Dinner time for us is a time to catch up with the days events, a time for me to pontificate on the importance of academic performance, and an opportunity to discuss whatever topics pop into the kids heads; lately it’s been a weird mix of cannabis use, Korean pop and my sons desire to attend Rice University (my daughter wants to escape to Europe). I have been trying to ensure that, in spite our active after school schedule, we keep this routine, which means we might be eating dinner at 4, 6 or after 7. Facilitating these conversations was a role my wife played in the past and a role that I am trying to temporarily fill in her absence. Luckily the kids have lots to talk about as I’ve never been in the habit of sharing the banality of my day over food.
One of our last conversations included all the things they miss since leaving Taiwan. They listed the usual things that Taiwanese would mention: the food, the convenience of everything and of course their friends. Friendships seem a bit harder to cultivate here than in Hsinchu; Camren was incredibly active these past few years but while having made friends here, there doesn’t appear to be any shared activities yet.
One curious revelation came from this conversation. My daughter now identifies herself as from Taiwan, and yet while in Taiwan she most recently would state she’s from Canada. Of course we all knew there would be an adjustment period, you can’t expect to land in any new place and expect to be connected in the same way someone who has lived here there whole lives. I, having grown up here, still feel more like an immigrant than anything else.
During the course of the conversation they asked what I missed and I stated the expected, the fruit, the coffee and the language. I have regrets about my rapidly diminishing Chinese language ability. I didn’t mention how much I miss the work; which would be as much a surprise to them is it is to me (It was common for me to come home visibly stressed many nights).
Right now, I’m fairly certain if I returned to Taiwan or China to work at a tech company in some capacity I would regret the decision fairly quickly. At my age and experience I might not be a great fit for many organizations. But I do miss the pace, the variety and challenge of the work, being a designer, and the smart people who pushed me to keep up. It’s an exciting place with the expectation that almost anything can be done, a real emphasis on making vs marketing. And having an office full of colleagues with all the antics that often come with that can be a big bonus. Now when I come out of my cave here in Stratford, I sometimes forget how to talk.
It’s common to romanticize a memory, “in the old days” things were often better we say, but in reality the work culture in Taiwan was insane, with too many having no life outside the office. Living here is great and I’m sure the kids will adjust to ice cream over fruit, hamburgers instead of beef noodles, and enjoy the international feel that Charlottetown now provides.