Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Going back home. These words sound awkward to me, as the day of my departure to Taipei is coming near. I can’t find any other turn of phrase. Maybe “I’m returning to my flat in Taipei”. Taipei has been my home for the past four years now, even if I hold no official paper or resident permit – just a tourist, that getting paid for any projects means I have to find a helpful and trustworthy friend who would be willing to receive the money for me, even if the lease of my flat isn’t under my own name. Whenever I travel, home becomes a concept I find difficult to connect to. I only know I have a flat with my belongings there. Having lived my whole life in Paris, I always come back with great joy, and find this sense of strong(er) familiarity with my home city. However the longer I live abroad, the more now it feels like visiting a familiar film set, saying hello the former colleagues, film crew, the secretary… and with the next scene, the setting changes. My limit is three weeks. Beyond that, old roots begin to strengthen and leaving Paris becomes more painful, although all sense of yearning just vanishes as soon as I’m on the plane to a new destination. Survival instinct, one may call it…

My working session with Karen during the Jolly Season will result in my coming back to Paris sooner than I expected. She does know that my presence is highly needed, especially by my parents who do not see many people anymore, save for a handful of my father’s friends.
“Let’s say that coming back next month would be on a professional basis and I would pay for the flight” Karen said.
I welcomed the idea. I have no definite plan. My father originally wanted me to come back to Paris for Chinese New Year then fly to Vietnam with my parents for what may be their last trip to their homeland - March being the best season to go to Hue. My mother’s constant mood swing makes my presence more and more crucial. I seem to be the only person in the family who can handle her without much drama.
But that will not happen. A commission for an orchestral piece that my father was expecting to be validated last December got postponed. The people involved were caught in other projects and ‘forgot’ my father, probably unaware they were of the consequences if they didn’t act in time. No money, no trip.
Maybe this autumn, in November, when my chamber music festival takes place?
“I want to go to Hue to take care of your grandfather’s house, but November is the rainy season.” My father told me. My mother talks more of visiting Taipei. “Vietnam doesn’t really interest me anymore. I no longer feel connected” she recently told me. “I would like to go another time to China! Or Taipei!” And there she would start talking about those novels by Quynh Dao, how she can picture the life in Taipei from all the books she has read, even though she is aware those took were written decades ago and life in Taiwan must have changed a lot since then. Did she replace the longing for her childhood with another imaginary place? Would she really be able to enjoy traveling?
No Vietnam but I will still come back to Paris and celebrate Chinese New Year with them, to my parents’ greatest joy. Karen of course is happy to (largely) contribute to the homecoming as well as having me near to help and guide her in her work.
The thought of going back again in just six weeks is pleasant however, despite the fact that that any time spent in Paris is a time when I cannot work. I had foolishly believed I could make some time to work on this new chamber piece. Time in my hand I had indeed, but the spirit wasn’t there. Ulysses had kindly given me access to his flat while he was in Taipei for year end festivities, but I could barely scribble down more than a few bars. And I fear that I won’t be working much more once I’m back in Taipei, as Jan will arrive on the same day and stay for a week. The plan? Much less about sightseeing than shooting a music video for him, a request he made a few weeks ago in one of his emails.

Nothing seems well prepared, but my intuition tells me that the only way is to let myself be carried by the flow and all will be fine eventually.

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