2019 Spring Taiwan Temple Exchange Thomas Kuklinski

Metro Muscle Memory

I went home for a week over break. In hindsight, 7 days was too short given jet lag and travel time, and I wish I had stayed longer, but that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about losing my glasses.

Somewhere over the Arctic en route to Hong Kong I took off my glasses and fell asleep. When I woke up, I couldn’t find my glasses. I was at a window seat, it was cramped, and I didn’t want to disturb everyone to find my glasses. Besides, I only had 16 inches of legroom, so I wasn’t necessarily looking far, anyway.


The thing about losing your glasses is that, you need to see to find them. I assumed they were somewhere conspicuous, but even the clear-sighted cabin crew was unable to find them. So now we have an issue: I’m blind, in Hong Kong, and I have one hour to change planes. So, me, a man who appears to have witnessed the fall of the Qing Dynasty, and the Cathay Pacific Disability Support Team all loaded onto a golf cart and get whisked around Chek Lap Kok Airport. I got to Taiwan without any problems.

After customs, I faced my next problem, the hour-long commute back to my apartment. I could have just taken a cab home, but my obsession with public transit will always win out. Besides, it’s, like, 4 times more expensive to take a cab. So I made my way to the Airport MRT.


I followed the crowds to the metro station and got on the train. But when I arrived at Taipei Main Station there were no crowds to follow. It’s the Main Station. There’re crowds for 2 metro lines, a bus terminal, high speed rail, and commuter rail all in competing directions. I didn’t squint, or ask for directions, I didn’t look at the signs and I didn’t need to. It felt like I was in the same windy, circuitous tunnels at City Hall Station in Philadelphia. Illogically laid out, but somehow natural.


I got home. I put my things down and walked to a nearby glasses store. It was 8 pm on a Sunday. By 9 pm I got an eye exam and custom glasses for $60 with no insurance and no appointment. While they were cutting my lenses, I ate fried chicken on a park bench. I meandered back to the store, adjusted the frames against my nose, and I could see again.

When I could finally see again after 12 hours, I almost wanted it to feel like “I’m seeing Taipei for the first time, again.” But that wasn’t the feeling at all. I was back in Taipei. I was back in my neighborhood. I was back.

When I was navigating the city on my own, there wasn’t any fanfare, it wasn’t anything special. I just felt like things were falling back into place, and, honestly, that’s more comfortable and welcoming than the padded backseat of a taxicab rolling up to my door.

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