(The following is an excerpt from a longer work.)
“It’s so nice to see you again, sweetie.”, she told me. Her face was more like, ‘Where have you been all this time?’ But I always took it as her worrying too much about me. Hey, at least she cared about me, right?
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here.”, I said, yawning so loud the neighbours dog probably ran off. “You still okay with dad?”
If it isn’t already obvious to everybody in the neighbourhood, my mom and my dad go through many different phases of being together and then not. It’s one of the reasons why I’m just called Yannathan. Not anything else. Just Yannathan (it’s also just so much cooler sounding to have one name only!). People all come and ask me why they haven’t gotten a divorce. They mention that it’s quite normal for Aboriginal people to be in turbulent households, but I always tell them that they’re fine. I have hope they’ll find a way to always be with each other even if they part for a while.
“Oh, yeah, w-he’s fine, sweetie. No need to worry about him.”, she said. She wasn’t looking at me when she said though. She was too busy staring at my other, less damaged arm. “I’m happy to see you still have it.”, she said, a huge smile on her face.
“Well, it’s a part of my style now. So, how could I not?”, I told her, looking at the bracelet. It was a gift from her for my birthday that felt like ages ago.
Now, normally, I’m not the sentimental type. I either destroy or lose all my gifts and things over the years. But, like I said from before, it really suits me. So, why not keep it around? Plus, it gets me street cred with the underground Aussie rock stars I know (that’s a long story).
“Well, I’m glad you like it so much!”, she said as she got up. That was my cue. As I got up, she called from the stove, “Yannathan, do you want something to drink? Some Coke, maybe?”
“No, mom. I’m good. I’ll actually be going now.”, I called back before I got my bag and rushed to the door.
“Why are you going so soon?”, she asked as she came back into the living room (it wasn’t that far; the house is small anyway).
“Mom, I have things to do.”
“But you just got here, sweetie.”
“I know. But I have an idea and a world to explore. Things to do. This place isn’t half the world, mom.”, I told her, looking at her before I opened the front door and left.
“Do you need anything?”, she shouted from behind me. “Yannathan, where are you even going?”
I could barely hear her, the passion burning in my blood and the idea (it was so big in my head) dancing and spinning around in my brain.
A few hours (I think) later
Scrolling through my phone was a lot harder in the hostel. Probably because I barely had enough coverage to do much with. That’s what happens when I rush to go somewhere. But it was fun. The need to get to the hostel was overpowering every other need in my body. Which left me very tired. Which knocked me out cold when I got into my room.
And now we’re all here. I bet you’re all super confused right now. That’s okay. Things will make sense soon. I promise.
I decided to leave the room to get some air. Unfortunately, the guy outside my room was smoking a cigarette. So, I could barely breathe the air in the hall. As I left for the lobby, I just hoped the guy knew he should change himself around. The smoke could harm a lot of good people. All of them can if they try hard enough. I know it’s definitely possible.
I went down past the dorm rooms and got into the lobby to have a mini ‘epiphany’, I guess you could say. I saw a whiteboard with details for the hostel’s wi-fi. Of course, I just had to forget that part of the hostel, but still be able to remember the service providers in Kaohsiung. My brain works in the weirdest ways sometimes. Even I don’t know where half my thoughts come from some days.
I sat near one of the tables near the reception desk and looked through Google for any cool places to visit. Normally, I’d do that in the plane, but I had to rush to the airport to find a flight. I always book them last minute and have to wait for a while before I can get one to where I wanna go. It always sucks the soul out of me, but it keeps things fun.
I also was too busy learning Mandarin in the plane. Not that I’m suddenly great at the language all of a sudden. I was just so interested in coming here that my hunger to learn consumed me. Like how I consumed the airplane food faster than it takes me to get dressed (hint: I get dressed in about 10 minutes.).
After a few travel vlogs and websites, I found this really cool place near the hostel. It was an old pier that was remade into an art center by a couple of local artists after the pier was disused. It sounded like a great place to chill for today. Then, tomorrow I could go on my actual quest. The whole inspiration behind coming to Taiwan.
I tried to get a taxi but they were either unaffordable (I used a lot of my money that I had left for the plane and the train to the airport) or occupied (and there were a LOT of taxis at that point of time). So, I decided to walk to the art center, even though it was almost an hour away from the hostel. Honestly, long walks never bothered me. You could make me walk in a direction and I wouldn’t even know where I went until someone told me I was way off from my start point. It would have never occurred for me to stop.
And that’s exactly what I did. Walked all the way past busy streets and rushing cars to the pier. It was definitely abandoned a long time ago. Now, tourists were flocking around the many art pieces around the pier. It seemed to really be picking up with the locals.
I bought a bottle of water from a nearby store before I continued walking past the abandoned warehouses. I can definitely tell you this; if you need some inspiration or some good vibes, Pier 2 was the place. You could feel the creative expression oozing from the walls of the shipping crates and the statues around them.
I also felt that this was truly sign of change. Of interests shifting. You could see Taiwan, Kaohsiung in particular, was moving away from the cold, robotic industrial phase of its economy and into a more service-based, creative direction. It felt like a real breath of fresh air. And that was probably the freshest breath of air I’d probably had the whole morning. (given the cigarette smoke, I’d say that’s a vast improvement haha)
I was going past a few pieces of art when I noticed there were murals on the walls of the shipping crates. Even more art to admire! I found one that was a futuristic view of a train station at this very art center. It looked like someone was envisioning the future of Taiwan and it’s mix of old culture and new and advancing technology. It felt like a very original design which was brought about to inspire hope.
Which was another thing I really liked about this place. There was this sense of originality I couldn’t put into words then and still can’t now. I’ve seen things like these in Australia, but this was definitely different. People always talk about how there’s nothing original left in this world. But I think these pieces show that originality is just another opinion. Anything can be original because of its endless meaning. I think that whatever we create definitely has the potential to already be thought of by people. We just have to use different elements in different ways to bring about new meaning. Originality.
Plus, there’s no way somebody interprets the meaning of something in the same way as another person completely. Hence, there’s this sort of new meaning or originality that comes with it. For those who’ve seen it in other works, they may not think it’s original. But, for those who haven’t, it’s a whole new thing.
Maybe I’m just being weird and this has nothing to do with originality. Like I said, my brain works in ways even God would be confused at.
By Ackash Kumar