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Embracing the future by visiting the past

"What should I do for my birthday?" she asked herself, for almost a year now. On her 30th, she escaped to Germany to be entertained from Kiel to Mannheim to Stuttgart. It was now another milestone, and she was torn between having a big party or simply disappearing to another country.

She did not fear falling in love, experiencing regret, or meeting strangers in cyberspace. But she did fear the passing of time, especially birthdays that celebrate ages divisible by 10.

On the morning of her birthday, a young economist, who had followed her whereabouts and writings a few years before, met her face to face for the first time. At her request, he escorted her to the kindergarten that they had both attended. They sat in the tiny chairs and listened to the school attendant talk about the history and philosophy of the first public kindergarten of its kind.

On the evening of her birthday, she met up with classmates she's known since junior high school. These were the girls who welcomed an extroverted teenager from out of town to spend the summer months. She gave English names to Tina who played the piano and Florence who loved to converse in English.

It was a fancy vegetarian banquet, an all-you-can-eat buffet of Chinese, Japanese, and Western gourmet food. The four girls who treated her to this memorable feast had all married in their twenties and had children, and were all working full-time in different professions. They were all slim, beautiful, self-confident, and happy.

"Is anyone in our class still single?" she asked. Has she become the exception rather than the rule?

"Do you recommend marriage? Do you recommend having children?"

Rebecca advised,"It's only hard work for the first ten years. Then your child becomes your friend --- for life."

"Yes," added Jourena, "You will always have your children as your friends."

"But I have friends everywhere," she said.

"Will they be with you when you are old?" challenged Jourena. "Stop thinking so much. Just decide and do it."

Why has she been fearing and resisting this birthday for so long? It was a wake-up call to make a now-or-never decision about whether she wanted to create friends she could keep for the rest of her life.

17 April 2004 Saturday

Related journal entries and links:
Almost 20 year reunion
Classmates, Taipei April 2004
A friend in need is a friend indeed
I've been to paradise but never been to me by Charlene
Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei Mandarin Experimental Elementary School and Kindergarten
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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