It was late morning and the timing of my iced coffee’s caffeine boost and my natural morning energy coincides nicely. I was calm and warm as I settled into the window seat. Outside the rice paddies whipped by at 300kph, and the rolling hills and mountains of northern Taiwan gave way to the farms and towns between the wall of the mountains and the glistening sea of the strait. I watched as life sail by and felt relaxed. 

I knew she’d be waiting for me at the station. Not the High-speed rail station, as a matter of principle she wouldn’t be there. She never wanted to look too ready to see me. She always wanted me to travel a little through Kaohsiung to see her. She would, though, be waiting at the gate of the subway station, foot tapping impatiently, and face enraptured with a smile. She will have two sweating cups of an odd tea-fruit-lemonade combination something like kiwi green tea lemonade or something. She always greets me with one as a welcome to the tropical band of Earth. She will smile and say “Thanks for crossing the Tropic of Cancer for me.”

I took a sip of my iced coffee, which sweat even in the perfectly climate-controlled train. The car was relatively full, with three sitting on one side of the train, two on the other. I always snagged a seat on the two side when I could, and as luck would have it today I had the row to myself. Well maybe we’ll pick up someone in Taichung, but who knows. 

I could see her now in my mind. She’d be standing in short shorts and a t-shirt. She had embraced the beach life of Kaohsiung and would have the tan she got from her days at the beach learning to surf. She will usually have her hair in a loose ad-hoc ponytail. She was never one to really dress up, and I love that about her. I’ve been missing her each and every one of the rainy days that seem to forever hold the capital in their damp embrace. 

The train blows past a station at outrageous speed and I marvel at the technology. The quiet train carries me with incredible speed from the north of the island to the south in all of 90 minutes. Our homes are within a lazy morning’s trip despite their physical distance. 

I know these trips will have to stop. We will have to decide what to do. Either I will ride this train one last time will my bags and be greeted with a passionfruit-black tea-limeade at the apartment we share, or she will come up with her surfboard and leave it in the living room of our apartment and surf the swells of the north shore. 

Or we’ll break up, but that’s not a thought I want to entertain. 

That conversation can be delayed. I have the means now to take this train down the spine of the country, and she up when she can. I can combine love and quick weekend getaways. And that smile I get at the top of the escalator at the metro stop is worth the trip every time- that radiant visage above the two sweating drinks. 

Would I get that every day after work when I come home? If the answer is yes, I wouldn’t just move to Kaohsiung for her. I’d move anywhere she asked, just for the eyes of my tropical surfer girl. 

You might also enjoy: