Our Milk tea River

80% humidity and It is class time but I’ve been relegated to the computer to do something or other.

‘Maybe you want to work on the third grades….I will just let the sixth grades do the workbook…’ Ellen said to me, after I gushed to her about fleece-lined pants in an awkward attempt at conversation. I don’t really ever know what she wants from me, so sometimes I just end up awkwardly hovering around her desk until she tells me to go make myself busy- or that in so many words.

So here I sit with hunched shoulders, fingers sticking to keys as I type. If I were to tell you that I wished I were at home in the states experiencing winter you might think I was crazy.

‘But you’re living in Taiwan!’ you might say, ‘it’s warm there!’

Well there, my friend, is where you are sadly mistaken. It has rained all week, and it will rain all next week too. The weather here in the winter is moist, damp, and full of rain that creates fingers that are at once cold and sticky. You will stick to everything. Your clothes will not dry. Your towel will not dry. You worry that if you take a shower you will mold because your hair won’t dry. You will begin to keep your electronics in plastic bags because you’re afraid of them rusting or becoming damp. Nothing will feel warm anymore, even if you wear six sweaters. Of course, the sweaters you brought are nothing more than cardigans since you didn’t think Taiwan got this cold in the winter. Denial will never get you anywhere.

Yesterday we discovered that our washer has a drier function. Unfortunately it takes about 4 hours to go full cycle enough to even take the wet out of things. That, and they are damp again an hour later. I am on the verge of defying my stingy nature and buying a dehumidifier.

Rain falls relentlessly here and when it isn’t full on raining, something wet is happening and causing every surface to be covered in a sort of misty film that makes trying to find anything dry, towel, plate, electronic screen, almost impossible. Nothing feels clean. I mopped the stairs from top to bottom yesterday in a strategic pattern such that I wouldn’t re-track my steps and create muddy footprints as I went. Of course, we had to be careful all day because it was still wet hours later.

Yesterday, as we took out the trash, I watched the river. I always seem to get my best ideas whilst taking out the trash, when my hands are too grimy with compost and old newspapers to write anything down. Today’s image was our river. The river runs behind our house, littered with old chicken bones and overgrown green moss. On still summer days, the water is clean and clear. Lately, however, it has been churning and turning up the secrets that lie on its bottom. Our riverbed cup is filled with milk tea with small white waves of foam.

Love, Hannah