Dear China

Dear China,

Look how far we’ve come? I came to you an excitable and semi immature 23 year old. Now 11 months later, I’m leaving you a slightly jaded (but wiser), adaptable 24 year old. I’ve learned a lot from you, China. I’ve learned to trust my instincts, be more assertive and be more independent than I ever was before.

I have had some really fantastic times with you China. To name them all would take me ages, so I’ll just name a few.
1.) My trip through the South West with my friend seeing a more natural part of you.
2.) Countless nights staying out so late that the sun was up when I stepped outside, and never regretting one moment of it. (Well ok, that one time .. That was kinda embarrassing).
3.) Stuffing my face with countless noodles, dumplings, rice cakes and whatever food looked both inedible and edible.
4.) Meeting such fantastic people who I’ll never forget all because of you.
5.) Feeling like a celebrity at times, with my students and just walking down the street.

Now China, don’t get a big head, like I have now thanks to you. I don’t think your perfect. We have had our ups and downs.
1.) Like when I try and do a simple task at the bank that ends up being just miles upon miles of red tape and paperwork for no good, sensible reason. Why must you stamp everything 3 times?! What does that achieve?!
2.) Or those times when I don’t want to be a “celebrity” and I would really appreciate it if you stop taking blatant photos of me. I can actually see you, with your phone two feet away from my face. I’m not blind.
3.) Or when you try and scam me because I’m a foreigner and you think it is ok because of that. I’ll call your bluff, China taxi driver. Call the cops. Do it, I know I’m right.
4.) Or when I’m in line somewhere and your cutting in front of me while pushing me from behind as if that is somehow going to make the gigantic line we are in go any faster. Newsflash. It’s not. You have millions upon millions of people. Stop touching me. I’m not in the mood.
5.) Most of all, I think the time you spat on me was the lowest point in our relationship. It was so new, and I was so excited about us. But then you had to go and spit a big black (well I suppose technically it was clearish green, but I don’t really like to think about it) mark right on our budding relationship.

In fact China, you have taught me one very, very important thing. It is OK to think that a place isn’t perfect. When I traveled before, I never wanted to admit that a place wasn’t perfect. I always wanted to believe that every place I visited was amazing, but they weren’t. Some places are kinda shitty, and in some places some shitty things happen to make you dislike that place. But that is ok. You don’t always have to love every place you go, China, you taught me that. (Although, I do think you should always try and see the good things everywhere you go. Even if you don’t like a place as a whole, there have to be some good things about it!) Not because you were the only shitty place I have been to. Not that I’m calling you shitty, but you know… sometimes you get in a mood and really piss me off. But you were the place that made me realize that it is ok to say, ‘yeah I don’t want to go back to that place.’

But don’t worry, China, I’m sure I’ll come back to you eventually. There is so much of you I haven’t seen yet! But I think that maybe we could use a break.
Before one of us says or does something we might regret.

I don’t regret for one second coming to you, China. I really will miss you. But you know what I miss more? I miss sitting on the back porch on a Sunday morning with my parents and a cup of freshly brewed coffee, staring out at the back yard where I grew up. I miss laying on my tiny, dwarf bed with my cat asleep on my chest. I miss taking my dog for walks at the damn, and endlessly looking for the tennis balls she loses. I miss hanging out with my friends in the basement (which, I’m convinced, will always be the place to go). I miss home. Because as much as I like to wander, and as much as I can’t wait to find that next place to pack up my bags for, my true home will always be good ol’ Ohio. And it is time to go home.

So, China, my bags are all packed. My flight is booked. I’m sitting at a hostel in Shanghai, drinking my last Tsing Tao beer with you and tomorrow morning I’ll board that flight home. I can’t wait. I have a new job to start when I get home (eeeeee, pause for freak out!), a best friend’s wedding to go to, a grandmother to spend time with, and a new chapter to begin.

Thanks, China, for being one of the greatest, and most complicated, times of my life.

Until next time, China, never forget,
Adventure is out there, so never stop exploring, but don’t forget where you came from.

XO,
C

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