Chinese Love Notes: The LDR

I haven't dedicated a whole blog post to my darling other half in quite a while, apart from the occasional mention. I figured Christmas was a nice time to rectify that.

This year Christmas kind of blows.

My mother was supposed to come and visit me but she decided to cancel the entire trip...for ridiculous reasons I'd rather not get into otherwise I will have to rename this post from "Chinese Love Notes" into something not quite so light-hearted. Swiftly moving on...

Another reason why my Christmas kind of blows is because I'm still waiting for my fish to get his VISA to come and visit me. On the bright side, his passport is at the embassy. But there's still no VISA stamp inside. Again. This blows. A lot.

It's been more than six months since we last saw each other. I can't decide whether it's got easier to bear not having my fish around or harder. There are moments where it's simply unbearable to even just think about him not being around and then there are moments where I forget all about him not being around. Those are usually the moments when we're video chatting and he's making me laugh.

Somehow I find it hard to think about anything when we're together in our two-dimensional world. I'd give anything to make this world a three dimensional one. Hopefully soon. I do have an plane ticket to China, I just need to sort out my holiday VISA in early January. It's just such a pity that I haven't had the chance to show my fish my world yet. He really wants to come over to see me and spend some time with me. Is that really too much too ask for, dear Irish Embassy in Beijing?!

I knew this relationship wasn't going to be easy when I agreed to jump into it head first but I don't regret it. Saying yes to my fish was no mistake. I've no doubt that he's the love of my life. I have doubts about a lot of things but not that. He makes me laugh, dammit. Like really laugh. Until my belly hurts and the happy tears stream down my eyes and I beg him to stop. He doesn't. He loves the sound of my laughter and he knows how to get what he wants. Incidentally, I too love the sound of his laughter. There's something really amazing about being able to make my fish laugh even though I often times have to consult a dictionary to cut a hole into the language barrier between us.

Although, to be quite honest, there isn't much of a language barrier between us. We understand each other perfectly. He miraculously understands anything I say, even when it doesn't seem to make any sense to my own ears. Sometimes I do wonder how my fish can stand me ruining this beautiful language that he's grown up with and that I've been learning for a little under two years. Then again, that's love. He doesn't just put up with it, he has the utmost patience and willingly teaches me. He's currently studying the HSK Guide so he can help me study. If that's not devotion then I don't know what is.

I whole-heartedly love being in love with a the fish. As nauseating as this may sound to your ears. He simply is the sweetest. I don't ever want to date a Western guy ever again - they suck, sorry, but they do. Friends yes, gladly, but in the love department we are entirely incompatible. Then again, I know I won't have to because I have no plans to leave my fish. Yeah, I know, honeymoon phase of the relationship and all. I'm quite confident this honeymoon phase is going to last for quite some time. My fish is a bit of a romantic, I've no doubt that he'll come up with a million things to keep me entertained and interested in him. Not that he needs to try especially hard to keep me interested. He's handsome, I'm not letting him off the hook. (I'm not really that shallow, I just like to make you all jealous.)

Mr Romance comes out with the sweetest things without even being asked. The other day I was teaching him the difference between a potato and a tomato. For some strange reason he keeps confusing the two in English so I used some realia to get the message across. Following my explanation he changed the subject and decided now that was good time to tell me that he loves me. Either he's naturally apt at talking romantic nonsense in Chinese or he's been spending his lunch breaks studying a guide on "how to woo your Western girlfriend who speaks a little Chinese". He's even cute on demand although that's not quite as much fun. He's sincere though and that's all that counts.

I don't know why but writing about the fish somewhat cheers me up. My life isn't all that glamourous, I work from 8-5 everyday apart from weekends and most evenings are spend with housework, studying, procrastination and/or occasionally spending some time with my friends. The fish brings a little bit of exotic laughter into the dull greyness that seems to perpetually cover Ireland in winter and any other season. Although today the sky's actually blueish with some cute, fluffy white clouds. No wind as far as I can tell but I'm sure it's cold outside so I'm not even going to attempt to set a foot outside. Besides, I got a big pot of coffee that needs tending to and chocolate from Germany that needs to be eaten.

I've no plans for a Christmas dinner of any kind, cooking for one has never been my cup of tea. Although I did go into the bother to make a big bowl of tossed salad yesterday which seemed to first amuse my fish (who cracked somewhat X-rated jokes about the cucumber and the foil that I'd wrapped around it) but somewhere around the time that I was cutting the tomatoes he fell asleep. If merely watching me work wears him out than I wonder what he'll be like when I actually demand that he cleans the dishes after I finish cooking. He seems to be under the notion that I will help him... I guess we'll be going out for dinner a lot on my next trip to China.

Then again, what with his mother already having told all the family and all her friends that her son is bringing his girlfriend home for Chinese New Year, I think I'll actually be spending three weeks solid eating out. It's unreal how many people have asked the fish and me out for dinner already and I'm not even there yet. We'll probably have to arrange breakfast, lunch and dinner dates to accommodate everyone. If anyone would like to sponsor me for a gym membership I'd be much obliged. I think I need to lose about 15kg so I can eat guilt-free over the Chinese New Year period. Then again I could always demand that I get dumplings and chicken feet for every meal. I'll always eat these guilt-free, no matter what time of the day it is. I wonder if I'll be sick of them afterwards...

You probably guessed it. I'm due to meet my family in law pretty soon. Don't worry, I'll keep you updated about it, I'm sure it'll be a funny tale. I do wonder if they'll understand my Putonghua and there's also that blasted Wuhan dialect that I can't really figure out just yet. Apart from various phone calls, it will be the first time that I get to see them all face-to-face in 3D. I've seen plenty of pictures. So far I'm only a little worried but the fish has assured me that everyone loves me and can't wait to meet me. I've therefore decided that I'll leave the freaking out until the evening before. Let's see how much time my fish needs to run out of his apartment and down to the nearest take-away to get a portion of emergency dumplings. Thankfully my iPhone has a countdown app. I'll keep you posted on the result.

What with my upcoming trip half-way across the globe to meet my in laws, I decided to turn the whole experience into a series to share the experience. I've no real idea what to expect, apart from that I'll probably be asked ten million questions, scrutinised from top to bottom and thoroughly inspected by everyone in the family to determine whether I'm a suitable daughter in law and why on earth my fish decided to date a foreign girl when he was never interested in them before.

My dad is a little bit easier going there. He's convinced that as long as I'm happy everything else is my decision. Although it's evident that his smitten with his son in law. He's making an effort to learn a bit of Chinese to at least cover the basics. His pronunciation mishaps remind me of my own first tentative steps on my journey to the east. I don't think my dad will ever pick up enough Chinese to hold his own in a conversation but I'm floored by the effort he's making.

Anyway, I'm sure when he finally gets to meet my fish's dad they'll communicate without words. A cigar and a third man for a game of skat and there won't be any language barrier. My fish's mum will probably take over the kitchen and the fish and I will be banned from the there to give her some space - it's a small kitchen. Suits me. This is me dreaming up the perfect meeting, by the way. I wonder why I have no idea what meeting my fish's parents will be like...

I'm convinced that meeting the in laws will be a big deal and while I'm looking forward to it I also want to know how it will change our relationship. I mean, we both know where we want to take the relationship -it's probably the worst kept secret in the history of relationships- but I do hope the fish's parents will love the three dimensional version of me as much as they appear to love the two dimensional version they have seen, courtesy of the fish. He's been praising me so much that I'm slightly worried that I won't be able to live up to the expectations.

Meanwhile, until it all happens, the fish and I have no choice but to continue our tiresome long-distance relationship. Just how many virtual kisses can you send your other half before cracking up in frustration about not being able to kiss the real thing? I should be happy though. The fish generally devotes all of his evenings to me unless he has to go out for a boring business dinner where he's forced to drink until he's sick. Don't ask. Some aspects of Chinese culture I'll never understand, no matter how open-minded I am about it.

You know, I think if I can deal with more than six months of being separated from my fish, there isn't much else that can come between us. Over 9,300 kilometres is a pretty big thing between two people. If this is some kind of grand test by some higher power to find out whether I deserve the fish, then I wholeheartedly intend on proving everyone that I can do it. The fish can, there's no reason why I can't.

There's a wonderful array of things LDR couples can keep themselves occupied with, in fact I even found a website with over 100 ideas and activities for couples who are in a long distance relationship. Sadly that website does not take into account Western girls in a relationship with a Chinese guy who speaks very little English and can't access most of the fun websites the web offers. Most websites don't take that into account. They don't even take Western guys dating Chinese girls into account.

Things like for example sending each other naughty stories, getting married online and playing fun online games are all things we can't do because my fish has no access to any of these websites. If I want to share a fun video with my fish I'll have to make sure it's available on Youku. If it isn't I would have to either upload it myself -providing it complies with the Chinese censorship laws- or video call my fish to show him the YouTube version. Slow internet connections or connections that frequently crash as well as iPhone apps that don't play along add to the strain of it all.

I tell you, not knowing a word in Chinese is the least of my problems. I can make myself understood one way or another but I'm powerless against the Great Firewall of China, slow internet connections and a boss that makes my fish work close to twelve hours a day, seven days a week.

There's a ton of things I could add to this list but I'm actually in a really good mood today. My fish video called to accompany me while I opened my Christmas presents -although he was somewhat miffed that I didn't listen to him about the order I should be opening the presents in- and then he continued to accompany me until he absolutely could not keep his eyes open any more  I promptly fell asleep alongside him. Cute, huh? Simple things like this make my day. I really am a very easy going girlfriend. ;-) As long as I get what I want, which is my fish.