It’s been awhile since J and I traveled to Asia together: I visited the fam two years ago, and J was last there four years ago. Since 2009, I’d actually made a concerted effort to go back every year, but my last trip in 2012 was so damn annoying that I decided to take a break. This time around, I was feeling my usual dread about my upcoming “vacation.” I guess old habits die hard. Then, on the day of our departure, J and I had a talk about living with more positivity. So, we decided to make this trip an experiment and to be mindful about our negativity.
Eleven days later, I’m happy to report that having a better attitude changes many things. Overall, the trip went well. No arguments, no drama. Still exhausting as hell shuttling around from place to place, but the trip was pretty much as optimized as it could be. Taiwan has a great public transportation system, with the high-speed rail running almost the entire length of the island and metro systems in its two largest cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung. Transportation by car though, is a challenge. People drive super slow: the speed limit is only about 60 mph (compared to how J and I zip around way ABOVE the speed limit in Cali). And traffic is pretty bad, so even if distances aren’t far, shit takes forever. I won’t bore you with the play-by-plays, but we pretty much stayed at a different place every night, and each day, we spent at 3-5 hrs. in transit. The good news? My family is doing well. We had a good time hanging out with my parents, seeing their new house in Kaohsiung, visiting my relatives, and stuffing our faces along the way. I got my hair highlighted at a little shop in dad’s hometown. The hair appointments in Asia ALWAYS take double the quoted time. Haha. I was getting antsy sitting in that chair, burning up under the plastic sheet. The color and cut came out fine. Nothing superb, but good enough. Either way, it’s nice to wash my hair and not have the dye still come out like when I color at home. At the end of the week, my fav cousin drove us around to little food stalls and area landmarks. Three of my cousins also recently moved to new homes, so we did a lot of property visits, which I always enjoy. It’s like being on an HGTV show or something. Haha. :) Nah honestly, it was great to see the standards of living going up from generation to generation. One of my cousins has two little boys, both under 3 and her place is so crazy ass immaculate. By the looks of it, I couldn’t even tell that people lived there! No knick knacks whatsoever on the surfaces and lots of cabinets for storage! Even all the kids toys were stuffed away in the kitchen cabinets. I want to get more organized.
My parents are doing ok. I am, however, noticing some things are starting to slip with my dad. He got our arrival date mixed up, so when we arrived in TPE airport, he thought we were due to arrive the next day. There were a few other things too, but I could also see that he’s just juggling too much right now. That shit happens to me also. When I’m managing too much, shit falls through the cracks (e.g. Verizon charges). And J and I were so exhausted shuttling all across the island… I can’t imagine how tiring it is for people in their late 60s and early 70s. My dad seriously needs to slow the fuck down.
Other news: We didn’t really interact much with my brother. Just a few minutes of conversation here and there. He didn’t travel with us at all when we went south, and on our last day in Taipei, he did his own thing. Just as well. This was the first time EVER that my parents said absolutely NOTHING about me giving him advice or trying to reconnect with him. Thank goodness. I think they are finally starting to see: there’s no point in arguing over someone who just doesn’t want to change.
A part of me does feel sad though about the deterioration of that relationship. Yet at the same time, I feel it’s something that just cannot be repaired. And for all parties involved, it’s just most civil to let things be. He tries to converse and engage, but the best I can do is maintain a civility and distance. There’s just too much pain and history. I don’t think he is malicious, but how does a selfish person become more giving and generous? It just doesn’t happen. My mother goes with him to some of the religious activities. I think she gets something out of it, so good for her. Her relationship with my dad is well, like most old married couples, I suppose. They are both just so damn naggy with one another. J joked that this trip really helped him understand some of my proclivities: the constant urgency and hustle from my father; the backseat driving style from my mother; the obsession with discounts (my dad is so thrilled to get half-off train/bus tickets for being a senior)… I try to learn what I can from watching my parents’ relationship. They love each other, but shit, they spend way too much time together. And, as I’ve observed before, I really hate how my mother is unable to do anything on her own… she’s so clearly codependent and over-reliant on my dad. Ah well, a different time, a different place, and different people. But when I see them, I definitely make mental notes and start immediate course corrections to nip that shit in the bud. To my credit, J says my nagging has definitely cut down A LOT. I give props to my therapist from two years ago for that. She really made me see how some of my standards were just arbitrary and yet super damaging to our relationship. Live and learn, baby!
On that happy note, here are pics from Taiwan. Until the plugin ups their max number of pics, here’s a link to the full set on Flickr.