The black poster with the gothic lettering did not come under my range of awareness until the third morning that I woke up and crept on to the deck waiting for the rest of the world to join me. A garden space has been created on the deck at the top of the 72 stairs and emerges to claim its place in the world of rooftops.
Beyond the protected space emerges the old and new of Taiwan. Two shiny, stainless steel water tanks stand like promising beckons over the aged air conditioning systems and rusting out sheet metal, cracking tile and dirty brick. Tiny green leaves emerge and begin their climb towards the heavens. Two pigeons take their place above a small area of red, clay roof tiles beyond and look down on me. The bird choice of my not quite related, paternal grandfather brings the security of having been loved unconditionally. They wait patiently for what will happen next.
Traffic in the background is a steady, predictable hum. No blaring horns. No sirens. No persistent car alarms. Warbling birds and tiny chirps are different from the plaintive seagull calls and crow scoldings of my usual life, but somehow familiar and calming. A persistent sweeping of the broom establishes a rhythm. Exercise for a higher purpose. Cleanliness. Godliness.
There is no fengshui in my morning alcove. A creation of the mind where the green astro-turf under the table, the collection of textured, patterned and coloured blankets over comfy couches, butterflied and dragonflied pillows, real and fake plants come together with curios to feed the imagination. The regular inhabitant of this space is not without dark, twisty discoveries and fabrications.
The aforementioned black poster is positioned beside a photo on the beach of a pre-pubescent girl on a beach with a cigarette handing out of her mouth. The image is not one of innocence but of Paradise Lost. On my flight to Taiwan, my viewing pleasure included the movie creation of Mary Shelley’s life. Many were disbelieving that an eighteen year-old girl could have authored such a book as Frankenstein. The bigger discovery is that the girl had already experienced such despair, disenfranchisement and had personal knowledge of the monster within by the time she was 18 years old. The Frankenstein book was made possible by Percy Bysshe Shelley, the poet she loved, her own loving father, a disapproving step-mother and the havoc they wrought with her heart and mind. Her strength was her ability to name it, chew on it and use it for her own purposes.
The paint bucket with clean white paint drips emerges from a hiding place behind a couch. Someone who is able to reach out to put a fresh face on the less than clean and beautiful has sat in the same spot. Imagined the possibility. Re-created a sense of self. Yet, is aware of the monster that lurks beneath the surface and owns it.