I looked behind me, my sister was already deep asleep.
The airplane air was dry, so dry that I couldn’t tolerate wearing contact lenses. I turned around. My fiancee, Elaine, was wearing her glasses too.
She smiled at me and asked, “Are you ready to be 25% married?” I gave her a gentle nod and said “Yes, of course.”
14 hours later, we landed in Taiwan.
Taiwan has a special place in my heart.
When my dad passed away, my sister and I were shipped to Tainan (a city on the southwest coast of Taiwan) to live with my grandparents.
This gave my mom the opportunity to go back to school without the burden of dealing with her 2 annoying, bratty kids.
We lived in Taiwan for a total of 4 years before coming back to the States.
Being in Taiwan always gave me a feeling of nostalgia.
The food, family, the culture. Sporadic childhood memories of my sister and I returned.
Like the time when we were suspended upside down on the apex of a ghetto roller coaster for 2 hours.
It’s probably the reason we are both deathly afraid of heights.
Taiwan has it all.
Night markets. 7-Elevens. Lakes. MRT. Mopeds. Boba milk tea. Monuments. Night clubs. Endless shopping. Bullet trains. Mountains.
Humble, old-school, empathetic and sincere.
On the same weekend, we witnessed our good friends Johnathan and his seraphic wife Emily tie the knot.
With the distant mountains as their backdrop, they celebrated love and life. A surprise firework show capped off their special night.
Taiwan was a part of their story too.
We decided on a wedding banquet in Taiwan because of family.
With so many important family members living in Taiwan, it just made sense.
My mom was smiling the whole night. Perhaps it was because she was surrounded by her closest childhood friends.Or maybe it was because she was happy for me. I don’t know.
But I smiled through the whole night too.
On our last day, Elaine and I went to Ximending, a popular shopping area in Taipei.
This was where I randomly ran into her in 2005. We often reminisced about that day. I would always remind her that was the day I knew I was going to marry her.
The streets of Ximending were crowded with people but we spotted a small opening. We stopped, we smiled and took a polaroid together.
Our Taiwan tradition continues.
Through her thick lenses, I saw the focus in her eyes. She was already tackling her work emails that had piled up.
I poked her stomach with my index finger, breaking her concentration. I asked her, “Are you ready to be 100% married next month?”
She gave me a gentle smile and said “Yes, of course.” Then I took off my contact lenses and closed my eyes.
12 hours later, we were back in California.