Humanity, Unwrapped. And Fanta.

It was love at first sight.

I was twenty-five, in the heart of Eastern Europe. What began as a “set up” by a mutual friend has blossomed into a lasting love affair.

We’ve weathered many storms:  Separation, temptation, disapproving friends  . . .  also diets, cavities and lots of mom guilt. There were days I swore it would never last. Then my eyes would meet its shiny, aluminum exterior, and I’d fall for Fanta all over again.

This is where I ate yesterday. Yep, those are toilet seats.

Recently, I’ve engaged in some mid-life soul-searching, and I’m reevaluating our relationship. It’s orange, carbonated sugar-water, after all. I was young and impulsive, but I’ve changed. I have a different perspective on life, and unfortunately, a different metabolism. I’ve matured. Even my pallet has grown in sophistication.

So, why am I still in this?

Once again I find myself half-way across the world — this time traveling in the opposite direction. Crossing into unknown territory, with all its uncertainly, I long for the familiar. After nearly two decades, with countless oceans crossed, Fanta is just a “constant” I crave. One sweet sip of thirst-quenching goodness and the world feels reliable and right again — even if it isn’t. Its packaging may vary by country and continent, but I can always count on what’s inside. Here in Taiwan, you’ll find the iconic orange can everywhere. You just have to look with intention. If you pause a few moments, you’ll find it — adorned in Chinese characters. Surly it means something glorious, like “Heavenly Orange Blossom.”

“Heavenly Orange Blossom”

So, Fanta with in hand, I’m pausing here for a while. I want to look with intention at the world around me.  I’ll do a lot of staring, since I won’t understand what I hear.  And for one of the first times ever, I’ll do it all with my mouth shut, because  . . .  Mandarin.

Humanity is diverse in its packaging, but strangely familiar once unwrapped. There are glorious narratives unfolding all around me.  I’m hoping to capture some of them in the days that follow.

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