Living in Perth, Western Australia in my late teens, one day, in the public Conversation Room at the language school where I attended my English classes, I met Linda, a lady who was also from Taiwan. We clicked straight away and became very good friends.
Between 37 and 18, yes, Linda and I had a noticeable age gap. I have always preferred hanging out with and befriending people who are older than me as I see wisdom in them.
Linda’s signature ensemble was a white silk shirt and a pair of tailored blue pencil pants. She wore a bob hairstyle and never any jewellery at all, a true minimalist when it came to personal styling.
I was fascinated listening to her stories, mostly her love stories. From what she shared with me, I knew that she had lived an interesting and fulfilling life before marring an Australian guy.
“You know? I was deeply hurt by love.” Linda told me this while her pride outshone her sadness.
In my 18-year-old mind, I assumed that Linda was finally finding peace and security with her much older husband and a considerably quieter life in Perth. I also assumed this would be her perfect escape from that one key disappointment which was her previous love life.
What Linda often said to me was, “You should always invest in some top quality white shirts. Silk ones are the best!”
Back then I was happy enough with my white cotton shirts, they were affordable for a teenager. ‘Aren’t they all the same?’ I asked. “No, once you wear top quality shirts, you will know what to go for.”
I must admit that Linda looked classy and sexy in her soft; floating silky white shirts!
I had stayed at Linda and her husband’s suburban house over several weekends. We shared joy; tears and laughter while Linda’s husband kept a friendly distance from us. ‘It must be the language barrier!’ I thought, therefore, I didn’t pay too much attention to the situation.
During my visits, Linda also let me check out her wardrobe and I found five white silk shirts and three tailor made trousers – in different shades of blue. She was indeed a minimalist.
One day I turned up at our language school as usual and I did not see Linda there at all. I called her, her home phone was disconnected (this was pre-mobile phone time). Later on, I was told by one of Linda’s classmates that she and her husband had moved to the outback.
This news was so sudden to me that I was overwhelmed by the shock. Why hadn’t she told me she was leaving?? I guess that I will never find the answer…
Recently, I was taking advantage of Sydney’s summer sale to purchase another simple white shirt to match my newly altered vintage skirt.
When I was touching; feeling and comparing the different fabrics of different white shirts, Linda’s voice: “You must go for the top quality!” was echoing in my head once again.
Where are you now and how’s life treating you Linda? I miss you and I want to dedicate this article to you and our friendship.
Picture above features a 19-year-old me wearing my white cotton shirt.
Photo credit: Tsong-Chii, Lynn.
Post film scan edit: Kent Johnson.