Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Motherland, Day 10: A homecoming

Words cannot describe the beauty on the coast of my birth place, Hualien. As I type, it is 6 a.m. of Day 11, and the sun is beginning to rise. The ocean's tide, ever consistent, is calming. To my left, shadows of mountains are beginning to emerge. Below them, city lights twinkle. Several photographers are already positioned on the beach. We are all waiting for the sun to illuminate the clouds that rest upon the sea.

I am in awe. I wish to never leave. I cannot stop wondering what might have been.

A buoy flashes. Two walkers pass by. In the distance, trucks are waking up. The horizon begin to pink.

6:15: The ocean is gleaming. A rolling, shimmery skin. Waves roll in, cresting blue-green before crashing to the beach in a white foam. A black, wolfish-looking dog trots by.

What could have been, had I never left Hualien? Would I be working the graveyard shift at the Family Mart, selling vodka juice to American tourists on a Monday night? Would I be serving clam soup in a lonely seaside restaurant? Could I have attended Tung-Wa University just north of the city, a quiet haven with palm trees and mountain views? Could I have become a writer? A wife? A mother? Would I have escaped to Taipei, or ventured beyond Taiwan's shores?

A spry elder walks by, slightly bowlegged, but moving at a brisk pace. Could he be my Taiwanese grandfather?

6:30: The mountains stand proud, firm, unmoving, while the ocean rolls below. It shimmers green against the blue-black mountains; shines blue when contrasted with the lush green of the landscape. Another old man trudges by me with a bicycle. Perhaps he is my grandfather. Or great-uncle. Or really, just a stranger in this land as I am.

7 a.m. The top of the mountain is illuminated, hugged by a wispy cloud. The sun's rays beam through a break in the clouds to the east. Fishing boats make their way to their nets. A bulldozer drops a small boat on the sand - it looks like a raft with curved edges. Is it my imagination, or do the waves crest higher? Rolling, crashing, rolling, foaming. The beauty here is indescribable. As is the loss.

My eyes are hungry. My head is full. The rocks in my pocket are as heavy as my heart, knowing I must depart. Again.

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