New Year’s and the holidays. And, even as he didn’t have anybody to look after him, he’d not blamed anybody for it. Several months back, he’d accidentally tripped and fallen, his daughter filed for the long-term care help, and the caretaker visited him twice a week to help with cleaning the home, and bathing him, but, as he was able, he’d, not wanted to impose, and, sometimes, when the caretaker came, she’d found that he was already, cleaned off, and took care of himself.
Not long ago, he’d contracted acute pneumonia, collected his own overnight pack, checked himself into the hospital, not told his daughter, or daughter-in-law, it wasn’t until the hospital notified the family, did his daughter learn, that he’d been, hospitalized. And yet, because of work, and school, nobody went home to visit him, and he’d still, smiled on about it, he’d stayed for half a month that time, and was able to, go home.
Or maybe, in other people’s beliefs, this elderly man does NOT have a good old age, but he’d never felt any self-pity, and continued to live his days, as he is, supposed to, and, coped with whatever life, and fate throws at him. In this aging world, with the populations of elderly living alone on the rise, illness, changes, loneliness, death…………can’t be, avoided. I’d once read the article of the Taiwan Real Estate Company’s C.E.O. said: from settling into the elderly years, to aging happy, one needs three things: “The self, a means of make a living, and money saved”. I think, the means to make a living including being independent, this is, the BEST state of mind, entering into our elderly years, that way we will, age healthy, happy, and, go on living, with dignity.
And so, you can see, how this elderly man, hated imposing, and that’s why, he’d done, everything by himself, and this can be hard on some, if they see that everybody her/his age is with the company of their younger generations, but this elderly man carried the attitude of staying independent, and it is his attitude, I think, that’s made him, so well-adapted to living on his own in his own, elderly, years.
Let me see, who’s in my vicinity that might be, interested, in hanging out with me here……….oh, I see that blinker, I’ll go there then! Translated…
The first year of iPhone for me was 2007, my very first smartphone was Sony Xperia from 2012, the prevalence of smartphones in Taiwan back in 2014 got to seventy-percent of the population. The smartphones combined with the GPS system, with the friendship apps were born, made the physical bodies into geography. This turned the friendships of gale males upside down. But, before-Smart to SmartPhones, the transitional phases, there’d been, a very short-lived website: GapMap. The site is active during the “with the needs, but when the SmartPhones weren’t prevalent enough” back in 2010. I was still not yet into my doctoral program, still lived with my boyfriend at a suite high up in a building. My desk was in the midst of that penthouse, and, perhaps, due to the fengshui, I’d not, opened my field of vision, nor my life, wide, enough yet.
One day, my good friend, Doobe told me, that there was a website, GapMap, that I could see those who are…close to where I live—I’d tried register online, the image was like GoogleMap, but, with every person a dot, like the tacks on a map. And, passing the Fuhe Bridge, there were, the highly inhabited region of Zhonghe and Yonghe, living up to its name of “first class warzone”, the map needed to be maximized, then, maximized, again, to see the gaps between the people. There was a headshot like a sticker that’s, stuck on my head, I can’t remove it—looking at the face more closely, it seemed like that gay man on the twelfth floor, the one with the French dog.
something that’s like…this! found online
The Fengshui programs told that if the walls aren’t with light, our minds will always and forever be, closed. And yet, there’s, only limited living spaces in the city. I’d turned on the GayMap daily, like I was, opening the window, to see a wider, world, to resolve the problems of fengshui of my wall over my desk. It’s just, that the location of the GayMap GPS, it’s based off of the individuals’ needs, I’d often seen Elvin, Dong, from someplace, hanging themselves above the Hsintien Creek often. From upstream to downstream, the heads floated, like the ships of an ocean, very interesting, and malicious. Looked like the people afloat, actually, they’d, swum out of the Red Sea, that was, a way of appearing too. I’d not cared about cheating a lot, but, going north to south, south, to north, scanning from the origins of the creek, to the exit, it seemed, that I’d, immersed, completely, in water then.
My “field” discoveries ended, with the coming on of the SmartPhones, the friendship apps automatically set up the priorities for me based off of my geographical location in relation to others’, from near to far off. There’s only a limit to the number of people whom you can see on this trial version of the app, there’s a dense population of gay people in Yonghe, I can’t get my cursor out of Anhe and Shuanghe Boroughs at all—the hands of the goddess that’s blocked up the Monkey King of the digital era. My friend, Doobe who is out of the engineering majors, told me, that this isn’t difficult, there’s the false GPS system software. We can be physically in Yonghe, but our minds, Thailand, before we travel abroad, we’d already, set up our location at the hotel we are to check in abroad, and, gotten along with those around us virtually, and, as we physically arrived we are, already, well, connected. I’m completely taken now, the desks, the walls, and now, my imagination, became, limited.
And now, iPhone got to the fourteenth generation already, and, I’d still gotten reminded time to time of GapMap. Maybe, it’s more like that gap, opening up this tiny hole in the times. Can drag it with my hand, or, imagined a false location, I’d wanted to know the gay population in Zhoushan Island too, if there are passionate boys like me in Hai Phong, Vietnam, if there are Dongs who are like me, holding my location above a lake in Vieng Chan, Cambodia………………
So, this is how the invention of the internet, of programs like GoogleMaps, help people stay, connected, especially in this day and age, when face-to-face contact is next to impossible, especially due to the outbreak and all of that, we longed to connect, establish that sense of hey, I know you, “friend”, let’s hang out online, and see what sort of troubles we can get ourselves into, yada, yada, yada. And these apps aren’t that bad, if you use them in the correct means, if you only use them for the sole purpose of socializing, and connection.
As these words of ours that we’re all posting online, might be, damaging…translated…
Recently a friend started a diner, other than being in awe of his cooking skills, I’d hoped, that I can do something for him, to help his shop run smoothly. My friend didn’t ask for much, smiled and said, that if I’d used my articles to recommend his shop to the online community, that it may be the best form of, advertisement. And so, I’d, tapped into my editorial skills from my work from before, wrote an article for him, and gladly, the article got the attention of a group of hundreds had posted things.
As we were both happy over this, I’d suddenly found, that my personal page hits surpassed thousands per day too, but, most of the comments, they were like friendly like they’d been before, instead, the trolls trolled us for making the shop look and sounded good, that the shop my friend owned, seemed like it would cheat the guests. Some of those who made real troubles, left the messages of “the food, disgusting, and the prices, too expensive, while the owner of the shop was…well………”, then, my personal headshot got posted to the bottom of the posts, and, those “martyrs of justice” started attacking my “immoral behaviors”, criticizing about why I couldn’t do what I’d been “paid to” do, that I was, immoral in embellishing my friend’s shop, how I was, “cheating the people out of their money”, etc., etc., etc.
trolls online! like this, and this may be someone you know too! Illustration from online
It wasn’t that I’d never been bullied before, but, seeing how my headshot got cut, I started to panic for real, at the shortest time, I’d thought, that I had the photos of my family members on there too, could it be that they were also, attacked? I’d felt apologetic toward my friend too, my good intention, got abused by the online community.
In the past, our culture taught us to be courteous to one another, to be kind to those whom we meet, and yet, the online world became, a secret headquarters, betting on how you can’t see me, and I can’t, see you either, the anonymity, I’m not who I say I am, and you’re not who you say you are either, forgetting, that behind the keyboards, there are, REAL live, human beings, the hearts that are, working really hard, to make the lives, count. As our lives are, tied in to the internet, but, can we, in all the words we post online, put that empathy into what we’re, saying?
My friend did NOT blame me, but I’d still, taken a little more time, to get myself from under the glooms of the attack. And I will, never try to, help my friends in, anything, anymore.
And so this, is how the internet affects people in a negative way, because there will always be, TROLLS, those sour masses, that are, commenting on what they really got no clue about, and, these words of “you suck”, or whatever, it hurt, and, especially if these bad words can spread like a wildfire too fast, burn through the online world, damaging the reputations, hurt the feelings of someone who don’t even know those who are targeted by the online community! And this is really, B-A-D!
The lessons taught by the losing team, what’s to be learned, in the games, other than the skills used in playing to win that game, translated…
For some time, I’d gone regularly to the Hsinshen
Park on the weekends to shoot the hoops. As I played, one day, three others came to play on a team, one of them was quite tall, about 5’11…wow, he couldn’t be, an agile, player, could he? Is he, trained as a professional basketball player? Would we get, slaughtered?
And as we began…….hmmmmmmmmmmm, those who play, can tell, by dribbling, if the person can play or not. As the guy dribbled uncoordinatedly, that awkward, shot, didn’t make it, and, the ball was, way too, faraway from the, baskets.
Then came our turn as the offense, soi weird, we got the points, without even needing to try. They moved around quite slowly, couldn’t jump high enough, they seemed, a bit, timid even, on the courts.
And quickly enough, one point, two, three, six, then, they got off.
Yep, we’d guessed right, they couldn’t, play!
But, even if they’d lost to their pants, they’d still courteously, congratulated us, and this made me pay attention to them, and I’d found, that they are there every single weekend at the parks, and, in the time I’d gone to the Hsinshen Parks, they’d, never won a game, not even, once.
the comic by the writer, off of UDN.com
“So long it’s a game, we must, win!”, that’s the mindset of almost everybody, but it seemed ill-fitted to them. Even if they kept losing, without any, progresses, couldn’t win a single game, whenever they’d made a shot, they would, genuinely, feel happy for one another, high-fiving. It seemed, that they truly, loved the game, for the, game itself.
Slowly, their being weak players left that deep impression, that whenever they made a basket, we, as players on the benches would start, hooraying for them, and they’d, shown that, shy, bashful, smile.
This experience became my inspiration for my comics “Geeks Shooting the Hoops”. I learned from them, “there’s not just the winning in the basketball games”, I’m too grateful for this, valuable, lesson, they’d, taught me.
And so, this team of, losers had, gained your, respect, because of how they never gave up on playing the games, and that’s something that we can all, learn from, the attitude to which we all need to own, to face all the obstacles in our own, lives.
How simple, the world of a child is, and how easily, we tend to, complicate things, as adults, translated…
My youngest sister texted to inquire, “my daughter told me, that she wanted to play with others in preschool, but nobody wanted to play with her, what should she do?” I’d immediately tossed the question to my three, hoping that they can, give me sound advice from their angles as school-age children.
And yet, my eldest said, “I don’t have such an issue. I’m doing the Rubik’s Cube between classes, got not time to socialize with other children.” My second told, “I just want to read at break, there are so many books in my classroom I have yet to read through.” My youngest responded, “don’t have that problem either. Because I’d needed to catch on the work I didn’t do at home, or I would, stare into, space.”
Hey, it’d sounded, that my children were, strangers to their, classmates. Fine then, I can only, turn to, an elementary school boy, who’s, quite popular, and personable in his classes, my eldest, nephew then.
getting interactive with the classmates, socializing, getting to know one another, photo from online
He’d stated straightforward to me, “I don’t have that problem either. Whoever I want to be friends with, end up, being, friends with me.” “What’s your secrets of connecting to others?” I took out my, notebook then.
“If I want someone as a friend I’d smile at the person, and if s/he smiled back, then, we would be friends, if s/he doesn’t, then, we’re, not.” Oh, so, is this, the way the elementary school kids, test the waters then?
As I’d heard, my own kids nodded away, “Certainly, he surely liked to laugh, at everything!” turned out, interpersonal relations is so simple, I’d, learned a, valuable, lesson here.
And so, this is on how the adults, tend to, complicate things for ourselves, and, if we can, start thinking using the mindset of a young child, like how would a kid react to this or that situation, then, the answer would, pop right out at us, and, these solutions, usually, work too!
An elderly woman who’d, moved in, into the opposite room of the writer’s, and, their, exchanges of day-to-day life, sharing that same space of living, translated…
Last week, there’s a new roommate who’d moved in opposite of my room.
It was an elderly woman in her eighties, as she’d gone from the homes of her three daughters, she’d finally decided, to move in with her favorite son up north. My father matted up the floor, he’d told me, that the elderly would sleepwalk.
Before bedtime at night, I was called by my roommate to help her set her air-conditioning.
“Which button shall I press?”
The soft southern accent was like that tiger that’s climbed usually, from decades ago, to recently, continued to grow, with the gaps of the generations growing larger, larger, and larger. I’d recalled how the elderly got the bruises on both her knees, and asked what she’d dreamed about. She became embarrassed, told me, “I’d dreamed that I was in a fight with someone, I wanted to kick the person, but couldn’t, get to him.” I’d wanted to laugh, but felt it was, improper, and asked her, did she have a dream last night. “I’d dreamed about the president, taking my hand, telling me things, he was, very nice, and there were, many other people next to us.”
And I couldn’t, hold it back any longer, started, laughing.
Although my roommate is elderly, but she’s still, very, agile. Can still ride her electric scooter to the marketplace to shop for her own groceries, used her wrinkled hands, to select the youngest, the most youthful bamboo shoots; she can also, take a few rounds of circling around locally, and, rushed home before sundown, just in time, for, supper; and she can, also, used her voice which time had, tracked across, to get her granddaughter to turn the channel to her favorite T.V. station, channel 29.
“This soap opera ran for so very long, Fei-Fei is, really, awful”.
Good on that, golden afternoon, as the years, slowly, passed by.
And so, this, is the leisurely life that this elderly woman was allowed, and, she must’ve done something really good as she was younger, to be, granted the blessings of her good health, her agility, for she’s still, able, to run around to the markets to buy the groceries she needed.
How interesting, the affinities worked, how we don’t even realize it yet, but, in our futures, we just might (just might), get, reconnected, with someone we’d, lost contact with, but is, thinking of, translated…
One day after I was retired, Manto called, other than the chit chats, she’d inquired, if I recalled a boy who’s nickname was “Swallow” who was in my class, that if she could, give him my number or not? Those faded out to gray memories, suddenly, became bright again. He was my teaching assistant for my Chinese class, very cleanly looking, a perfect, gentleman, interacted with me very well.
turned out, that Swallow, with whom I’d lost contact with for long, had that smooth ride in life in school, and in his career path too, got married, had children, is, a member of the “Success” group of life. As he’d settled down in his life, he’d start4ed, searching for me in the high school social networks, and the internet, wanted to, reconnect. A couple of years passed, and he’d not, found me still, as he was giving up, he’d found a blog that’s mentioned my book, he’d contacted the owner of the blog, and got reconnected with me.
On the day we were reunited, Swallow took his wife and young, got up early, set out from Taoyuan, headed to his hometown in Nantou, to find the yearbooks, then, rushed, all the way to Taichung. Opened up the yearbook, we’d started, identifying the individuals in the photographs then. This group of guys, are now, working in their, separate fields, I’d, silently said a prayer to wish each and every one of them, well.
The meet up was joyous, we had a ton of things to talk about of the past, but, eventually, it came time for us to part, we’d agreed to meet up again some other time, Swallow drove in the nights, back to Taoyuan. He’d driven four hundred kilometers in a day. As I watched him leave, I’d lifted my head upward, and gave a thanks, how blessed I must be, to have, a student who kept me in his heart all these, years.
I’d taught Manto’s class on my second year of teaching, I’d married and had children, she’d brought the baby clothes on behalf of my class to give to me, she’s smiling, and gentle, and courteous, it’d made my husband’s family have nothing but good things to say of her. As she graduated, she’d drifted up north to work, and, I’d not left the small town. The two of, lost contact, like two ships, adrift, in the different paths of the seas, finding our separate docks to enter into, to depart from, to find shelters in, to drift away from. And yet, no matter how many years had passed, I still see her in my mind, smiling, on.
Ching-Han is my best friend for decades of time, I’d had to go and visit and stay with her every time I’d headed up north to Taipei to visit. That time, she’d stacked up her newly published book in her house, told me, “if you have students or classmates who’d visited your home, do give her/him one volume.” Ching-Han is passionate, and very personable, the classmates, the students, all loved, hanging out in her, home.
Manto and Ching-Hang were neighbors for long, because of Manto’s daughter getting engaged, she’d taken the pastries to give to the writer. They’d chatted for a bit, before Manto left, Ching-Hang went back into the den, took a book out to give to her, Manto looked down at the book, saw the name of the writer, so thrilled, “She was my high school instructor whom I’d wanted to, reconnect with for a very long time! You know her?”
“Searching all over the world, and, finding it, in, plain sight!”, that’s how, affinity worked. Maybe you don’t believe it yet, but, you will one day, eventually.
And so, this is, so, coincidental, I mean, what ARE, the chances, that this woman met up with this writer who’s friend IS her high school instructor whom she’d wanted to call up, but had, lost, contact with? That just showed, how strange these, affinities worked, and, sometimes, you don’t even realize this, but, you’re, already connected with someone whom you want to call up, but lost, contact with, because that, is how affinity, work, in the, strangest, ways.