I planned a trip from Taipei down to central Taiwan.
“You are taking the train?” Dad asked.
“Don’t eat or drink anything for several hours before.”
“You don’t want to use the bathroom on the train.”
“Make sure not to eat or drink anything for several hours,” he repeated.
Later, Mom took me aside.
“Emmie,” she said. “You don’t want to use the bathroom on the train.”
“Yeah, Dad told me.”
“Emmie. It is important. Make sure you don’t eat or drink anything before you get on. If you do, you’ll be sorry.”
"I guess the bathrooms are disgusting?"
"It was so terrible," she said.
My parents kept some snack food in the house, but it never felt like enough. Since I always craved it, I ate all art projects with edible parts. In kindergarten, we made owls on burlap with pretzel heads, Cheerio eyes, peanut beaks, walnut shell bodies and pretzel stick feet. I gnawed everything off except for the walnut shells.
On the MRT to my next destination, I opened my new Chinese seal and tried it out. It wasn’t my name. I studied it for a minute, since I sometimes forget my name.
I got off at the next stop and hopped on the train heading back towards the 30-square-foot shop.
“Excuse me, but . . . this isn’t my name.”
“That’s your name,” the stamp guy said, puzzled.
“Sorry, but it isn’t.”