Some things just aren’t meant to be, like a taco fair in Taipei. My hopes were not high, after living in Mexico for a year, but it still failed me. As I walked around behind the Taipei Artist’s Village, I saw a herd of people and bags of generic American tortillas and “restaurant style” chips. I knuckled down and entered the fray, trying to find some order to the random lines of people. There was little hope. The food looked like the Tex-Mex I grew up on, and all I saw ahead of me was enough people to make the place into a deathtrap if there was a fire. At least that part was authentic. It’s not real Mexican if there is no fear for your safety.
I bailed quickly, mostly because nothing looked like something I wanted to eat. The oppressive heat of the bodies combined with the buildings blocking any airflow didn’t help. I wandered off to find some street food and make a run through the Ikea. It was after kung fu, so I was tired, but apparently not as tired as I thought.
The thing that struck me was the people napping on the couches in the store. I expected it to be busy on a Saturday, but I wonder how long the people had been there that sleeping was the preferred course of action. Then again, I was there for the better part of an hour and all I bought was a chair. If I had to wait for someone who was furnishing an apartment, I might have taken it further and stretched out in the bedding section.
The differences here are interesting, sometimes surprising, and occasionally disappointing. I haven’t found any real lemons yet, and the lemon juice concentrate tastes a bit like gatorade. I still love that I can randomly find a guy selling strawberries in the street, and they are awesome. A bit of chaos, a bit of order. I still have trouble accepting how safe it is though.
In some ways I can forget I’m halfway around the world from home. Streets are still just streets, people still live their busy lives, and I have found enough places that I don’t have to worry about getting around the city. Sometimes I forget too much, and start seeing this place as home, not that I’m making a home here, but that I forget I’m not in the States. It doesn’t feel so much like adapting to the world around me as it does that my mind is trying to forget the distance, lying to me about where I am in order to deal with what my life is.
I never appreciate lies, even when they come from my own brain. One of the best things about trying to be honest all the time is that I can usually notice when I’m lying to myself, whether it’s to prevent pain, to find hope, or simply to be lazy. I prefer the truth, but I wonder how much lies allow life to function as it does. I wonder if that’s a good thing.
Truth is a strange thing. It’s been nearly impossible for me to find, but I have found so many things that it’s not. I found so many people that can’t tell the difference, or cling to the lies because they are so much more comfortable. I don’t really know if they’re right or wrong, if it’s better to know when something is true.
Out here, I function well enough when I forget the distance, the time, and the cost of the life I’ve chosen. Is it really a lie to forget? Is truth something that we should be beaten with, keeping us from the comfort of the predictable? The truth is that nothing is predictable, life can go sideways at any moment. But is that really a truth that we should center our lives around?
The truth is that I am here, that I chose to be here, and I make that choice again every day. The power of a choice exists when we keep making it, until we forget that we are still making that choice. We let the choice control us, when it’s just the pain and fear of change. I wonder if I’ll ever completely lose that fear of change, or even if I should.