Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Letters from Taipei

I kept a short diary in Taipei from December 25th, 2013, to January 6th 2014. I had no purpose for writing, other than to chronicle my observations, thoughts, and feelings from each day. Taipei in a city of nostalgia from an untraceable source, inextricably tied to its mood, which changes every moment.

December 25th, 2013 Taipei midnight

Flew into Taipei on a rainy winter night. It was film noir weather. The rain crackled and sizzled. Here in this city, the rain doesn’t fall straight down from the sky, striking the ground like tiny arrows. It explodes in the air, flies around from all directions, lingers statically like mist. When you walk outside you are instantly wet, though you might not realize how that came to be. It’s the kind of rain that forms clouds around pockets of light, like tiny glowing bulbs in the night sky.
We arrived in Xindian just after 9:00 pm. The streets were alive with people eating seafood from rickety benches,  a clear plastic sheet enclosing the restaurant from the elements. Skyscrapers, illuminated, shot up in the horizon, marble geometric structures breaking the backdrop of the night sky.  And beside them, in that ever so sweet Taipei image of juxtapositions, were shanty condos with rotting iron bars on the windows.
We live up on the fourth floor of one of these charming structures. The iron bars made a pattern fashionable in the 1970s, but dated in the 2010s. I climbed the steps with excitement, a heart exploding with joy. How could I not love it here.
Taipei is dirty, gritty, raw. It’s the grainy details in an old film. It’s that foggy memory that conjures up excitement with no real image.
Even with the glass paned doors closed, I can hear the sharp sound of the rain striking the tin roofs. Like the jingling of keys. Loud enough to make you feel un-alone.  It doesn’t have a pattern, the rain, so that each time it hits the roof it has a different chord. A new melody is composed. 

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