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, as the weather.
January 1st, 2014
First entry of the new year.
We found a street cart selling stinky tofu in Gongguan. We ate from backless chairs made of plastic. Our seats were turned towards the counter, as hundreds of mopeds sped down the road to our backs, only inches away from use. We ate from a plastic plate with wrapped in a plastic bag. The mopeds roared to our backs. Any closer and they might hit us.
That’s how close we are to the racing, speeding, pumping pulse of this city.
It’s not a far of cry I the distance.
It’s not faint murmur in your sleep.
It’s an engine racing at your back.
Back up the concrete steps to the fourth floor apartment, when you look out of the wire balcony, you can see into every neighbors house. Some are cooking, others sitting on the floor watching TV, children running across the carpet. Behind every red-painted door, behind every rod-iron balcony, the full range of human emotions is being lived. We forget that when we stare at static buildings. Their unchanging, unfeeling structures makes the living breathing life within. We forget that behind ever window a full life is being lived. When I sit on the balcony I can feel romances and tragedies on every floor. Without knowing them, I can feel them. Seeing into my neighbors windows, seeing their mundane routines and their crass decorations, make me more aware of the explosion life behind the stone walls.
Whole books could be written about the life on this one street in the this one city in the world. This simple view from the balcony of a middle-class apartment in Taipei humble a writer like me. What can I possibly produce that could even come close to the rendering of human life in a forgotten pocket of Taipei…
So close to humanity, you can see it right through its windows.