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Working through old issues of Genesis (my high school's quarterly magazine), I came across some shocking news: Elaine de la Cruz had died. Elaine was my year. She was editor of the school newspaper, had a weird sense of humor, and had a ridiculously long commute, since her family had moved to Danville.

I saw her name in the obituary section, and I could not believe my eyes. Her car had flipped over or something, she was driving cross-country. She is survived by her parents and her siblings, the notice says.

That night, I had a dream. Elaine and I are chatting away about the notice in Genesis. "I know, everybody thinks I died," she says. "It was all a big mistake," she tells me. "It was actually my parents who died in a car accident, and the editor got the news but somehow mixed it up. Everybody's been calling and asking about it," she says. I am sorry to hear about her parents.

I wake up, and it takes me a while to figure out it was just a dream. I feel freshly disappointed.

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the woman looked like she was in her fifties. I anticipated the high-pitched beep confirming a full fare deposited as she dropped the coins into the fare machine. $1.25 total.

the beep never came.

the man behind her reached over and hit the cancel button. then he inserted his $1.25. it beeped, and he boarded.

"hey, you have to pay the full fare," the driver said to the woman.

"i did!" she said indignantly. "i put in a dollar twenty-five, like i do every time," she insisted. i thought maybe i should say something to back her up, something like, "yeah, i saw her, the guy behind her cancelled it so it didn't beep!" but i didn't.

The bus driver was annoyed now. he started taking the bus on a random detour. where were we now, moraga? back down to 43rd? for some reason, he was driving the bus backwards. oh great, i thought. now it'll take forever to get there. if only i'd said something, i thought. now we don't even know where we're going. as it turned out, after some more circuitous turns, the bus arrived (still backwards) at the marina. i got off and started walking.

in this area there's always tourists. i passed by some place that looked vaguely familiar. "look, harold," a tourist was saying. i listened in on the words directed at harold. "that cave contains an entire house!" now i remembered. i'd been to the front of the house before; now we were at the back of the cave. i ducked past some other tourists taking pictures as i made my way to the next part of town, Paris.

Here I am in Paris, i thought. maybe i should call up Hoang. no wait, he's back in California already.

the light rail rumbles past me along its tracks.

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I'm feeling off-kilter, so i decide to take an afternoon nap. Not that it helps much. I enter a gay bar and sit down, waiting for the waiter to ask me what i want to drink. i find that he seems to be categorically ignoring me (which is just as well, so now I don't have to pay), so i get up for what i came for in the first place: in a shelf behind me is some stuff that i've been storing here. I kneel down to pull out the calligraphy paper. I've been meaning to write since that calligraphy exhibit at the 故宮. I like bold, geometric, masculine strokes. Whatever that means. But i have to hurry up, the taxi outside is waiting for me. i hesitate. should i take the brush, or not? as i recall, the brush was a crappy one, so i might as well buy a new one. whatever. i stuff everything into my backpack and rush out. the taxi is still there, but the driver is talking on her cell phone. as we drive along, i look at the name on her cell phone. it turns out she's talking to Third Aunt--her daughter's name is there, Caller-ID'd for me to see. The driver's speaking Cantonese, but i don't think anything of it. Someone's very sick, apparently. They must be talking about Uncle. I realize that i haven't yet told the driver where i want to go yet. she continues blazing a path south down Roosevelt Road. At least it's the right direction. But I don't have my glasses on, so i have no idea where i am. maybe we've passed 台大 already. i don't want the main gate, i need to get back to my dorm. um, "siji?" I venture. she's talking away on her phone, not really paying attention to the road. she's actually kind of looking sideways. but here we are going 30km/hr and magically avoiding pedestrians and stationary objects. it is at once vaguely harrowing and at once not. as i struggle to pull out my glasses, she finally finishes her phone conversation.

"xinhai lu gen fuxing nan lu de lukou," i tell her. we're on our way. "你點樣識講廣東話嘅?" she asks me, in Cantonese. funny, i don't remember speaking Cantonese to her, but I guess I must have. I tell her. "Did you come to Taiwan to study?"

"Yes... Did you come here to... well, I guess you didn't come to drive a taxi."


"You know, you were just talking to my aunt," I tell her, still in Cantonese.

"Oh really? What a small world," she responds, though she doesn't act particularly surprised.

The ride back to my dorm is taking longer than expected. Now I'm at the hospital. i took a plane back to the states. why? something about my passport, although now that i'm here, i think they could just as easily have taken care of it in Taiwan. oh well. it's good to be back. i get to see my sister, and everyone. i'm sitting in a waiting room of some sort. I can see my uncle and aunt and all my relatives in the next room, but they don't see me yet. now i'm talking to him. he seems quite healthy, not really sick at all. you can't really tell there's been a sickness eating away at him for months, maybe years. i came here to see you, first thing, i tell him.

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