2 -6-2. It’s not the name of some fancy cocktail. It’s not a special date or anniversary. It’s not even my first high school locker combination. It is an address. A destination. A not so distant memory of my Formosan life before family and kids came into fashion. 262 was simply the place to be.
My brother and I had been living in Taiwan for about three months when we first heard of 262 Shiang Ping Lu. Actually, at the time we were introduced to the house the address wasn’t even known. It was simply referred to as the house just up the hill from us. Our other housemate had mentioned to my brother and I that two new expats had moved in to the community and were living at the end of the first lane as you entered the village. According to him, they were a couple but he wasn’t sure if they were dating or married. He also told us they were Canadian, very friendly and… nah, better keep that to myself.
I remember seeing the two of them drive by one night as I was exercising in the basketball court near our house. At the time there weren’t any gyms in Hsinchu. I had to work out with what I had. My ghetto version of the World Gym was chin ups in the basketball court, bench presses on a plank of wood leaning against my bed and a nightly jog around the village. But I digress. I was too far away to notice if the newcomers were Canadian or friendly. However, I could see that the gal was snuggled up rather tightly behind the guy on the back of their scooter. I assumed at the very least that they were a couple. And if they were that cuddly with each other, I figured they had to be decent folk. (At least the girl/woman must have been.) I decided that my brother and I should make the effort to introduce ourselves.
So, that Friday night before heading out to The Bar, our pub of choice at the time, my brother and I grabbed a couple of walkers and headed up hill to see if our neighbors wanted to join us for a night of debauchery. I don’t know what I was thinking about as we stood waiting for someone to answer our knocks. I am not sure which of the two answered the door and invited us in. I don’t even remember how long we hung out in their living room before heading downtown for a few drinks. However, what I do remember with the utmost of clarity was that the people whom we met that night were not only Canadian and genuinely friendly, but more importantly, they turned out to be family.
There are few people in the world that you meet and are instantly bonded to for life. Usually there is a sort of courting period before casual friends become close friends. First impressions are of course important; however, it usually takes a while to find out a person’s true colors and decide if they are people with whom you would like to have a lasting, more meaningful friendship. On the other hand, every now and then you meet people who just make sense to your world and are instantly a part of it, no questions asked. The couple from 262 was and still is one such set of friends.
Despite the instant bond that we seemed to share, I am quite sure that it wouldn’t have mattered who had knocked on their door that August evening. Without hesitation or deliberation they simply would have been invited in for a drink or two. That is the type of people this couple was and still is. Although this was the first night we or anyone had heard of 262, it wasn’t long before the word spread and the number became known to many members of the foreign community.
Their door was always open for euchre games, poker games, birthdays, barbecues, Thanksgivings and Christmases. I often found it a little coincidental that 262 Shiang Ping Lu was originally a restaurant during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. Like the restaurateurs of years gone by, this couple had never said no to a guest or a party.
Years passed with no change. Thinking back now I seem to have spent a lifetime in the living room of 262 either shuffling cards, playing Super Mario Cart or just chilling having a beer. However, as their family (and the wild pack of dogs living next door) started to grow it eventually became time to pass the 262 torch to another foreign couple. It was a sweet consolation to see that the keys were given to another set of close friends. It was good to have the house in the family. For another couple of years at least.
While their address has changed a couple of times since their days at 262, this friendly, Canadian couple never has. Even now, as I sit typing these words into the computer, they are busy hosting a poker game or two in the basement of their house. It is also likely that a group of us will end up there for a few drinks tomorrow night after our tenth anniversary whiskey meeting (see Track 49). And with this in mind, I am keenly aware of the fact that although 262 will forever be etched in my brain as the place where my brother and I met our first family members in Taiwan, I realize that it wasn’t the number that made it happen. It was the people behind the door.
Bob Marley was the first CD that I ever heard playing at 262. Quite honestly, for a time, I was pretty sure that it would also be the last. It was the soundtrack to a copious amount of euchre evenings and weekend warm-ups.
One of the many amazing songs on the Legend CD is One Love. Its lyrics seem to epitomize our Taiwan family. We are comprised of Canadians, French Canadians (apparently there is a difference), Americans, South Africans, Namibians, English, Irish, Scottish and of course Taiwanese. Our heritage also brings us back to such countries as Poland, Goa, China and Trinidad. We have dark skin, olive skin, tan skin and white skin. There are Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Atheists. However, as different as our backgrounds may be we share a love for life and (I hope I am not only speaking for myself) each other.
People are more than their religion, race, color and creed. They are and forever will be — people. Open your doors to them, play a game of euchre with them, and let your family grow. One love, y’all!
One Love youtube link