These two birthday letters were written per special request from Henry’s Taiwanese fanpage, which can be found here. Many thanks to the admins for the opportunity.
Letters from Home: From One Huaqiao to Another
Dear Henry “Yoga Mat” Lau,
Call it procrastination or a quarter-life crisis in the making, but lately I’ve been rewatching a lot of footage from your appearance at KCON last year. Really random stuff, too, like that Final Recipe panel you did with Bobby Lee, or outtakes from that Danny Ahn show where you wrote your name with your butt. It’s weird that I’m poring over shaky fantaken videos when there’s three episodes of Happy Together, two episodes of Hello Counselor, and six gazillion episodes of Real Men that I haven’t watched. I guess that’s what happens when you finally quit K-pop fandom — no matter how you try, you still manage to hold onto the little things.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you sound like a completely different person when you speak English. It’s actually really jarring to listen to you speak Korean or Chinese on variety shows — because no matter how good your Korean or Chinese is, I can’t shake this weird feeling that what I’m watching isn’t really you.
To be fair, I’m pretty sure it’s just a language thing. As a fellow Taiwanese kid who grew up in the States sortakinda speaking Chinese at home, I know the feeling — like you’re half the person you really are when you’re speaking in a language that’s not English. Like the real relief of being able to speak English isn’t that you can finally say exactly what you want to say, but that you can finally be the person that you want to be.
I visit Taiwan frequently these days (because once a year is pretty damn frequent when you’re shelling out $1500 for a plane ticket from the New York to Taipei), but my home is still here in the States. I can speak English whenever I want and know that virtually everyone will understand my words — and therefore, me. It’s hard to think about the fact that you don’t have that luxury anymore. Sometimes when I catch myself being envious of your career and your success, I remind myself of this — that as awesome as it is to be a huge celebrity, nothing quite beats being able to just be yourself.