Return to Taipei | Thoughts on Transience and Learning to Be

When we travel, we enter into a different dimension—one that peels back the layers veiling our eyes—those layers that tell us our worlds are the only worlds. We bring ourselves—all of our hopes and dreams, disappointments and sorrows—all of our humaneness into a new world. And when we do, we find that though the world is the same, it is we who have changed.

To sit in the same spot that you did over five years ago, and know the place to have remained the same, yet know yourself to be so changed. As the city passes you by, your mind travels back and churns through memories that that particular spot holds: forgotten feelings of a bygone era. Like a parallel universe where everything is the same, with the smallest things that are just a little bit off. Until I realize it’s just me. I am not the same. And in a single instance, the past versions of myself rush to meet the present: the first time I came to this place, just a toddler, only just beginning to see the larger world beyond the confines of my family home. Then the land saw me through my childhood at five-year intervals—grade school, middle school, high school..until the time I returned as an adult almost out of college, the first time to return on my own.

Can home be a place you’ve never lived? Can these old buildings and streets that have seen me through the years of my life—can they remember? Because I swear they breathe with the memories of lives more ancient than mine—lives carrying the souls of the people that have come before, leading down through the years, through the generations, until there is just me. My little self, wandering the same streets, breathing the same air, remembering but not really, while old, forgotten lives rush in to take my place and whisper through my bones.