Jiuqutang has the personality of a near abandoned truck stop. It’s dark and dusty, but mostly dark. And devoid of people until they are suddenly there. They appear out of the gloomy dark and don’t seem as surprised as I am that I’m here, just outside the station, sitting on a low brick wall, eating an orange and then another. It’s not as bad a personality as the description would suggest. It’s maybe three pages from a book about a desert war, setting the scene, making the mood, describing a place that most people don’t find themselves in very often. It’s today’s page from an English idiom calendar, my old stomping grounds: a favourite place where a person likes to go to often
The Taiwanese are masters of the blank face, sometimes but much less often now accompanied with a stare. It was about a year ago at this time that I was meeting Donny up the road from the old pineapple factory. I get there early of course, because I am so rarely late and frankly I had nothing else to do, nothing on my schedule at all. No tasks, no chores. No other appointments except this one, to meet for noodles tonight, arranged yesterday over facebook messenger. (I will likely meet with my hiking friends some early morning next week, but that will be arranged later, a day maybe two beforehand, arranged over Line, an app that everyone uses here.)
I’ve been luxuriating in obscurity, living the life of a suddenly future me, riding the trains, swimming the lanes, walking along the harbour at sunset alone with my thoughts, alone all of the time, which is fine with me. It is so uncomplicated when you just drift with the tide, bob in the surf and wash up on a distant shore.
I was here once before as luck would have it, but that was more than thirty years ago, after never being here before.