3 Happiest Moments

Every time I read a Harry Potter book, I would pause when Harry had to use the Patronum charm to scare away the dementors.  I would rack my brain, unsure of what I would use as my happiest memory in a pinch.  Thankfully, in the past two years I can think of three points in time where I felt absolutely nothing but 100% bliss.

1.  My last night in Taiwan, Summer of 2014.  The last night: with all the wonderful people in one place, it was definitely the most bittersweet highlight of my trip there.  I loved the friends I made who I openly shared my stories with, cried with, laughed with, and explored with; they were memories that I never thought would happen to me.  About 17 of us gathered to eat dinner together and celebrate my farewell and Sharon’s birthday. 10604046_10152605361478960_8542847123242569586_o

Maybe it was the fact that I knew this trip would only last two months that I was so free-spirited and appreciative.  It was that whole sentimentality of “We will never all be together, at this exact place, at this exact time, at this exact mo-” well, you get the picture.   We found a rooftop-ish bar near central Taipei 101, drinking a little, taking photos, and just soaking in the moment.  Sharon gave me a gigantic card with heartfelt messages from everyone, and my Swedish friend Chris also gave me some (rather questionable) Swedish candy and a letter.  If there is any direct key to my heart, it would be a long sappy letter.  Sharon, Nathalie, and I sneaked away from the group to walk up to the actual rooftop, and we lay there looking over the city and the sky.  15 minutes of unadulterated peace, where I genuinely could not ask for anything more.

2.  My co-counselor’s surprise birthday celebration at camp, Summer of 2015. When you spend months holed up, a huge part of you enters hibernation mode and lays dormant, just hanging in there.  This is a unique circumstance applicable to just me, but what it does is wake me up when summer comes, and when I am in my happy place, I become aggressively friendly to make up for the rest of the times I am not.  Even complaining about stupid, trivial things like some seven-year old kid feeling up my boob, or people I worked with, brought me its own kind of happiness, because they were ordinary, fleeting problems.  Because when you’re depressed, all you see are the times you take from others, but when you’re happy, you give. It was nearing the end of Chinese-Immersion school, another bittersweet end, and I felt so grateful for the experience of learning, especially about children.  Let me tell you, kids be crazy.  But they’re also mean.  And sweet, hilarious, inappropriate, and cute.  Somehow I must’ve stalked my way into learning that my co-counselor’s birthday was in a few days, and with the other co-counselors, we devised a plan and riled up the students to put in a real team effort to surprise him.  True to Jasmine-style with sappy ass cards, we compiled a giant birthday card; his brother bought him a fancy cake, and our boss even bought him a batman t-shirt.  She sent him to the back of the building to do monotonous work in organizing reading books, and we herded all the kids into the kitchen to wait with baited breath. 11907853_10153558106773960_9058393633543729590_oAndddd it was a SUCCESS!  His reaction was so pure and so amazing that it caught me off guard and made my emotions soar off the charts.  11878987_10153558107218960_488502593364788403_oMaybe it reminded me of how overwhelming positive moments can be when they do come along.

3.  Gondola ride in Venice, Summer of 2015.  Getting anywhere is a fucking challenge.  You’re battling your anxiety, your fears, your limitations, physically and mentally.  But let me tell you, the journey to Venice is probably what seeing your baby after being pregnant for 9 months might feel like.  I imagine anyway.  As my parents and I roamed around the city and I stood in St. Mark’s Square, images of me being proposed to here flooded my mind.  And then I went and stuffed my face with gelato, shielding it with trepid glances at the many doves fluttering above my head.  Yes, birds have pooped on me before, so no, I wasn’t being too paranoid.  But, I digress.  We communicated as best we could with a handsome, older Venetian man and before we knew it, were ushered into a gondola.  I had never stood anywhere before where any given direction I stared took my breath away. 12045804_10153669170038960_6049158632185807722_o A city built on water, Venice was surreal.  A figment of my imagination, where men looked good sporting man buns. 

What are your happiest moments?

What I Learned in Taiwan

That year had been particularly rough on me, and I remember being on a bus in a desperate attempt to swig away my sorrows at TCNJ Senior Night, texting on a whim confirmation to my parents to sign me up for school in Taipei.  I was and am always hesitant and doubtful of new and scary experiences, but my grief momentarily blinded me from worrying, and it ended up being one of the best. decisions. ever.  Not knowing what to expect, my mom and I hopped on a plane in late May, and our first days of exploring the campus of National Taiwan Normal University excited me endlessly.  My mom finally coped enough to leave me to my independence after two or three weeks, and that week and a half was the funnest ever.  Sure, there were moments where I was so exhausted I was just barely able to move to buy myself dinner, and sure, the dorm’s strict curfew of 11:30pm was annoying, but for the most part, I was content to be able to manage my life without feeling so restricted.  Among the highlights of my trip were:

    1. Visiting my moms’ old friend’s village, which felt like a town in a Miyazaki film.  Her sweet and kindhearted family can COOK.
    2. Meeting up with my TCNJ friend Lauren at Danshui and having the MOST MAGICAL BUBBLE TEA at a cute cafe
    3. Going to Beitou Hot Springs and trying to compete against stolid old people by sitting in boiling water on a 90+ degree summer day- guess whose fingers were prunier?? Yeah, we didn’t win.
    4. Typhoon night where I huddled in my dorm with two yams from 7-Eleven
    5. Attending a 12 Cellos concert, courtesy of my aunt (phenomenal performance) in Kaohsiung
    6. Meeting new people, eating and bonding on mini-trips

During these mini travels, after months of therapy was I able to muster the courage to communicate my needs to new friends.  I tried to mask my shaky confidence as I explained what I needed: their understanding in walking slowly with me because it was hard for me.  I still remember the fear I felt bringing it up to my friend Nio as I walked with him and another guy through the streets, realizing if I didn’t say something soon I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I was tired.  Surprisingly, without blinking or giving me any side look of pity, Nio said “Sure,” slowed down and casually asked me what my condition was.  A heavy weight lifted from my shoulders, and I felt acceptance.  What I learned was that as inconvenient as conditions like mine were and as rare as awesome people are to find, they exist. And sometimes you have to forgive yourself and distinguish yourself from your chronic conditions, and take a leap of faith in opening up.  Recognize that sometimes, you are not the problem.