Chinese Love Notes: When You're Down, Up Is The Only Way

"Where's the bloody invitation letter! You sent it three weeks ago? What did fucking China Post do with it? They said one week! Are they bloody hand-delivering it to Ireland?" I snapped at my boyfriend for the umpteenth time.

I didn't even give him the chance to respond before I went off like a rocket on crack. I ranted to my heart's content, sniffing and wiping hot, salty crocodile tears off my cheeks. Not once did my boyfriend interrupt my rant, not once did he tell me to get a grip, not once did he tell me to shut up, not once did he tell me that I was being unreasonable and that it was hardly his fault that China Post was being slow in delivering the international mail.

When the tears finally got the better of me and the sniffing turned into sobbing, the fish quietly cut in.

"I just printed another invitation letter, I signed it and scanned it, check your mail. Tomorrow I'll go to the post office and post another letter and I'm checking now if I can use DHL. Go wipe your face."

I almost instantly felt bad for my ridiculous, off the chart rant. Blowing my nose foghorn style, I succumbed to my nerves and pleaded with my boyfriend not to be angry with me for biting his head off. A few million sorry's later, the fish cut in again.

"Do you remember how I told you that there are a lot of foreigners in Wuhan where I live?"

Confused by the sudden change of subjected, I nodded and proceeded to wipe my face. My appetite was gone and stabbing the food, I eventually pushed the plate as far away from me as possible.

The fish proceeded: "My mum hasn't seen a lot of foreigners, you know. One day when she came out of my apartment she saw a black man for the first time in her life. It scared her half too death."

I continued to frown in confusion.

"Let me tell you a joke," the fish smiled, "One lovely summer day two Wuhan women were walking in the park, underneath umbrellas naturally, when they suddenly saw two black men coming towards them. One women turned to the other and said: 'The sun in Wuhan is really amazing, isn't it?'"

Involuntarily my frown turned into a grin and that grin turned into uncontrollable laughter. Not only had the fish taken my mind of my troubles by changing the subject by telling me a silly joke, no, he'd also lifted my mood considerably. Once I had managed to calm down again, I glanced at him and at a loss as for what to say, I simply uttered three words: "I love you."

"I love you too, sweetie," the fish replied, "take the scanned copy of the invitation letter to the embassy, it'll be fine." He added and I nodded.

"Okay, I will."

"Good girl."


***


There you have it. In black and white. It's as simple as this. This is why my fish is so amazing and why I can't stop praising him to the point where you're all feeling sick and avoiding my blog like the plague (you wouldn't really do that to me, would you?). It doesn't matter how ridiculous I am, now much nonsense I talk, now insane my accusations are or bad tempered I am. He takes it all and then some and still finds a way to lift my spirits.

In all fairness, I've not really gone of the rails yet and I do hope that I never will. I'm not that deranged, this relationship means a great deal to me and I'd be stupid to ruin it just because I suffer from a bad bout of PMS. That's why sensible women eat chocolate instead of driving their boyfriends to the point of wanting to break up with them. Let's disregard that said chocolate eating will then result in a moan of a different kind. We aren't all perfect, okay?!

Thankfully I manage to stop myself just before the nagging, but still somewhat cute, girlfriend turns a bat-shit crazy bint. The fish really doesn't need to see that side of me. That's for several years down the line, when we've been married for a few years and he's well and truly accustomed to my little escapades. If I bare it all now, he'll never stick a ring on my finger.

Okay, seriously now, I'm really not that crazy. I'm a little temperamental here and there but once I've vented, once I've had my say, all is well again, all is forgiven and forgotten. I know where to draw the line.


***


[Visa Application Counter]

I read the sign for the twelfth time and told myself once more that I was in the right queue. Nervously clutching at the plain, brown envelope with my Chinese visa application inside, I told myself to get a grip, there was no way they would reject my application. I had all the documents, I'd checked them about a million times at home. The application form was complete and signed and there was a brand new passport photo stuck to the first page. I had return flights. There was absolutely no way they were going to say no.

To distract myself I watched a young dad bottle-feed his super-cute baby girl. He caught me staring twice and smiled. I'd like to think that I smiled back at him but I'm not sure, I think my face muscles were frozen solid that morning. I continued to watch the cute Chinese baby girl enthusiastically drink her milk and tuning out the annoying English bloke across from me, who insisted on yelling into his mobile phone for the entire Chinese embassy to hear, I listened to all the Chinese jabber around me instead. I grinned to myself, pleased with how much of all the different conversations I managed to understand and unconsciously continued to edge forward in the queue until it was suddenly my turn to hand over my application.

I willed my hands to stop shaking and handed the visa officer behind the counter my passport and the visa application form along with all the other documents. In true German fashion the documents were in perfect order and I nervously watched the visa officer study each document one by one. There was no way they would reject the fish's scanned invitation letter, they told me it wouldn't be a problem. For a moment I contemplated biting my nails but decided against in the the last minute. Instead I patiently waited for the visa officer to finish reading the invitation letter.

A few minutes later she handed me a pick up form, telling me to pick up my visa in four days. She reminded me not to forget the pick up form or the postal order. I nodded, politely thanked her and grabbing the now empty envelope, I exited the consular office.

On the street I evaded the friendly-looking, polite Chinese granny, who wanted to get me up to speed one one of China's famously banned spiritual groups.

"I'm not taking any chances, I'm not messing with that visa application, I want to see my fish, who knows where their CCTV cameras are pointing to." I mumbled to myself. I marched down the road and pulling out my phone and I speed-dialled my fish. At the same time I also tried to hail down a cab but I was decidedly distracted by my fish answering the phone and excitedly yelled: "Baby, I got my visa, I'm really coming to see you, it's not a dream any more." 

The five Chinese at the bus stop near me heard me too and oblivious to whatever the fish was trying to say (I think he may have been trying to congratulate me) I continued to tell him that my visa was a sure thing. I must have said the same thing close to a million times and instead of letting the poor guy talk, I demanded to speak to my mother-in-law. I yelled at her too, full of excitement and she just laughed. "Take it easy, I know you're coming, I'll see you in February." She replied, unfazed by the news. In my mind, she reacted just like any experienced mother would. So thank you, Chinese mother-in-law, you're really quite awesome. I'm still not going to cross you though, I'm afraid you're going to turn into dragon mom after all.


***


Seven months of uncertainty are finally over. In a little over two weeks I'll be on a flight to Shanghai where my fish will great me with a bunch of roses - he's under strict orders to buy fresh, red roses for our reunion and he promised that he would. He knows better than not to obey that order.

These last few days I've been beyond exhausted. I've been sleeping early and not feeling up anything but lounging about the place, gazing into the distance and watching silly stuff on the TV. I'm not coming down with a bug, I've simply used up all my energy, very last drop of it. I don't think I've ever been this exhausted in my life, this is a very different kind of exhaustion. It almost managed to taint my excitement about seeing the fish again but I refuse to let it get the better of me. I managed to deal with so much shit this past half year, I can control this exhaustion. This girl's a fighter!

The last seven months have slowly but surely eaten away at my very core, all the uncertainty, all the trouble with trying to get my fish a holiday visa to visit me in Ireland, submitting all the documents and more only to receive a refusal a few days before Christmas. I'm so glad it's all over. I'm beyond relieved that there's nothing standing between me and the twenty million hugs and five trillion kisses my fish owes me. 2013 started on a high for me and I absolutely can't wait to board my flight to Shanghai. I don't even care about the 18h journey I have in front me. It's a piece of cake. There's a handsome man waiting for me on the other side of the world. I can give 18h in return for a living, breathing, 3D version of my fish. It's the best deal I've made in my entire life.

In other words, China, I'll see you soon and I can't bloody wait! I'm finally going to meet my fish's entire family, every last relative and all his friends. I'm not even concerned about the fact that no-one in my fish's family speaks English. I can do this, I will make myself understood somehow. I have two years of Chinese under my belt, my fish understands me even when I make no sense and I have the best Chinese dictionary in the history of Chinese dictionaries on my iPhone. Really, what could go wrong?

The worst that could happen is that I get my Chinese customs all wrong. But hey-ho, I'm a laowai gal, I have a lifelong out-of-jail card in that regard. At least I hope I do, at least this time around. Although I do hope I'll manage not to put my foot in too deep.

In other news, I know it's early, but since I don't know whether I'll have the time to blog (I still have a few presents to buy), I wish you a happy Chinese New Year. The year of the snake is coming. Incidentally that's the one animal I hate the most, I'm positively terrified of snakes. There's nothing short of you knocking me unconscious that'll get me into the snake house in a zoo. I'm more of a big bears and large cats kind of gal. The cuddlier the better.