Scooting through–

 I’ve now ridden a scooter thrice now. The first time was when I was fourteen, on the back of my aunt’s scooter, my aunt driving, my little cousin standing between her arms. I don’t think I was wearing a helmet. It was night, and we scooted through the little lanes of Tainan, past a temple, gated walls with shards of colored glass poking out to deter unwanted visitors, and stray dogs and cats. If my memory serves me correctly, there wasn’t much in the way of traffic, and it was a not-oppressively hot night. We were headed back from my grandfather’s former office-converted-to-photo-studio, where I’d somehow managed to be transformed from nerdy teenager into a made-up, wigged, dressed-up glorified version of myself that had hitherto never existed, and has hitherto never showed up again.

(is that the right usage of “hitherto”? Ah, I’m too lazy to check.)

I had changed through three dresses (one with extra padding), four hairstyles (one complete with fake ringlets), and gone through two photographers. There is also unspeakable video footage of me doing my best Scarlett O’Hara impression until the heavy wiglet ponytail fell off, and was thankfully given up on. The results were such, that when shown to my peers back home, I was so unrecognizable that I was able to successfully convince most of them that the photos were of a cousin. (All the rest of my female cousins have had their photos taken and mine will forever rest in the shadow of their gorgeousness.)

Anyway, I was on a scooter, right? It was so exciting, even though we were going very slow. My long hair was floating in the breeze, and I was thrilled and happy and free, headed back to my grandfather’s house.

People ask me why I came back to Taiwan, and honestly, it is one of the places in my life where I was comfortable being myself. Much more comfortable than where I started from, even though I didn’t know the language, didn’t know how to use chopsticks when I was in middle school. In spite of all that, I was spoilt rotten by my family, accepted and loved. I belonged in the lovely meaning of the word, I was part of a circle of love– they loved my parents, and they loved me, even if they’d never seen me before, or only as a baby or a child. Family is so strange and marvelous that way. My mother’s family in particular have always been unfailingly generous and kind.

I guess it was just being in a place I was happy with people I loved and feeling comfortable enough to indulge in my personal strain of wackiness.  I felt beautiful, which sounds silly, since it really has nothing to do with aesthetic appearances at all.  I guess it’s just when life feels marvelously vibrant, and I’m part of it.

Forgive me for the digression– I meant to tip tap more about scooting more recently, but I suppose that will have to wait…


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Free Rice

February 2007
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