Wednesday, September 16, 2015

From the archives: How Ming and I met

view of Shanghai Pudong from the Bund, Feb 2005
I'm leaving China today! I first arrived at the end of February 2005 with CIEE. I spent my initial week doing training (well, it was mostly sightseeing, but I got to practice my Chinese in the markets) in Shanghai before being sent off to Chengde. My first few months in China were the most memorable months of my life. I felt like I was living in a movie. China amazed me and for the first time in a long time I truly felt comfortable in my own skin. It was not long after I arrived that I met Ming, my future husband. I actually kept a diary at that time and posted some of my entries on this blog several years ago. I thought I'd revisit them in a post today. They are pretty embarrassing--I was pretty clueless and maybe kind of a jerk--but I guess that comes with being in your early 20's. Ten years later, it's interesting to look back on my younger self, as well as those days when I first fell in love with both Ming and China.

with Liu Zhi, sweet girl who worked at the gym
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
On Sunday night that guy at the gym (who always attempts to talk to me in English) asked me to wait for him. Of course I didn't because I had to go home and take a shower. Plus, what would we do if we couldn't talk to each other?* But again tonight he pursued. It is actually quite sweet because he gives English his best shot! He told me that I am "a woman good" and that he likes me. Maybe I'll take him out for a beer** with the other foreign teachers sometime. We'll see.

*Don't answer that question.
**Fun fact: Turns out Ming doesn't really drink alcohol.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005
The last couple of days have been amazing. On Monday night my 'friend' was at the gym and friendly as ever. When I finished working out I hung around talking to him and the sweet girl who works there (not sure of her name, but she can speak some English!). My friend went downstairs to shower and I waited around for Nancy*** to finish. Coincidentally, we all ended up leaving the gym at the same time. He, Tao Ming (I now know his name!),**** offered to give me a ride home on his bike. No, not bike as in moped or motorcycle, but bike as in bicycle. Oh shit, I thought. . . I'm going to hang off the back of this thing like all the Chinese girls do.

But, luckily, we just walked. He stopped and bought me a yogurt drink (very popular in China). When we got to my apartment I ran upstairs and grabbed my Lonely Planet phrasebook to help along our conversating. We talked for over an hour. He can read English and is picking it up rather quickly. He asked me about my family and told me about his family and told me he was happy because he was with me. Aww! Oh, and on the walk home we saw some foreigners--which I called "laowai" (which means 'foreigner' but maybe is a little derogatory) and he laughed like crazy. He corrected me, evidently "waiguoren" is a more politically correct term.

Anyways, as we were standing outside, about to say good-bye, it began to rain. So we stood under the doorway of my apartment and he gave me a kiss.

yes, it's me (Chengde, 2005)

***Nancy was the other foreign teacher at the school I worked at and we went to the gym together nightly.
****Ha! No you don't, silly girl. Because his name is actually Zhao Ming! 

More from Wednesday, June 1, 2005
I finished yesterday morning's lesson and guess who was standing outside the door? Tao Ming. He managed to get in the school. I'm not sure how because usually the gate keeper only lets teachers and students in the building. He took me to lunch in a little restaurant by the old outdoor market. He asked me what I wanted, "Chick?" [he asked]. I said chicken was fine. Rice and chicken, after all, sounds safe enough, but in China you never know what you're going to get.

It ended up being every part of the chicken, cut up and cooked in a sauce. I tried picking through it to find the meaty parts (I have a slight aversion to skin and fat, veins and feet.***** Such things don't seem to bother the Chinese). He scolded me for using my hands--a big no-no here. So he picked through the chicken with his chopsticks, finding the meat for me. He told me he would not be at the gym that night because he had to work (he is a train conductor******). I went off to school for my afternoon lessons, disappointed I wouldn't be seeing him again in the evening.

one of my classes at Chengde No. 1 High School, 2005
Shortly after I returned home for the night, there was a knock at the door. . . he took off work to spend the evening with me. He took me to KFC for more chicken. This may sound like a pitiful first date, but KFC is fairly high class dining in Chengde. Then we went to a movie; unfortunately it was in Chinese. Ming went to talk to the manager and the movie was changed. It was also Chinese, "God of Gamblers," but it had English subtitles. I found it to be a typical Chinese film, somewhat crappy, but funny at parts and violent at others. The theater was much different from an American theater. We had our own little cubicle to sit in, very personal! After the movie we walked home and he came up for a little bit.*******

Today he stopped by after lunch and brought me a bag of apples. He walked Nancy and I to the bus. I'm not used to all this attention! Now I am in Beijing. Nancy went off to Qingdao tonight and I am leaving for Guilin tomorrow.

*****I was such a rookie back then. I can now eat a chicken down to the bone.
******He was not and is not a train conductor, but his job does have something to do with trains so I guess. . .
*******Seems like I left out the juciest parts. 

Ming and I, 2006


Autumn said...

He got the movie changed??! Bribery or threats or charm?

I love these stories. Thanks for sharing.

Constance - Foreign Sanctuary said...

I am so happy you posted these journal entries. I was actually disappointed when I came to the end. Did you post more? Oh, love the footnotes as well.

When you were meeting and falling in love with Ming, I was just about to get married [June 10th, 2005].

Hope you had a safe journey to the States. Wishing you all the success and fingers crossed that the transition is an easy one.

Anonymous said...

Great article. I just arrived to the States. I wish you two a safe flight.

Anonymous said...

So, how have your first days back been? :)

I also loved this old diary (and your comments, haha). I also had a kind of blog 10 years ago and it is kind of embarrasing reading it xD

rosieinbj said...

Thanks for your comments! Being back in the US is GREAT. I feel very happy and grateful to be here. The dog is adjusting pretty well too. ;)