Peer Review by rwong (United States)

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Street View

By: JMkittycat


PROMPT: Heart Places

    Tiny, insignificant, an island in the middle of the sea. Somehow, though, whenever I see a map, my eyes are instinctively drawn to that dot southeast of China. At first glance, there is nothing special about it. Just another landmass. The country I've had to research over and over again for school projects. 
    Adjust the magnification, and look again. A green crescent, tree-covered mountains, some urban areas. Surrounded by blue, endless ocean. Formosa, its Portuguese name. Meaning beautiful. 
    If you zoom in once more, you can see the capital city. A squiggly mess of roads covering the landscape. Most prominently, colorful lines—brown, green, blue, red, orange. But those aren't streets. They're the metro system, which somehow holds some of the strongest memories—excitement at entering a station for the first time in a year, impatience while my aunt refills my card's balance, the familiarity of the music that sounds before the metro arrives, fascination when looking out the windows, relief when re-entering the cool, air-conditioned buildings. My favorite form of transportation, a web that extends over the entire city. So often used that I can still remember many of the stations' names, I can still picture the view from the windows, I can still picture the map in my mind. 
    Pinpointing one particular station, following the bus route to one particular stop, you soon arrive at an unassuming hill next to a shaded park with a myriad of mosquitos. Up the hill—beyond a residence of a former president, along the sloping street, past many other houses, and finally around a corner, in a small street, next to my aunt's house—my maternal grandparents' home. I usually spend most of my time around here—taking walks with my extended family; visiting convenience stores to buy candy, the smell of tea eggs in the air; purchasing bubble tea, red bean cakes, and other unhealthy foods; walking to the library with my cousin and my aunt to escape the heavy heat and humidity for a while; going to the stationery store I could spend eternity in, just browsing and sometimes buying school supplies. 
    Every few weeks, I take the long trip to my paternal grandmother's apartment. My dad picks me up, and we end up at the front gates of my grandmother's apartment building—the one with a white rock in front of it—next to the art school where my grandfather taught, many years ago. I still recall the feeling of the wooden floorboards against my feet, the slightly-stale smell of my grandmother's piano room, the antique instruments hanging on the walls, and most of all, the amazing view from my favorite part of the apartment—a small raised platform surrounded by glass, revealing the scenery outside. From there, the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010 is sometimes visible, reduced to a mere string of lights, blinking in the distance. 
    I never really missed this place before I lost it. Every year, I was reluctant to go on the plane, reluctant to endure those fourteen hours of stuffy air travel, reluctant to return to the humid stickiness, reluctant to endure the sweltering heat, reluctant to expose myself to mosquitos, reluctant to leave my house and my routine. But those are small prices to pay in exchange for seeing family. For the sense of excitement, when presents are opened. For my family's joy, when seeing us for the first time in a year. For the days of simply doing nothing, sitting on the couch and reading a book, trying to stay cool. When it was time to leave, I always took it for granted that I would come back the next year. But then, there was no reason for me to think the chance would suddenly be taken away. Now, I am left with only the Street View on Google Maps, "walking" the streets and passing by the places I used to be able to go into. But none of it is real, and all of it is outdated, pixelated, unreachable. 


Message to Readers

Please review if you have any suggestions! I'm sorry that my sentences are all so long (it's a habit of mine). Also, don't hesitate to be critical with word choice and grammar. Thank you for reading, and have a nice rest of your week.


Peer Review

I love how nostalgic this piece is—it's clear that you truly miss this place. I especially love the fact that you zoom in from the largest picture (as if you're looking at a globe) and slowly shrink, and this helps to tie in to the ending about how you only get to look at it through Google Maps, since it's taken away from you.


Nostalgia (look above) and longing to return to "home." Your detailed descriptions of what you do in each place really help to make it seem like i'm standing there with you, in those places with you. Additionally your use of parallel structure just further emphasizes that (lol look at the comment in your last paragraph ;D)


Reviewer Comments

well written, beautiful piece! my comments are just suggestions—don't feel obligated to take them! good job!!