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Ying Ge, New Taipei City, Taiwan


Vanessa Hsia
Sep 5, 2017 · 4 min read

Out of all the spaces I have been lucky enough to call home, I’ve lived in California the longest. My mother is here. My friends are here. My life is here. But I have spent the most of this year elsewhere.

Because I have had the privilege of scrambling around the world as if it were an old library book on display, I wanted to talk about closure and how I find it at the end of each chapter.

It all began when I stopped identifying “home” as a place.

Defining home as a place stopped working for me because it stopped me from living consciously in the present. When I was in Paris, I missed California. When I was in California, I missed Taipei. When I was in Taipei, I missed Shanghai. A part of me was always missing when I would rather feel whole.

I needed home to be a feeling of safety, warmth, and comfort that follows me, whether I’m long-term dwelling or on a diasporic move.

So I decided the following —

Home is my body, my mind, and the collection of memories I carry with me where ever I go. Home is the sentimentality I feel when I hear mandarin spoken with a Taiwanese accent. The sound of the metro rushing past. The ding signaling a text from my mom. The way my keyboard clicks when I type. A warm cup of joe. Even the uncomfortable airplane seat that screeches when I lean back. Because this is all familiar and home is finding familiarity in new territories.

Closure came naturally and less painfully as I bid goodbye to each place when I realized I was always at home. The whole world is my home. Epiphany. Boom.

But then this idea was challenged last week.

I was in Xiamen, China last week and had originally planned to only be there for four days, but the typhoon decided otherwise and delayed my flight. I stayed an extra three days in Xiamen, which took away my last three days in Taipei I had set aside to say goodbye. I felt cheated of my time and precious closure. Fuck my epiphany, this sucked.

But the extra three days in Xiamen gave me a different type of closure I didn’t know I needed.

I got a lot closer to my little cousin who I love so much but have difficulty talking to because he is going through his awkward teenage phase. But being stuck together in the rainy weather with no access to social media brought out a side of him I haven’t seen since we were younger, back when would play boardgames together every day at our grandparents’ house. His smile was brighter these last three days.

I also got to spend more time with my dad, who I only get to see once every other year if I’m lucky. This was the first time I’ve visited him in Xiamen, seen where he lives and where he works. His cozy apartment is sprinkled with my old stuffed-animals, pillows, books and photos. Anything I’ve ever owned, loved, and discarded — he picked them all up and kept them, as if each of them held a little piece of me, a memory, a feeling of home for him. It was the first time I could feel how much he loved me, not just hear it or know it, but feel it.

This was my second lesson. Closure (and love) comes unexpectedly and could never be taken away from you. No typhoon or flight cancellation could take away the peace I felt when I finally left Xiamen and the peace I felt when I left Taipei. I got it anyway. The closure I longed for.

Like I mentioned in my last one-minute update, I’m happy. I really am.

I’ve been reflecting a lot.

I spent the last couple of weeks in Taipei trying to explain to my friend Patrick why I’m so — let’s be real — strange. Why I have a five-paragraph answer to every question he asks me. Why I thoroughly and constantly analyze my personality, my growth, and my mental health. Why I currently am not in the market for new friends, why Taiwan feels like a pause to me. Why I have so many opinions, why I’m so vocal about them, why I think I scare people.

He was kind enough to listen despite my blabbering, just as you are kind enough to read this despite my rambling.

I’m grateful for this summer, the people who love me, the chance to travel within Taiwan, all the irresponsible drinking and loitering, the friends that stuck despite my “not being in the market for new friends,” the rare chance to pause. All of it.

I’m back. I’m new. I’m ready.

I’m also in the market for new friends again.

So if you like to read, like to think, like to drink, and like to chat, hit me up :-)

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