I never really have much enthusiasm for big cities, but I do admire the way people create something out of thin air that attracts visitors to reinvest. Taipei is modern, greener than I had expected, with efficient cycling option and cost of living nearly triple mine. Right at the heart of it, I was spending my 5 days, meeting similar people of interest, dining at fancy restaurants, staying the night in a not less humble hotel, but still feeling a bit out of place.
There were public officers from some European countries whose intelligence and experience way exceed mine. One of them was Erik, the nerdy character you would find in your teenage years, who dresses differently, not in trend, and voices their unconventional trains of thoughts often. He was kind-hearted in nature and also very sweet, with broad cultural knowledge. Upon facing the fakeness and typical bro-culture dominance of the other two boys (who made fun of Erik all along the way in discreet, mocked Asian courtesy, and took pride in the fact that the white received much more attentions from ladies), I was drawn closer to him, as a friend, an ally, an outcast, although the boys didn’t target me. High school does last long.
During work, I guess I was a bit more actively vocal. Being aware of the difference in attitude I might have received thanks to being a non-white, I tried my best to engage and fulfill my position, to represent and mostly, to learn, to bridge new connections. What I was yearning to illustrate was that probably, another kind of our people could exist and was still be able to carry out tasks well. That kind didn’t have to be cunning, to lead a double life, surrounded by flashy parties and well-designed suits. That kind could be a bit more personal, more humane, with a bit of harmless sarcasm and authenticity. That’s why I inserted the story of my friend Q in the speech that I had to make.
Speaking of Q, who is now living and married to a Taiwanese, we met. The first reaction was a bit short of my expectation. She just let me wait inside her now-husband’s car while chatting with a guest outside while I was the one who was about to hit the airport, no apology, just merely her to-go attitude. In our elementary school, she was always cast as for bitchy role in drama (I usually got the weird and wise one). I guess she had been playing that part ever since and was longing to see more of the side that sat behind my ride and fixed my bag when one strap came off, the side that constantly asked me about my affairs with the wedding girl AM.
I didn’t agree to give her the favor she asked me for, which she waited until an unexpected moment to declare without any prior notice despite having prepared for it. The typical her refused to listen to my logic, which pushed my button even more. I hated her for a while, until I woke up from a quick nap to the airport inside their car, only to find that they were arguing about me, with her defending my side of the story and the Taiwanese man was trying to accuse me of lying and not showing support to help out. I never liked that guy, no matter how many nice words were used to describe him. When she was struggling, she still devoted her finance and effort just to try to move closer to him. He stole a part of my past from me.
Upon saying goodbye, I told her to keep on playing the bitchy role, and never let him take the upper hand.
Florian was nice, asking about my about. I told him the fancy room was big enough to occupy 4 of me. It wasn’t a problem really, having nice accommodation that you didn’t have to pay for. But it did make the empty space feel a bit bigger.
The only way I knew how to fill that space was sex. There was this strange French men who was a bit… wrinkly and really strange, somehow creepy, which was why I refused to fuck him. He told me I was the 4th man he met in this hotel after finishing sucking my cock. There was also this cute pilot from Turkey who came over one night from downstairs, giving great head while I was sitting on the sofa with the window open, looking down at the brightly-lit streets of Taipei. He demonstrated marvelous riding skill as well as he was the first one I fucked in a while, after the condom incident. Afterwards, he just lay in bed with me in the dark, saying he had always knew my kind of men was hung. I told him it wasn’t necessarily true.
I texted Damian, saying how it would have been much nicer if he was here, considering Shanghai isn’t that far away. He did try to arrange tickets and visa way before that but it didn’t work.
As I was leaving Taipei, that La La Land song, City of Stars, was being played on the radio. I remember the moment when the movie finished, I just couldn’t stop weeping inside the hoodie covering my head. That hoodie was a gift from my sister who is now far away and a bit bigger for my size, and that was also when things with Joe didn’t end up well. Matt was patting me on the back, saying non-stop “it was okay, it was okay…”
The part of Taipei I was allowed to stay in was really a city of stars for me, literally, with all of the beautifully placed lights and mascots. But from the first moment to last, it was never meant for me. The stars didn’t shine for me.