I’m writing a journal of sorts, only I’m doing it publicly on the blog as an experiment. Here is the first entry. I’ll try to maintain a similar style to how I write in my actual private journal, an activity – more like a thought process – that I’ve kept since high school (although I have since lost most of the high school and college entries, which is a crying shame since they would be hilarious and embarrassing to read now…how little things mattered in hindsight and yet how much things seem to matter today, it’s just samsara, the cycle simply repeats).
I mentioned briefly in the last entry that I feel like a floater here in Taipei: no direct family here, no job that requires a local presence, only a personal preference to live here (for now) and not in America (for now). Three minutes into most conversations that I have here with unknown people, especially Taiwanese people, after they discover that my family is from China and I don’t have a local job, they immediately ask: “Why are you in Taiwan?”
I suppose many of them can’t understand why someone would personally choose to live here, of their own volition, if it weren’t requested by relatives or dictated by a boss. It does highlight the narrow worldview of some Taiwanese, a quality which also has its charms. But the question annoys me and I’m on the verge of just fabricating a story, like “Oh, I started a wholesale company here to export local goods to America.” That seems simultaneously specific and vague and boring enough that people will want to switch topics.
I basically like being a floater, in much the same way – or perhaps for the same reasons – that I like to spend a lot of time by myself. It’s a conscious choice to extract myself from the regular pressures and workaday expectations I had known so well. I am reminded of a throwaway line from an anime called Rurouni Kenshin which my friend Brian introduced me to: “Becoming an artist is the best way to avoid annoying, ordinary society”.
A good friend in Taipei read my first entry and the one thing that stood out to him was my failure to mention girls as a factor for why I chose to live here. Girls, as in how Taiwanese girls are beautiful and friendly and easy for foreigners to date. In his view, perhaps the main reason (or the only reason?) why a relatively young and single American would choose to live in Taipei (as opposed to perhaps China or Europe) is because the dating life is so good.
He’s right, of course. When I look at expats here in Taiwan, or in China, the only other country I know well enough to assess, and specifically I mean expats who actually reside in the country and not college students on a lark for six months, there are two types: type #1 is usually a tad socially awkward, likely not fully integrated or comfortable in their home country, and has a strong interest in Asian culture which is vaguely defined as Asian food / movies / the language; type #2 is horny and largely motivated by the prospect of sex, whether because they were starved of it through their formative adolescent and college years, or because they struggle to develop intimacy in normal relationships and use sex as a kind of physical band-aid for an emotional wound, and are in Asia to take advantage of their more exotic and elevated status in the local dating hierarchy. Or all of the above.
That all sounds very hater-ish, and it is. But most of it also applies to me, and to ABC guys in general. The dating scene is easier for me, too. if I had to make up a number I’d say 25% easier. You are perceived as having more money or status; you’re a different cuisine than the local meal. Pair that with the Asian female tendency – taught from childhood and reinforced by social norms and vague concepts like Confucianism – to be more outwardly submissive and agreeable and naive, and you have an equation for greater amounts of superficial fun.
This craziness was definitely an attraction for me. But like a new laptop, it runs slower and crashes more with each passing year. And now that I’m 33, whether due to declining testosterone levels or hedonic adaptation or rising boredom, popping bottles at Omni or bar hopping on the Bund and trolling for party girls has lost its appeal. If a cute girl flirts with me and gives me obvious signals and the chemistry is good, I might take advantage of the situation if I’m not too tired or hungry or need to pee. But it’s more like a tired dog that eats a treat placed in front of its paws, than an eager puppy who lunges for his food. When I do go out, say for a birthday or holiday party, which still happens at least once a month, I find myself needing to get blackout drunk to have fun. In other words, I have to not be myself. Or else I just find the whole charade to be pretty stupid now.
I suppose at some level, both my body and brain (coordinating finally!) are telling me that it’s time to settle down, it’s time to find a serious partner and start a family. My desire is to find someone who is more local to China or Taiwan. Someone who can help fill that missing part of my identity and who has a worldview that is entirely different from mine, but also relatable. This plays a big role in why I choose to stay out here. I simply don’t see myself marrying an ABC in America, and I haven’t dated enough of the other races to have a strong view. All of this I will save for a separate and more elaborated post. But I’ll stop here because I’ve rambled for long enough.