I've been back in Taiwan for less than a week, but already my trip to the States seems so long ago. I spent four days in Boston and four days in L.A. My brother is the best: he flew up to Boston one weekend to be with me, and to L.A. the following weekend (he's currently on a short-term assignment in Buffalo). Even more impressive is when three of my girlfriends and I picked him up at the airport in Rhode Island and then promptly went outlet shopping for 8 hours straight. A lot of my trip was spent shopping, not just for myself but also for the items that friends and co-workers in Taiwan requested (I was so proud of myself when I was able to get Eve's now-discontinued Bath & Bodyworks Country Apple scent lotion, as well as Angie's dried white sage to burn for home fragrance--the latter obtained in an alternative-Tibetan-bookstore in Santa Monica). My cousin, Evelyn, laughed as she saw me pack--I looked like I was going to Africa, not Taiwan, she said. But there are things you cannot get here, or the markup is incredibly expensive, so I brought back steel-cut oats, dried blueberries, almond butter, an acceptable substitute for my favorite Great Harvest Bread Company honey whole-wheat bread, and organic linens.
I had a list of restaurants that I wanted to eat at while in the States, but after two days I felt so full. Still, I got my $3 falafel from the food trucks outside of MIT, Indian food, and great Korean BBQ. I marveled at all the changes on campus, how young the students seemed to be, the comforting familiarity of administrators and professors--good friends--that were still there. Zofia was a fantastic host, and so good to see her after two and a half years. The amazing thing was, with email and instant messaging, we really only needed to catch up on two days worth of going-ons.
I was really struck by fashions in the States this time around. American woman have a casual, earthy sexiness. I noticed a change in footwear--flip flops were almost ubiquitous. Tank tops, jeans. Very casual. American women are bigger (larger portion sizes play a part, I'm sure), but also strong. They work out. They walk with pride. In contrast, young Taiwanese women are in general thin flaccidness encased in fashions that are not flattering: a mish-mash of ruffles and clashing patterns, in flats with pointy, witch-like upturned toes. And the shuffle across the street. Completely unattractive. Last night at Mint, I met a beautiful Taiwanese girl. Absolutely lovely face, but below the neck, I just didn't get her outfit.
Of course, there are Taiwanese women who do dress very well. And certainly some very strong women as well. Today I saw the incomparable Cloudgate dance company perform. My favorite piece was "The Road To The Mountain," which was very Taiwanese in its themes, referring to village life in Taiwan and its history. As usual, their athleticism was so powerful. I'm especially impressed because after an hour of Angie's dance class last Friday, I could only muster up enough energy to flail to the music, never mind the turns.