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May and I have been friends since I first arrived to Taipei, and I honestly believe that my experience here would have been less than positive had she not entered my life. Though she's never lived in the West, May has the uncanny knack for being able to help me see things without my red, white and blue-starred glasses. Though we do not speak each other's native language fluently, we've connected on a much deeper level than most.
The first time we met was in 1995 at a local urban planning and design firm in Taipei where we were both working. We really got to know each other when we took a Taiwan delegation to Europe to visit counterpart design firms. A series of truly hysterical moments occurred during that trip - including a major earthquake that took place an hour before our departure for the CKS airport, my boyfriend dropping a bomb on me from halfway around the world about his shocking infidelity, the roof of the Grand Hotel going up in flames (all within the same two hours), and then in Paris, the Taiwanese delegate in our group who passed out while watching Le Moulin Rouge and was hospitalized because of it.
But the one event that stands out most in my mind was waiting in line at the ticket counter of the Louvre.
Being the well-traveled, global professional, museum lover that I am, I had no idea what the Louvre was and wasn't convinced that it was worth seeing even after May kept insisting that it was "one of the most famous museums in the world." We argued about this for awhile, but as we got up to the ticket counter, I turned to her with my executive decision and said, "May, I think I'll just wait for you outside and get some sun", despite the look on her face which read, "Christine, I'm going to kill you".
Months later back in my apartment I was to watch a television documentary on I. M. Pei which evoked quite an interesting albeit private reaction from me. It went something like this, "Christine You Ass".