Distance Is Measured By Breakfast

Approaching Taipei on August 10, 2010

My friends asked, “How far is Taiwan?  How many hours do you have to sit in the plane?” 

The apartment-hunting trip was a 24-hour flight, stopping over at the chaotic Chicago airport with awful signage, loud travelers, and unfriendly staff.

The relocation-trip was 21 hours, including 3 hours that were spent on trying to get through New York City alive.  Never again will we fly from JFK! I forgot how many times I swore before.

The truth is,  one forgets about the long flight, the 5th meal served on the plane, and the lines separating citizens and non-citizens at immigration counters. Distance is felt inside, cell by cell:

Salty duck eggs, congee, and pickled assortments

– Breakfast: For a gazillionth time I said I had enough of bagels, pancakes, and frozen waffles. Now I eat congee and salty duck eggs for breakfast. Distance is measured by Bisquick and maple syrup.

– Songs: The sentimentals so softly sung by a male in the taxi radio makes me feel foreign.  I typed in “pandora.com”. It does not serve Taiwan. I found Josh Groban. He does not sound right here.

– Books: We asked for bookstores and were introduced to a wonderful one, Eslite. Seeing an English copy of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid is like seeing our lawn at home. 

– Smells: The supermarket called Welcome has everything we can possibly think of and the staff are even friendlier than Weggies’. For 20 years I hated the smells of the cheese counter. Now it is the cheese rack in Welcome that reads home.

Fish heads in Welcome supermarket

Feeling distance is like feeling pain. It cannot be described.  It is personal.


5 thoughts on “Distance Is Measured By Breakfast

  1. Hah! After I read this I made congee for breakfast. OK, it was western style arborio rice, kosher salt and herring. But by eating it I felt like I was having breakfast with you. I spent my teenage years in NYC Chinatown eating congee at Wop Hop on Mott Street and I guess I still crave it

  2. Dear Xin,
    Lovely, lovely! You’ve got all the classic writing strengths down cold! You show, you don’t tell. Your sensory descriptions bring your experiences to life, Xin. I can’t wait to read more!
    It is amazing how former repugnant memories can take a 180 degree turn depending upon one’s surroundings. I refer to hating the smell of the cheese counter & now missing it! My first ever job was when I was in college. I was a custodian at a research facility on the Univ. of WI-Madison campus, & I had to walk through the Agric. campus. I remember loving the chance to smell cow manure because it reminded me of home. And this is from the girl who couldn’t wait to get off the farm, to skedaddle out of homogeneous Sheboygan, WI. It just goes to show that today’s misery very often becomes tomorrow’s nostalgia. Any difficult situation that your boys go through will become fodder for growth & fond memories in their futures.
    Looking forward to your next installment, Xin!
    Love & Peace,

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