The stewardess had banged the metal cart into my knee.
“Ohhh! I'm sorry,” she frowned. “Is there something I can do to make it better?”
“No. I'm dying.”
It was a small plane and my expletive was unreasonably loud. Ten people were looking at us while my buddy laughed.
“Mate you have to get her number.”
The Kiwi was right. The rest of the flight she met my eyes with a smile. I waited until we were disembarking to ask her. The other passengers passed us by as she wrote down her name and number. It turns out that she lives 10 minutes away from me, and is the same age. An old Chinese man at the bus asked, “Was it successful?” and high-5'd me when I shyly replied, “Yes.”
After a month of anticipation, I was reunited with The Girl I met last time. We went off to a BBQ party at a villa in the country side of Yilan. The first thing we did was walk along a black sand beach, holding hands and stomping around. Everything was beautiful. She only knew one person at the party, and I only knew her, but everyone was friendly enough. The barbecue was amazing. Pork, beef, oysters, spicy chicken wings, mushrooms, it went on all night. No expense was spared- They even bought two bottles of 96% Polish vodka, not just for laughs.
The next day we drove through densely wooded mountains before arriving at a beach and a fishing village. I was shocked that a village large enough for its own police station could exist so deep in the mountains.
When we got back to Taipei, she put some music on and kissed me. I wish I could have stopped time.
After we were done, I gave her my most sentimental possession. A rare prize I had brought with me from my small college town. After 8 months, I finally found someone I wanted to give it to. She loved it.
That night I went to BABE18 to meet up with my friends from that I hadn't seen in a long time. The tremendous line was full of locals and foreigners alike dressed for a night out, and here I am with dirty sneakers and a 32oz backpack. I said hi to Ada and she let me cut the line. After some fun conversation with a cute Indian girl, we proceeded to the dance floor and played with some lovely ladies from Hong Kong. I definitely got my exercise in that night. As an added bonus, I got my revenge on a Sausageman. She rolled an 8 and I rolled a 9. I walked away with a delicious skewer of grilled fish cake.
It was supposed to rain the entire trip, but the perfect weather just kept coming. I went to Tamsui and got an excellent therapeutic massage that put me to sleep. I sampled a pork bun and chilled out by the river. After that, I hiked around Beitou for hours and chilled out at a public hot spring. Beitou was a mostly vertical neighborhood with palm trees, hot springs, and a national park at the top of the mountain.
I spent my last night with my college buddy and his friends, eating at “ the 24 hour place”, our favorite, and drinking and playing pool with his buddies. The Frenchman swindled this girl into bringing her friend and meeting us in the pool hall. They were both as funny as they were pretty, and they liked us enough to stay for hours.
Was that a good story? Would you like to hear another one? How about this:
I had been looking forward to being with her again more than anything. Since the last time I kissed her, we kept in contact every day, and she wanted me as much as I wanted her.
Our plane was delayed, and I kept her waiting for almost an hour.
I apologized. She walked us back to the subway. We needed to catch a bus to Yilan, where her friends had been since the morning. The bus ride was an hour long, and then we were driven another thirty minutes to get to a beach. I wanted her so much, but kissing in public is unseemly in Taiwan. It was hot and the bus ride was cold.
I thought we would have our own rooms in the villa, but that was far from the case. There were 26 people and most rooms would be shared by four. I didn't care about all these drunk people, I just wanted some time with her. At the end of the night, as I was getting ready to spoon with her, a guy walked into our room and asked if he could sleep here since everywhere else was taken. She got offered her spot and went to the other mattress with the girls. Didn't even hesitate. I was speechless.
I went to sleep half wanting to kill this guy, half questioning her attraction to me.
I woke up hours to the snores of my mattress buddy hours before she did. The party decided to drive to a remote fishing village on the mountainside. We drove for hours, stopping along the way for people to vomit. Finally we got to a beach, and stood around for a few minutes. She mostly stayed in the car. The fishing village was even less exciting. Every second we drove hurt me double because I knew it was another second we'd have to spend to drive back. She said her stomach didn't feel well. She was starting soon. I held her hand.
We were dropped off at a nearby town and took the slowest train in the world back to Taipei. After two hours, I couldn't take it anymore, and insisted that we get off and take a taxi. She didn't object. Half of my time in Taiwan had now expired. I wanted to scream. And then it got worse.
She told me that something with her project had come up and she had to go to school tomorrow. She needed to wake up at 6AM tomorrow, and would be busy until 6PM. I would have to find other accommodations tonight. I felt like I'd been shot in the liver. I had paid double for plane tickets to come spend just three days in Taiwan, and nothing had gone the way I thought it would.
The sun was going down by the time we got to her room. I made love to her not in the way I wanted to, but with urgency and the knowledge that my time with her had been stolen from me.
I didn't want to go clubbing that night. I just wanted to stay in and be together with her and nothing else. I wanted that for three days and instead I got less than an hour. I got drunk that night, maybe not drunk enough. My friends who offered to sneak me into their hostel left without me. At 4AM I found a hotel, but they were booked full. So I just kept walking.
Five subway stops later, I made a detour at my favorite restaurant and got something to eat. I don't remember what I ate, or if I even tasted it at all. Dan told me not to come to his place because his mom was still there. I went anyway, because I had been walking in the cold for hours with my backpack, and I knew the room where She and I slept the first time we met would be empty. I social engineered the security guard, and even got past the guard dog, but the fucking door was locked.
I went back to the streets and kept walking until I made it to my buddy's hotel. I called him and asked if he had a girl, and he said no, come up. When he opened the door, the story changed. He did have a girl, but he hadn't shagged her and didn't plan on it, so give him 5 minutes. When he opened the door, the story changed. It's not going to work, he said.
I left and found a playground where a homeless man had claimed the slide. There was some space beneath the jungle gym. I shivered the whole night through.
My buddy picked up every hour I called him, but he never gave me a straight answer. Eventually, I gave up and left for Tamsui by myself.
My friend called and told me she and some others wanted to come hang out. I waited for them. And waited. What should have taken an hour took them three. I knew they would let me down. I said Fuck this shit and I left.
I went to Beitou and walked around looking for anything to do. I sat down at a busy food stand and asked for anything with meat. They gave me noodles with a brown soy product and radishes. “Sorry we misunderstood my Chinese,” they said. I left to walk around aimlessly. After a few hours I found the public hot springs and took a break. The Geothermic Valley and Plum Garden weren't open on Mondays, so I just went back to the subway station. I passed by a newlywed couple along the way.
Everything I did was just to kill time until I could see Her. I had the option to meet her at 5:30and accompany her to talk with her professor (??). Dan didn't get off work until 6, and I had to see him at least for a little bit. He was such a good host to me last time, I couldn't just ditch him. Anyway, I knew I wouldn't be getting any alone time with her- the plan was to join her friends at a KTV at 7 and stay for four hours. I can't sing in Chinese, let alone for four hours, so I told her I'd meet her later.
Later never came. I checked my phone every five minutes for it, but it never did. I sat quietly in the pool hall while my friends smoked furiously. I was too distraught to entertain anyone. I just wanted to sleep. At midnight I got a message from her friend.
“Hey, she's really drunk and her phone lost power so she's sleeping at my place. I just thought you should know that she's ok.”
“Don't complain,” I told myself. I wrote it down in my phone even. Don't complain, it'll only make things worse. Just pretend it doesn't bother you. It doesn't bother you that instead of seeing you at all on your last day, she got drunk with her friends. Don't complain.
I got an apology text from her the next day as I was about to lose reception in the airport. I didn't complain. I fucking whined.
“Yeah. I just wanted more time with you. Guess it wasn't meant to be.”
Now tell me, which story did you enjoy reading more? Because I sure as fuck know which one I enjoyed writing more.
The experience of writing down my memories of this trip taught me something important.
You make your own happiness.
It's true that I didn't get what I expected. But what will sulking about it do? It would only multiply my discontent. I don't want to be that person. You can choose to remember the good and move on.
There was a person in my group of friends in Taiwan that didn't go through any of what I went through. Someone had done her entire itinerary for her. She had a group of friends to share the fun. She could have experienced a rich culture with kind, fun-loving people, but she chose not to. Instead, she scowled and grinched to the point where everyone was dreading her appearance.
I've only met one other person in Busan who had such a negative affect about life. I let that person poison me. I wasted countless thought-hours of energy thinking about what an arrogant, unhappy person she is and how viciously toxic her presence was. Thought-hours that I could have used to write poetry or masturbate to historical fan-fiction instead went to thinking about how this person could be so broken in so many ways. If you look back at some of my writing you can see how much my loathing shows through.
The person that came to Taiwan is different. She has never had a personal connection to me. In fact, she has actively gone out of her way to avoid even just eye contact with me, even in Taiwan when I walked right by her at the club. I could have saved her an hour of standing in line if she'd just said “Sup, nigger?” but instead she pretended I didn't exist. Instead of making the same mistake I did before, I will use her to make myself a better person. She is a reminder to me that when you complain and whine and choose to brood over the bad rather than live out the good, you bring everyone down. Eventually, you repel everyone but the people who have settled into the familiar comfort of negativity. And basically, you become a black void of pestilence that nobody happy wants to be around.
That's one take away of the story.
The other is for my friend:
Every time you read this, remember to not be so hard on yourself. How things will affect you are your choice. Let the bad things remind you that you have a choice in how you feel. You've read Marcus Aurelius, you've read Seneca. You should know by now, that this too shall pass.
In the end, the sum of your discontent is a result of ingratitude: Think about all the things you did:
You walked along a black sand beach for the first time. You gifted your most sentimental possession to someone you care about, and against the odds, she loved it. You ate loads of great food, got an excellent massage, and let's be honest, you really weren't that pissed about being homeless, it was kind of fun.