Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 27 2006

Back in the day

I’d planned to renew my long-since-expired motorcycle registration this afternoon before work, but when I got to the DMV I was told that, since I was changing the color of the bike, I’d need to get it inspected. My present registration says “black” as the bike’s color, though it was black and red, the traditional RZR colors. So I’m going to have to wait until it’s all fixed up before I can go get it re-registered.

Rather than take the MRT directly back to the office, I decided instead to walk up Ba-de Road, and after a couple of blocks I found myself looking up at the building on whose rooftop I once practiced Kung-fu on a daily basis. The old sign on the building’s side was gone or covered up, but a faded green placard still adorned the top. I walked past the lobby, outside which I used to park my Honda during practice. The last time I exited that door I was gasping in pain and leaning on a classmate’s shoulder.

In 1991-1992, I was up there all the time. Life then was good, if poor. I was working as a camera assistant at the Kuangchi Programming Service, making NT$15,000 a month, NT$4000 of which I used for the rent on a decent room on Minsheng East Road. At night when I got off work early enough I would ride my motorcycle to the Kung-fu center on Ba-de Road for practice. Our teacher was a short, stocky guy surnamed Chen, and I was learning the Chang-hong style, empty-handed and stick forms. The training was tough, but I was in good shape and making decent progress. In all respects, I was living the life I’d envisioned for myself.

Then, one night, I was in the middle of a series of flying kicks when I came down wrong and seriously injured my left knee. I couldn’t walk for a while and lost my job. My landlady didn’t appreciate me being home all the time and kicked me out. I had no job, no place to live and I couldn’t walk well, much less continue training. I decided to leave Taiwan and take a position as a shoe inspector in China.

Living in the same city for a long time can play tricks with one’s perception of time, making it seem like it’s not really flowing as fast as it is. But as I stood looking up at that building, I suddenly felt the solid presence of the decade and a half between me and that life, that version of myself.

My life since has been interesting, no doubt, but I can’t help wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t injured myself that night. Due to the more violent nature of that particular martial art, an injury was probably going to happen sooner or later. I’ve been involved in movies on and off in the time since, and I’ve gotten back into martial arts, albeit softer, more internal forms these days. Perhaps I would have ended up the same, just without the detour to China. Or perhaps I would still be on top of that building. I could wonder forever and still not know.

After standing there for several minutes with these thoughts running through my head, I turned and walked on to Dunhua South Road, where, coincidentally, I lived after coming back from China, in a fire-damaged walk-up room with particle-board walls for NT$4500 a month. There was a bridge in front of the building then, running over the train tracks. I was just starting out at a small TV station called TVBS, which occupied a couple of floors in a small building near Jinshan Road.

Aside from the railway bridge being gone, the area hasn’t changed all that much. I would have loved to have had access to the MRT back then, but I had to rely on the then-new-to-me Gendoyun to get around. The MRT has changed the city in countless ways, not the least of which is the way it reduces the city to disconnected points rather than the urban stream one takes in from the seat of a motorcycle. Much like living in the same spot and watching the flow of time as opposed to moving around and living life in a series of disconnects.

posted by Poagao at 9:37 am  

1 Comment »

  1. beautiful writing. if you saw the first rocky movie in 76- see the new rocky balboa to get a real feeling of warped time perception. it was a comforting movie in a weird way.

    Comment by vvv — December 27, 2006 @ 2:58 am

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