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tourist in my own country

By Jun Chou

an old woman meets my pace as i’m walking along a road in Taiwan (a country where i was born but not where i was raised) and starts speaking to me in Taiwanese (a dialect i’d understand if i stayed but don’t because i didn’t) and right as i am about to politely, pitifully excuse myself, a moped whizzes by and barely knocks us over; as she stabilizes on my forearm i exhale “are you okay” in my broken mandarin and she nods, smiles, and pats my arm gently, shocking in the way it evokes my grandma (who lived and died alone in Taiwan, with whom i communicated primarily in gestures and expressions and touch), and i think of how odd it is for our elders to reassure us (when they are the ones with the frail bodies closer to death) and as i gaze up at all the illegible neon signs above us, i silently mourn this familiar space between feeling like home and feeling like i will never truly belong (anywhere)

Jun Chou is a writer based in Brooklyn.

Art by Jun Chou.


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