Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Leaving California (Again) - Taiwan, Here we Come!

I wasn't going to write this for another couple days, but I was packing a box a few minutes ago and I somehow threw out my back, and all I can really do at the moment is sit still in a straight-backed chair with a heating pad. So I decided I might as well take care of one of the few things I can actually accomplish from a chair and write this blog post.

It's hard to believe how fast the summer has flown by! We've been here in California almost eight weeks already, and now Floyd and I are getting ready to fly back to Taiwan this Wednesday. It's been a whirlwind of visiting friends and spending time with family, and we really enjoyed the chance to see so many people we don't often get to.

Here are a few of our top highlights from this summer, in no particular order:

1. eating a year's worth of Supreme Moose Tracks ice cream
2. celebrating Thanksgiving four months early with Floyd's family
3. attending the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Long Beach (a Chinese holiday which we've never yet celebrated in Taiwan because it falls right at the time we're getting ready to leave for the States at the beginning of summer)
4. reconnecting with extended family at a pool party at my cousin's William's house (which was lots of fun until William bumped his forehead against the pool step underwater and had to go to the emergency room for 30 stitches)
5. worshiping at our own home church, Grace Baptist, in person again (we listen to the sermons by podcast from Taiwan)
6. scrapbooking with my sister and sister-in-law
7. going to two different tea parties with my grandma and other friends and family
enjoying a church concert at Granada Hills Baptist, the school where I taught for three years, and seeing former co-workers and students' families there
8. being with my old college roommate and her husband (coincidentally) on the day they adopted their baby son
9. dining at American restaurants like Souplantation and Mimis
10. watching Toy Story 3 in 3-D with friends at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood
11. attending a former student's junior high graduation
12. watching another former student play piano in concert
12. celebrating Floyd's grandma's birthday with a large group of extended family in Acton

Now, all too soon, we're preparing to leave our families and many of our friends and return to Taiwan - back to our other life, our other friends, the other place where we belong. It's been a wonderful summer and I'm not sure I'm quite ready to say goodbye, but the other side of the world is calling, and we're eager to answer.

We'll (probably) be returning to temperatures in the triple digits and humidity in the 90s, where two minutes outside leaves the sweat dripping off you and your clothes sticking to your skin, so that a cool room holds all the appeal of the promised land and you're filled with the desire to break into the Hallelujah Chorus when you walk back into air conditioning. We'll be returning to mosquitoes and mangoes and milk teas, to the open-air market and singing trash trucks and possible typhoons. We'll be returning to our apartment on the first floor of Morrison's on-campus housing; to an empty school eager for the sounds of young voices soon to fill its classrooms once more; to friends and co-workers we've missed, who are ready to share about the summers they've spent in a handful of different home countries. We'll be returning to night markets where we can buy sweet red bean pastries, stewed eel, sizzling T-bone steak served with a fried egg sunny-side-up, papaya smoothies, squid balls, and candied strawberries on a stick. We'll be returning to the smells of ripe durian and stinky tofu and the world's best Chinese food being stir-fried in little hole-in-the-wall restaurants by the side of the road. We'll be returning home.

Our flight leaves on Wednesday night (well, Thursday morning, actually), just after midnight. We'll be in the air about fourteen hours, and we'll skip a day because we're crossing the International Date Line. What with that and the time difference, we'll land in Taipei at around 6:00 on Friday morning. From there it's a 2-hour bus ride to Taichung, where we live, and then a 10-minute taxi ride from the bus station to our apartment. Teacher Prep Week starts the next Monday (a week from today), and school starts the Monday after that. So, that's our time frame.

Some of you may remember that last fall we moved into a new apartment that had just been built for Morrison Academy's staff. We'll be returning to the same place this year; all our things are still there, so it will be nice not to have to actually move when we return. The apartment is right on campus, so it's very convenient. (It takes me exactly two minutes to get from my front door to my classroom door.)

One thing that we anticipate finding in our apartment is millipedes. Lots of them, probably: tiny critters about an inch long. We had quite an infestation of them last year. Apparently their eggs were in the sod that was brought in for the lawns, and since we live on the first floor, they somehow found their way into our home. We never actually saw any entering through doors or windows, but somehow they just kept appearing on our floors. There weren't as many when the weather got colder, but then as summer approached they started to appear in great numbers once again. For awhile we were killing about 30 of them every day. The school sprayed the grass for them several times, but they always came back.

So now that we've been gone all summer, the question is: will the millipedes have taken over the house, or are they gone now? Just for fun, someone suggested that we take a poll and have people guess. So here's how it works: if you want to participate, email me with your prediction as to how many millipedes (both dead and alive) we will find in our apartment on the first day we're back. We'll count them as we deal with them, and then I'll try to announce the correct answer within a couple of days. And we'll mail a small prize to whoever guesses closest!

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