I am two years old.
Inside the car is dark.
My mom turns on the lights.
My dad opens the door.
I finally found the entrance to life.
I am four years old.
I woke up to the smell of delicious blueberry and fig pie.
I am trying to sneak up
To grab a handful of candy.
I am six years old.
We carpool to the countryside.
Ready to jump into the pool.
I am chubby, in my one-piece.
I am eight years old.
Waking up by the sounds of gunshots in the air
Is not very pleasant.
But almost getting attacked by a wild pig
What an experience to have.
I’m ten years old.
Claire is snoring above me
And I hate it.
No sleep, at all.
Yawning all day.
Now I am eleven years old.
Nothing has changed.
My skateboarding teacher was my grandpa.
First attempt: absolute fail.
Second attempt: getting there.
Third attempt: success!
Nothing has changed.
The houses are the same.
Some of the names have changed
The names of people and shops.
But the pool hasn’t.
I will be 75 years old.
And I will always see myself
Going to Lerici.
The Child of Romeo and Juliet
I started learning English when I was two.
I’ve lived in Taiwan for my whole life.
I don’t remember the first word I learned.
All my friends speak English.
The languages I know:
It’s easier to speak English
The writing is easier in Italian
Taiwanese is easier when you speak Chinese
Taiwanese is the dialect of Chinese,
What aboriginal people speak in Taiwan.
2 million people in Taiwan —
More than half of them are aboriginal people from the mountains
A few people in my grade are from China
And the rest from Vietnam or the other Asian countries
Taiwan used to be called Formosa
Long time ago, I forgot from which country,
They came and called Taiwan “beautiful island.”
But Verona was my Dad’s hometown.
That’s where Juliet’s balcony was
Every night Romeo used to go under her balcony.
Their parents didn’t like each other,
But they were in love.
I know the story but I never read it.
The first time we went to Italy,
I was very tiny.
He’s told the story many times.
To be both Taiwanese and Italian
Is an odd combination
But I think it’s kind of cute.
My dad’s last name is Speciale
And my mom’s last name is Lin
So my friends call me Specialin.
When I come to America,
I get asked a lot: “Do you live in the neighborhood?”
And I say: “No, I live in Taiwan.”
People are surprised I speak such good English.
Whenever I go anywhere,
I already know what’s going to happen.
When I travel, border control
Checks all my passports
People usually have one passport.
It takes those people 2 minutes,
For me it takes 5 minutes
For my two passports — Italy and Taiwan.
My Italian passport still has my babyface.
My Taiwanese passport is my 10-year-old face.
So then they double-check that it’s actually me.
People behind me will complain
But it’s not my fault.
My parents were just like Romeo and Juliet
Their parents weren’t fighting
But they came from opposite sides of the world,
Which makes me the child of Romeo and Juliet.
I had just finished sixth grade.
My teacher is Miss Dalmonego
Well, she was my teacher…
Until she left to Nepal
She did not look big, strong and powerful
But believe me
Her strength for teaching is as powerful a
Thousand intelligent nerds marching across
She made us wonder
She brought us guests
Who helped us water the flower of knowledge
She brought us from northern Taiwan
To the South
Helping me understand how to ground my roots in my birth country
Her words are as important as petals to a flower
They start small, but as time passes they grow in importance
She encourages us, and holds us up as we grow
Like the stem of a flower
She helps us decorate the structures and vocabulary for our essays
Like leaves on a stem
I’m so thankful for Miss Dalmonego teaching me and supporting me all this way.