We had an earthquake last week – not big, but enough to get my attention as I was drifting off to sleep. I mention it because I had been expecting an earthquake for several days prior. It's nothing more than being in tune with the cycles of things – I'm not claiming any special power here – but we seemed due for one, and then there it was. (This happened before the quake in November, too.) I'm not all that fond of earthquakes, but there is some comfort in knowing a place so well.
I've been thinking of the other peculiar ways I know Taiwan. My butter and salt tell me the weather (butter stays hard on cold days, and my dish of sea salt clumps up in the humidity, even when there's no discernible change inside the house). I know what color the sky turns before a big storm, although I am still caught off guard when we have rainy days in the dry season. I heard shooshing in the street this morning and thought, "What is that?" Thirty-some years in Washington should have taught me by now.
I know what other drivers are thinking, or at least I can predict the moves they're going to make. (Whether there's a thought process behind the action is sometimes debatable.) I enjoy the organic nature of driving here, like water seeking the most natural course. It's best not to fight it.
I know when people are surreptitiously photographing my children at Costco, and I can spot fellow foreigners by the way they move (as well as by the content of their carts).
I can identify almost all of the kids in our building by their various cries.
I know that congealed chicken blood tastes lovely until you know what it is.
I know how to say what I want at McDondald's, but I also know that the order will not be right.
I know that my Chinese teacher will utter the words, "What I know is..." at least once in every conversation. It always makes me smile.
I know which parking garages can accommodate our very tall Toyota Zace, including the ones that say they're too low but really aren't.
I know how coin-op grocery carts work.
I know how to use chopsticks, and how not to use them, which is just as important.
I know that I may pick my nose in public (although I don't), but never my teeth (which I sometimes do). I know I use more paper napkins when I eat beef noodles then anyone else around me. I don't know how they do it.
I know my European shoe size, my children's heights in centimeters, and what to wear when it's 16º, 21º, or 34ºC.
I know what it's like to be almost famous. We are stared at, approached, photographed, and whispered about wherever we go. Sometimes it's flattering, and sometimes just annoying.
I know there's a reason we're here, and I know there will come a time to leave. I don't know the details on either count, but God does, and that is good enough for now.
I know the next few years are going to be interesting.