Lost in Taipei: Chapter 14

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Life Is a Drag

Charlie found himself having the best time of his life as he danced to the rhythmic tunes of Taiwanese pop music alongside Ming. Within the cheerful ambiance of the bar, Charlie felt a sense of security that allowed him to shed his inhibitions and revel in the music without concern for judgment. Every move he made reflected the joy he felt, unburdened by self-consciousness. While Charlie and Ming danced to the beats, Xing got another round of drinks to keep their night’s exuberant momentum going.

As the music transitioned from its fast tempo to a melancholy tune, a wave of sadness suddenly swept through the air. Charlie found himself captivated by the change and stopped his dance in the middle of the dance floor, trying to understand the meaning of this moving song, which spoke about a person’s worth, particularly in love—a message that struck a chord with Charlie.

Observing Charlie’s reaction to this song, Xing uttered, “Isn’t this a haunting song? The artist is Sandy Lam, and the song is called ‘It Doesn’t Matter Who I Am.’”

As the song progressed and its chorus replayed in the background, Charlie found a surprising clarity in understanding the depth of its lyrics: “I think what you said is right. Loneliness wears a person down. It’s the loneliness that causes heartbreak.” 

These words seemed to echo with Charlie as if the song had reached into his psyche and how Charlie felt about his relationship with his ex. Emotions swept over Charlie, or perhaps amplified by the potency of his drinks. Unintentionally, Charlie’s eyes became teary as he felt a connection to the song’s sentiment, moved by its raw truth.

Noticing Charlie’s emotional response, Ming gently approached him with concern. “Charlie, are you alright?” he asked softly. Turning to Xing, he added, “Xing, could you grab some water? A breather might help Charlie.”

“Sure thing, Ming. I’ll grab the water, and you can take Charlie to the lounge area for some air,” Xing reassured.

Stepping into the lounge area, Charlie’s head started to clear, and a wave of embarrassment washed over him as he replayed his emotional reaction on the dance floor. He felt self-conscious about Ming’s concern but knew he needed a moment to compose himself and regain his composure. 

Ming sat beside Charlie and offered him warm reassurance. “Hey, don’t worry about it. Music has a way of touching us deeply sometimes. We’ve all been there.”

Charlie appreciated Ming’s understanding and managed a feeble smile. “Thanks, Ming. I guess I got caught up in the moment.”

Ming nodded. “It happens to the best of us. This song definitely brings out emotions, and luckily this is a safe space to let loose.”

Charlie took a deep breath, feeling a sense of ease with Ming. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s just… that song hit me unexpectedly.”

Ming leaned in slightly, his tone kindly. “Want to talk about it?”

Charlie hesitated for a moment before opening up. “It’s strange, but the lyrics spoke to me. Loneliness, heartbreak… It’s like the song vocalized to some of my hidden feelings.”

With Xing offering water, Charlie was now in the presence of two supportive individuals he had met weeks earlier. The lounge’s cozy environment made him feel more comfortable, encouraging him to share his past with his new friends.

Taking a deep breath, Charlie slowly told stories about his late mother – her kindness, wisdom, and the irreplaceable void she had left in his life when she passed away from cancer. He spoke about their bond, how she raised him as a hard-working single mother, and the memories that kept her spirit alive.

Charlie’s voice grew somber as he mentioned his past relationship with his ex, which had left him feeling broken and untrusting. Charlie recounted the pain of discovering the ex’s unfaithfulness, the heartache that had eroded his confidence and made him wary of new connections.

Ming listened attentively while Xing’s expression mixed with sympathy and caring.

“I’m sorry you had to go through all that,” Ming said quietly. “Losing a loved one and dealing with betrayal, that’s a lot to bear at one.”

Xing also chimed in with sincerity. “It takes time, Charlie. And it’s okay to grieve and let go of your unhappy feelings. We’re here to listen.”

In his typical fashion, Xing’s face lit up with a bright idea to boost Charlie’s spirits. “Guys, I’ve got the perfect plan to lift the mood. How about we go see a drag show? These fabulous drag performers can work wonders and will have us laughing in no time,” he enthusiastically suggested.

Instantaneously, the group exchanged excited glances, sensing a fun night ahead.

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