May 23, 2015 5 Comments
Wow. Can you believe it?
It’s been over three months, damn, almost four, since we arrived to Taiwan. It was all about festive celebrations when we first arrived due to Lunar New Year. That was way back in February. Lots happened since. I’ll spare additional details but I wrote a bit about it here, here and here.
Starting late March and for a little over a month, Jack’s parents came back to Taiwan and we were in the South and in the North zipping back and forth. It was a nice surprise to see them and spend time with them here again.
In the past few months Jack has searched and searched for a place to stay, but absolutely no luck. For a while there we thought we were in a lot of trouble. We thought about considering other parts of Taiwan other than the East Coast. But here was my thinking – we came all the way to Taiwan, jumped through so many hoops that we need to live where we know we will enjoy waking up knowing we are exactly where we want to be. Not a compromise. That’s living on the East Coast. We cannot back down. We had to find a place on the East Coast. But I was nervous. I was very anxious. Part of the anxiety came from not knowing what’s happening or not understanding. :-( How will we find a place to stay if there aren’t any to spare on the lower East Coast of Taiwan. I don’t want to drag on staying with family although they have been more than accommodating. What the heck are we going to do? There has to be a way! It’s been stressful. We fought a lot. Emma heard us argue a lot. So the last few months have been a bit hectic without a place to call our own, bouncing around Taiwan with our 12 year-old homeschooled kid in tow.
Miracles do happen in most unexpected ways.
A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.
During one of the gatherings with Jack’s parents’ friends (the gatherings are usually always very fancy), while we were in Taichung enjoying sushi and hot springs in a fancy hotel I probably cannot pronounce and/or afford, Jack put out an alert that we were in dire need of housing. preferably on the East Coast, of course.
Not too long after that trip, we found out that a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of Jack’s parents owns a house in a very small town. Population: 9000. And that hasn’t changed too much. If anything, the number got lowered. Where else? On the East Coast. And lucky for us her tenant was moving out right around the time we want to move in which would be after the in-laws leave. So the day they left, we took a train to meet our future landlady, check out the neighborhood and have a look at the house.
Remember the miracle I was referring to? This find IS truly a miracle. I’m still pinching myself.
It’s a small town. We got off the train and we had already decided to rent three bicycles. The bosslady of the bicycle shop accidentally slipped and asked (in Mandarin of course, Jack interpreted to me later) “Why do you want to live here?”
In searching for the house, we were told to turn right when we see the tomatoes! Tomatoes? Really? That’s how the directions came to us. When you see the rock and the tomatoes, turn! Yup. Okay! City people we are, or I am, I felt the need to have an address. What about the name of the street. Nothing. Just turn at the rock and the tomatoes. And there it was the rock and the tomato farm just as it was described.
So we arrived and my jaw dropped when I saw the size of the house (from the exterior) and the surroundings of the house. What’s surrounding the house? Rice fields. Yup. That’s all. Rice fields. Oh and mountains. And tomatoes.
We arrived. A petite elderly lady greeted us. I”m thinking 65. We’re all checking and sizing up each other. I had a lot of questions already floating in my head. She invited us in, and told us we did not have to take off our shoes.
WHAT? That’s totally against what I’ve been trained to do here in Taiwan during every visit. There are inside shoes. And there are outside shoes. You don’t mix the two. She said “Mae Guan Shee!”, so I, we all did, reluctantly walked in with our outside shoes on our feet. Eeek. It did not feel right to me.
She offered us water, not hot tea, surprisingly. Once we sat down, Jack did all the talking because well, I couldn’t! I smiled, a lot. Looked around amazed. In shock. Really? Are we this lucky?
Throughout the conversation, I learned from Jack about our future landlord. She’s 80. Lives alone, well not exactly, not all the time. Healthy as a horse, her words or Jack’s words. Exercises daily. Volunteers. Rides her electric motorbike and bicycle. Makes her own meals. Writes daily. Decisive and Independent. Those are the two striking characters I noticed about this small petite person. That very moment when I learned about this amazing mighty grandma, I looked at Emma, I looked around and it occurred to me that we’re brought to this place for a reason. We’re meant to learn from this human being having lived on this earth for 80 years. Still had a lot more questions but she really got to me.
I was in Awe of her. Similar to the awe I felt when I discovered Jack’s parents’ were making another trip to Taiwan and actually made it during the same time we’re here. Similar to the awe I feel when I look up the sky, when I see an amazing sunset which are easier to see, but when I witness a sunrise, that’s a whole other level of awe. I have a feeling I will be seeing many sunrises and sunsets here in Taiwan. Sorry I digressed.
She quickly gave us a tour of the house. Wow. What amazing views from the second floor where we will be residing. She’s very particular about cleanliness. I’m totally okay with that. What more can I ask. And it’s on the east coast. In awe again, feeling as though this is an absolute miracle.
Of course, there are certain important things Emma had on her list. Her own room with good lighting so she can make more LPS videos. Check. An oven. Check. Well an oven that could bake up to 250 degrees. Good enough for her.
We decided it was time to leave to go get some late lunch/early dinner and talk things over. She offered us to stay with her for the couple of days that we are there and we took up on the offer. Wow. Again. Free lodging for two nights. Even better.
So yes. We said, Yes! We want both rooms upstairs. We love it. We want to stay.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and theworld.” -John Milton
The next morning, we got up at 5am to watch the sunrise. I saw her walking out of the house making her way, yes at 5am, around the rice fields. By the time she’s back after finishing her morning walk, we were barely getting started. She encouraged us to take the 15km bicycle ride right away, before it got hotter. The morning air was cool and crisp. We saw the morning rays breaking through the clouds over the fields. (The last time I enjoyed the sunrise was when we arrived in Penang, Malaysia at the crack of dawn in September of 2014). I have a feeling that’s going to change. We will see sunrises – often!
It was a nice stay in the house. We felt comfortable. It felt like home. Before we left after our 2.5 days stay, I mopped the floors twice. All the common areas, kitchen, laundry room, second floor bedrooms. Cleaned the bathrooms we will be using because I want to make sure she understands that I understand cleanliness. She noticed. She noticed the kitchen. She was very appreciative.
We are back in the Southern city with our family. Waiting for the legal papers to be approved for Emma and me. Shopping for items we need like pillows, a coffee machine and a rice cooker. And of course, food we know we may not find in our new small town. Still looking for bicycles. At the moment we have our belongings in two different family homes (it’s a long long story but we do) and we will gather them all in one place, then ship them to our new home. I’m looking forward to the day when I can breathe a sigh of relief, when i can get on that train, and then finally arrive to our new home to receive everything we own in Asia which will be about 12 boxes (including food we bought!).
We’ve come a long way from the days of owning a whole 2300 sq ft home with a two car garage. I’m so proud of us.
I’m forever grateful to the universe, to Jack’s Parents, to the friend of the friend of the friend of the friend for this miracle to happen.
I admit, it feels scary because frankly, we’ve not lived in a town THIS small. I have my concerns, but one thing I know is that we have to give this life a try. We have to experience this slow, small town life. Life in this town will be slower than the life we had in Thailand. I want Emma to grow up knowing that we gave it a try. We gave it a chance. If it doesn’t work out we can easily go to a bigger city with bigger parks and bigger everything. But that’s what we’ve known. That’s what she knows. We have to push ourselves beyond the comfortable boundaries we’ve become accustomed to.
I’m excited. I have no idea what’s in store for us. I believe pleasant surprises await us. I do know that we’re going into this experience with open arms. Ready to learn. Ready to live. Ready to explore. Ready to notice. Ready to take action.
Ready for Taiwan. Finally. We have a home!
PS. I’m taking my own set of indoor shoes. For all three of us!
We Say YES to Attitude of Gratitude.
We Say NO to the Status Quo.
Live Small. Live Green.
Give Large. Take Little.
Take Notice. Take Action.