December 17, 2009

Ten Years On/In Taiwan

When I left Indianapolis a solid DECADE ago today, it was my intention to stay here for two years, complete two contracts at a chain school, take as my second contract bonus the proposed return ticket to the States and Start Over.

Things don't always work out the way we plan them for one reason or another.

From time to time, though not as often as before, people stop me and ask why I decided to come to Taiwan in the first place, and I usually say 921. 9/21 was the day that a massive quake struck the central part of the island back in 1999, killing thousands, and sending hundreds of foreign English teachers looking for safer surroundings.

At the time, I was teaching ESL at IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis and eager for a change. After lunch, I was supervising students in the language lab when I saw a headline on CNN about the massive tremor. And the events that brought me to Taiwan began to unfold. No reason to bore you with them now.

If I'd had a few more days to ruminate over them, I'd have collected a basketful of changes that I've seen in the past ten years, but honestly, it wasn't until I was signing homework books this evening that the numbers 12 and 17 placed so close together struck me as somewhat familiar. When it dawned on me why, my respiratory system attempted to sigh and gasp at the same time and my chewing gum went up my nose.

Now that I've been here 5 times longer than initially anticipated, I figure that I'm about halfway through my time here, having started a family and a business in just such an order. There's a list floating around somewhere of signs that you've been in Taiwan much too long. One of them is "Your friends and relatives stop asking when you're planning to move back."

I have no idea if anyone has ever asked me that question, because I surely can't remember the last time it happened. Once I got over here, there was so much on this side of the world that I figured I owed it to myself to go see, and Taiwan was the sort of place where you could live simply and save up some cash and go out and see stuff.

A beautiful woman who's as good with numbers as she is with people has the power to change everything. Except I still throw my socks on the floor. And here I am. Still. In 2009.

China still hasn't invaded, so I guess I'll stay on living here for the next little bit.

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