China, April 3, 2000
Ever follow your heart to the end of the Earth?
I am on yet another train, crossing yet another plain. I've watched the
scene slowly change from rice patties and banana groves to wheat fields
and cherry blossoms. It's not Australia for sure and not just because of
the rice patty and cherry blossom scenery. Everyone around me looks
similar and they are all speaking a funny bing-bong wing-wong. Yes, kids,
I'm back in China!
Oui! What am I doing here? Why have I come back to a land I disliked so much the first time around? How can I face the dust of Beijing again, voluntarily? These are good questions I am trying to sort out as the train speeds north form the glory of Hong Kong.
I am heading back to China for a girl. Okay, she's 27 just like I, so I guess "a woman" would be more appropriate, but that line would not be the same. Jingmei, as the name and the photo to the left would indicate, is Chinese, as in Mainland Chinese, PRC Chinese, and just what I told myself I would never fall for: a non-native English speaker or non-Western passport holder.
She is a special woman though. When we met, I felt something I'd never felt before, a feeling that had me emailing all the married couples I knew, asking them what told them they'd found "the one." Even her funny "Please keep in touch," when we parted that first night makes me glow now when I think about it.
Jingmei is definitely not your average Chinese lass. She has a challenging e-commerce job at a leading international bank, which makes my PwC job in Russia seem tame by comparison. With an impressive university record and her current job, she gets invites from top MBA programs constantly, making me a bit envious. I hold no foolish notions that Oxford even knows I exist, much less would actually send me anything more than belly-button lint.
I have yet to meet her family, but she's told 'em of me, and unlike many Chinese families, they are not disappointed their daughter has taken up with a laowai (foreigner). Not happy, probably, for I can't ask for that much, but not against us at least. My folks are their usual cool selves, with both just happy that I have a fixed address again so they can send me all the junk mail I've missed (but none from Oxford!).
Yes, this means that I will be here, in Beijing, for the foreseeable future. Agh! This means learning yet another language, history, and culture while I endure endless "I want to practice my English" encounters. The things I do for love...