China, I miss you!

A happy go lucky sakura girl in Dublin's Stephen's Green Park.

It's been a bit over two months since I've come back from my epic China adventure over the Chinese New Year and since I have come back every day pretty much sucked a bit more than the day before.

I've had some good days but if I am perfectly honest, I forced myself a great deal to make those days qualify as "good days". My friends have been nothing but accommodating, offering me a listening ear, dinner dates, afternoons out, a couch to sleep on or drinks and dancing. I enjoyed all those "good days" but they only took the edge of how miserable I actually feel inside. To be quite honest, I would like to curl up in bed with the little panda bear my fish gave me for my birthday last year, and tell the world to just fuck off. Oh and I'd like a truckload of tissues to keep me going while I cry.

I've been seriously depressed since I've come back from China. Saying goodbye to my fish did not go down well and all the other shit that the year of the snake was so adamant to throw at me with all its might. Work troubles, family troubles, arguments with my fish and just in general big black holes of uncertainty. I've never craved dumplings as much as I did these last two months. My friends have stopped asking me how I am, they now ask if I want to eat dumplings.

At this stage I've probably shed enough tears to add another ocean to our planet, or at least that's what it feels like.

I thought spring and the somewhat warmer weather would make me feel better but the influence of the pretty pink spring blossoms all around me, the sunshine and the chance to sip a cup of hot tea outside while jabbering away on the phone without the risk of frost bites and pneumonia - it all lasts only minutes and then I am back to feeling miserable and empty. I feel lost without my fish and my second family in a country where I barely manage I follow 50% of an ordinary conversation (or so it feels like) and where I perpetually feel lost about everything. Accompanying my mother in law and my boyfriend to the supermarket gave me a headache because I had no clue what half of the stuff was. I even pointed at a barrel full of loose rice grains and asked my fish what that was. I felt so stupid when I looked at the sign after he pointed at it.

Posing between two fish at Wuhan Happy Valley.

A fish, right where he belongs.

Half of the time I don't even understand how I feel so utterly comfortable in a country where I can't even take the train without help or perpetually need to keep my Pleco dictionary open to make myself understood. I guess home really is where the heart is.

Waiting for some hot bubble tea.

The fish's and my relationship has hit an all-time low. We've been arguing so much over the last few weeks, it's not even funny. Compared to the quarrels we have, like any other couple, when we're actually together, this new side of us is heart-breaking, mental and a big contribution to my present depression. I hate arguing, I hate conflicts, each time my fish and I quarrelled while I was in China, I tried everything to make it up to him afterwards, whether it was my mistake or not. I'm the kind of silly day-dreaming girl who likes to lie in her boyfriend's arms, watch some television and enjoy the warmth and protectiveness that being around my fish gives me. Instead we have been exchanging hateful words, no words at all or words that ended in tears on my part and him not answering his phone on his part. I don't even know how to define our relationship at the moment but it makes me cry. I'm hurting and I know he is too even if the idiot is pretending to be a brave fool by not showing it.

This is what cute is. Looking at this picture, at those eyes, it makes my heart melt. I'd give him the world if he asked me to, that look I cannot resist.

I always knew that this long-distance relationship wasn't going to be a piece of cake, that it would probably be the toughest challenge I've ever taken on on my life. We miraculously managed more than seven tough months apart and I have no idea how we managed that. My only guess is that we focused on being in love more than being apart and we never ever allowed ourselves to mistrust the other. I still explicitly trust my fish. If I didn't, I may as well just go right ahead and kiss this relationship goodbye just about now. Don't get me wrong, I'm dead jealous. I'm not the "Where have you been and with whom and why didn't you call me at eight to say you'd be five minutes late?" kind of jealous but I am jealous. Before I knew that nearly all of my fish's cousins are female I was regularly seething with jealousy whenever I saw him talk to a woman on Weibo. My fish laughed so much when I first told him. By that time I had already found out that I'd been jealous of his cousins but a girl can't help herself. The fish is my man and the idea that someone else can be next to him when I can't eats me up inside.

My man. I can still feel his hand on my waist when I look at that picture.

When I came back from China at the end of February I realised pretty quickly that since my fish and I already successfully managed to be apart for a long time, the next challenge for us wouldn't be to go through the same thing again. No, this time we're actually fighting for our relationship. I spent most of March sick with jet-lag and regular stomach cramps from missing my fish (alongside other real life worries) so, despite knowing that we would have some tough challenges ahead, I chose to hide in a bubble of blissful ignorance. So what? We were apart again. Piece of cake, I thought. We did it before, we can do it again. But instead, I let all my frustration about not being in China with my fish eat me up inside and eventually I lashed out and my fish got the full brunt of it. He wasn't entirely innocent and triggered some of my rage but he probably got more than he deserved.

Needless to say, he did not appreciate it nor did I appreciate my inability to be a little bit wiser and grown up about it all. But I'm not perfect and when he didn't understand my frustration (or refused to share his own to add to my frustration which made perfect sense but I just couldn't see that sense) I continued to lash out, like a mad woman possessed. I hate that we had our first big argument with both of us being a million miles apart. Whenever we bickered while I was in China we could at least make it up to each other. I had the 3D version right in front of me and I could drag him to another room, snog him senseless and apologise for my own stupidity and criticise him for his lack of understanding. Making up is much easier when you're in the same country, same city, same apartment. When there is a million miles between you and your loved one it feels like you've never really made up, like all the frustration never really went away. I'm sick to death about looking at pictures of my fish or re-watching the silly little video clips I shot of him while in China.

I miss you, baby.

I miss the most blatant things. I miss watching my boyfriend play Mahjong even though I haven't managed to get the hang of the game. I know how to play it but I can't quite grasp the finer points of the games' logic. While I was in China I regularly fell asleep watching my boyfriend play Mahjong. I couldn't stand it, I got annoyed when he spent an entire afternoon playing Mahjong, while I just sat there, watching, playing with my phone. Now I want nothing more than to sit next to him and watch him play, cheering him on whenever he wins. I want to ask stupid questions and drive him crazy about rearranging the tiles because I can't stand it when they're not in order. Upside down is the worst, it drives me mental, followed by crooked.

I want him to pick a piece of fish meat out of a big bowl in the centre of a big table at a big restaurant and give it to me after only after checking that there are no bones in it. I want to walk - hand in hand - to the restaurant, which is only two blocks away from my fish's house and where every waiter and every waitress wears a track suit because the restaurant has a weird sports theme. If you ask me, if I was the boss, my waitresses would be wearing hot, white tennis uniforms and the waiters would be dressed in basketball tricots. At least that's hot but not as degrading as that Chinese restaurant that forced its waitresses to wear bikinis to work.

Did I mention that I miss you?

I miss the most blatant things about being together, I don't even want anything special. I'd be happy to just sit on the couch next to my fish, close enough to take his hand should I want to. Or if I could make a special request I'd like to walk down Shanghai's Bund with him, just the two of us, together, him laughing about me complaining about all the Chinese who are looking at us and me pointing them all out and proving him right until he shuts up and admits that his wife is right and he is wrong, like any good husband should (within reason!).

I miss my fish a little more everyday. It's become ridiculously hard. I wake up having nightmares of me having accidents and not remembering who the fish is which leave me feeling cold and alone with a funny portion of weird in the pit of my stomach. Other times I am forced to watch how someone shoots him down and then adds the rest of my adopted family and my family to his crazy manhunt. It's only dreams but they stick and I wish they would just go away. I have had it with this long distance stuff, with this not being together, with the arguments and whatnot.

I'm heading home to Germany in a few days and it's driving me crazy that I have to go there without my fish. This past year I thought that the next time I go home I would be going home with him in tow, now it's once again only me. I can't bear it!

Yes, he really is that cute. Always.

If you didn't know, I quit my job last week and I am taking a month long sabbatical to focus on making some time for my family and on making my dreams come true. I am tired of my dreams being just a bunch of dreams and since I got, what could well be the opportunity of a lifetime for me, at the beginning of April (I will disclose more when the time is right), I have decided that it is time for me to go full steam ahead and do what I believe is right for me.

Apart from missing my fish so badly that it's driven me to the edges of hell, I also miss his family. I miss his mum, his dad and everyone else. All the uncles and aunts and cousins and the nephew and nieces. Chinese New Year was mental and crazy and exhausting and I feel like the only time we were ever alone was at night, in bed, but I miss the buzz of it, I just miss having such a big family. I miss the food, the simplicity of life in Tianmen, the great street food I got to snack on, the laughter, all the mishaps I made, all the silly questions I asked and all the jokes we shared. Heck, I even miss being sick. I miss giving out to my fish for speaking the local Tianmen dialect, leaving me to understand nothing.

I caught on eventually, but my understanding of the dialect isn't great. After my initial frustration I actually having loads of fun guessing. Funnily enough it was my mother in law who I understood first. She generally speaks Mandarin with me but occasionally she would forget and just speak Tianmen dialect when asking me something or telling me something. I don't know why but most of the time I understood what she wanted me to do and it gave me a fuzzy and warm feeling. (It's right up there with the feeling I had when I walked into the kitchen to boil some water and found my mum making dinner. I was nosey and when she put her hand on my arm and told me that no matter what I want to eat, she'd make it for me, I wanted to cry. For me, that meant more to me than her telling me that she loves me or that I'm like a daughter to her.) After that, every time we went to visit some of mum's or dad's friends I would proudly tell everyone that I understand my mum's dialect but that I can't understand my husband which was always met with much laughter.

My family.

I miss feeling foolish for not understanding, I miss feeling lost or clueless and I miss falling for my family's little jokes and my fish's mean little tricks. There are too many things I am missing and too little things I have to balance it all out. The problem with having met all of my fish's family is that I'm now not only head over heels in love with my fish but also with my fish's entire family. That means that not only am I without my partner but I am also without my family. I have been living in Ireland for eight years, it's not like I have no experience of how to live without my family and be independent but this just isn't the same. This is a whole different level, a level I cannot deal with let alone comprehend.

I don't think my fish even remotely understands how I feel about his family and how much they all mean to me. I am sure one day they will drive me crazy or we will have some stupid, upsetting little disagreement but isn't that what happens in the best of families? Isn't being able to withstand all that the true meaning of the world "family"? These people and I don't share the same blood but I feel they are my family just the same. They have the same place in my heart as my dad does or anyone else in my family. It was so easy to fall in like with them when the fish told me about his family and when I met them all I just fell in love. I instantly clicked with one of his cousins and you could have sworn we've known each other all our lives. Another cousin is an English Teacher and she loves 王力宏. If it wasn't fate for the two of us to become friends, family, well then I don't know.

I'm tired of being without my family. Germany doesn't feel like home. I miss my family and friends over there like crazy but I miss my life in China more, that's the future I want, that's where I want to be, learning Mandarin Chinese and at some point I will hopefully outdo my fish with my Mandarin skills - don't laugh, a girl can dream. Dreams are the best thing this world has, as long as you pursue them and don't just watch them float by. With the right determination, nothing is impossible.

I fear my fish and I don't have an easy ride ahead of us but I sincerely hope we can make it. I firmly believe we have been given an amazing opportunity and to let that slip would be an epic failure from both of us. This is the fierce believe my fish instilled in me when we first started dating and I have made this believe part of my own personal bible ever since. Giving up is for those who don't have the heart to try. I felt like giving up and throwing my dreams away a good few times before but I never had the heart to do so. When your heart truly wants something, giving up is the last option, no matter how painful the journey to your own personal success may be, how many tears of frustration you cry along the way, how much you swear and promise you'll never use all of our energy and effort to focus on one goal and one goal only - getting your dreams.

When I graduated, we had a very simple graduation slogan. I don't remember who came up with it, and I think I was probably one of the few who really cared about it, but I have never been able to forget it: Live your dreams, but don't dream your life away. On top of that we sang R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest", that was our graduation song. To a young mind that slogan and the powerful lyrics of the song are truly impressive and they made me believe that I need to pursue what I want if I really want it. It's not just going to magically end up at my doorstep. I need to stick it out and see things through. I need to bit my time and when the moment is right I will get what I want.

I have been trying my best to apply this to my relationship but it's proven to be so much harder. All the things I've said here, if I was to say them in Mandarin, I probably could but it would take me a long time and a lot more words than a native speaker would need. In my mind I would be convinced that what I'm saying is what I mean to say when in reality I may be miles off course. It's a struggle to pour out your heart in a language you've only been learning for a little more than two years but I think I got pretty apt at it. More or less anyway. It's my language of love. I associate warmth, trust and all sorts of emotions with it. Mind you, I can keep up in an argument but since I am not a fan of arguments, that's not a positive point to make.

I told you he is always that cute, even if he doesn't want his picture taken.

My fish and I are miles away from winning our battle but I believe that we will because I know my heart will wither if we don't. I don't even want to contemplate that outcome but it's tough and I'm sure I've long since run out of energy. But I have an iron willpower so I'm not going to question where my energy is coming from. I never knew I had that much power inside of me but clearly even I manage to surprise myself on the odd occasion.

On a final note, writing truly soothes the soul, body, heart and mind. I was so utterly miserable and heartbroken when I started this post but now I have gained a little bit of my composure back. Mind you, it isn't much and these days I am always only an inch away from crumbling. But even if I crumble I still have a choice. I can stay down and weep pitifully or I can weep and then get back on my feet and show the world, my world and the people in it, that I ain't going down (as Shania Twain once sang).