Last Friday I went on a quest for a place to get books to read. I was happy to discover that the local library is practically down the street from us, so I took the free afternoon to go exploring. I'd never been in a local library in Taiwan before.
I pulled into the street, expecting to find a large building with a welcoming entrance, but instead I found a grungy-looking community swimming pool facing a windowless wall, backing a handful of scooters and bicycles. The wall turned out to be the back of the library, so I parked Little Red and walked to the front.
The entrance was somewhat promising -- a large children's section filled the bottom floor where a few kids milled about, alongside an area for wi-fi. I went upstairs to the sections labeled "Reading Area" and explored the many shelves. I found the foreign literature sections and scanned each shelf for any book that might have English contained therein. In my long, labored search, I found a handful of books that included short story collections, poetry books, and short novels published as language learning tools. I spent most of the afternoon there reading a book called "Daddy Long Legs" which story I knew about from a Chinese children's picture book from my childhood. I don't think I ever really read that book, even though it had 注音. The pictures were drawn by what could have been an anime artist, so they alone told the story enough for me.
Anyhow, the short (or long) span of time spent exploring and delving into a fictional character's life was tantalizing and refreshing. I was very disappointed when the library staff wouldn't let me check out other books because I don't have a Taiwanese ID card...but I figured I could come back and find them to read in a quiet corner on a wooden chair while the HVAC grumbled and the eaves creaked in an invisible breeze. At least they had air conditioning.
Afterwards I found "The Great Gatsby" online at home and finished reading it in two days. Now I'm ready for the movie to come out! :)
That evening B and I went searching for an elementary school with an open track to go running. We found one in the dark that a polite gate guard directed us towards, and the exercise was good for our bodies and our spirits. It feels good to find a balance in the humdrum of daily life, even if it is doing once-familiar activities in an entirely different context.