I have never experienced jet lag before so I don’t know how to handle this.

I am asleep in the daytime and fully awake at night which is perfect for a city like Taipei that never sleeps. Also in the daytime Taipei is only a little cooler than Lagos at its hottest. I walk down the street and I am the only one sweating. The ever fashionable Taipei women are wearing cardigans in 85 degrees and not breaking a sweat. I am dressed like the American I am slowly becoming, comfortable and yet I look like I just stepped out of the shower.

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In spite of this I fall in love with Taipei easily. I was worried before coming here. Worried about being black in a place where are a few black people. Three days here and I have only seen one black person in the whole time. I get stares but I get more smiles. My first breakfast is at a street food stall. The lady making my meal tells me I am beautiful in halting English and I want to kiss and hug her. I am more confident in Taipei after that.

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The young people in Taipei are more fashionable than all New Yorkers put together. They are daring too and push some crazy boundaries when it comes to fashion. Young lovers kiss passionately and I try not to stare. I have seen people kiss in NYC many times but never with such askance.

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Everyone gets in by Thursday and we head out to dinner. As we walk to the Xinyi metro it feels like just yesterday Gift was mooning over a Coach bag at the premium outlet mall in Virginia. She whispers in my ear when we pass Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and other luxury stores.

“Lets go in Kiah.”
“You are mad and you have had no one to tell you for three years but no worries Kiah is here now. Face your front Gift”
“We won’t buy anything. It isn’t like we can afford to but let’s just look.”

I ignore her pleas and hold her hand steadily to ensure she doesn’t clean out both our bank accounts.

P is as funny as ever and his wife is so dainty I want to pick her up.
Nel is a sight for sore eyes. I can’t take my eyes off her. She hasn’t aged one freaking day and yet she won’t tell me her secret to eternal youth.

She tells us about Chinese traditional wedding rites.

“The groom has to carry the bride from her house to his. Her feet cannot touch the floor.”
“What if the bride is a big girl like me and the groom is skinny? ” I ask.
“We will just use a wheelchair for you then.” P tells me kindly , patting my shoulder comfortingly.

I love my friends.

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Amber is Amber, tomboyish to the very end. A, our bride is the calmest bride I have ever seen. She tells us she isn’t nervous, just wants it over and done with like it is one of those pesky things life makes you do.

We gossip about our former classmates and their idiosyncrasies. Then Nel gives us our marching orders for the next day. “I am picking you guys up around 9 am. Kiah, you better not be sleeping. Gift, I am not waiting for you to do your make up….” Nel is the tiniest and still Mom.

The food at Hutong is worth every penny mostly because of who is at the table with me.

Friendship, this is why I came to Taipei. Everything else is an extra.