Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Remember the first time I wrote you?
It was after we had just met.
You were the bad boy everyone told me I wouldn’t like – with your disregard for traffic laws and penchant for spitting in the street.
I had just gotten out of a three-year relationship with law-abiding, neat-freak Japan.
I figured you’d be just like my Southeast Asian flings – a good time for a few months before I moved on to a country that I had a bit more in common with. After all, I’d never really seen myself settling down somewhere where chicken feet are considered a tasty snack.Then, despite what everyone told me about you, I fell in love.
Sure, you have always been a bit rough around the edges.
And, okay, so maybe you like to push me around a bit.
But you showed me a soft side that not a lot of visitors get to see. And, no, I’m not just talking about my couch. Okay, so maybe I’m mostly talking about my couch, but still.Of course, it hasn’t always been good times between you and me.
First, you tried to kill me with all those respiratory infections.
And, well, it hasn’t been easy making friends here. I’ve always suspected this is because you’re the jealous type and you want me all to yourself. I mean, that is why you gave me such a sweet couch, right? So I would just stay in my apartment all day and watch reality TV shows on Hulu and never, ever bother to socialize, right?
Plus, my job hasn’t exactly been easy-peasy, either. I’ve struggled with unmotivated students and a lack of resources and support. Along with a lack of heating in the classrooms. And cooling. Or really any functioning electrical equipment.
I’d like to think I came out of those hard times stronger in the end.
Or at least my lungs are stronger. I haven’t had a respiratory infection in, like, eight months. Probably because my lungs have morphed into crazy robot lungs. The next time I have to get a chest X-ray, I fully expect them to find a Terminator inside my chest. Or a tumor. Either one, really.Honestly, since the start of this year, I’d say we’ve been getting along pretty darn well.
You won me back in Harbin even if I almost lost all my fingers to frostbite.
Then you pampered me with beer and cream puffs in Qingdao.
And who can forget our time on the Great Wall? I mean, I certainly can’t. I’m still having flashbacks of all those stairs. In fact, every time I see a staircase, I start to get the dry heaves a little.
Things have been good lately, China, really good.
But as they say all good things have to come to an end. (Frankly, I’ve never been particularly fond of this saying. Because there’s lots of good things that really shouldn’t come to an end. Like cake. But, in this case, it kind of works.)It’s time for me to go.
Yep, that’s right, I’m leaving you, China.
I know this isn’t news to either of us. I announced my decision to move on months ago. You took it calmly enough. Maybe you didn’t think I meant it. After all, we both know I’d threatened to leave you before.
There was that time I applied for jobs in, like, twelve other countries. And, even after getting offered a few jobs elsewhere, I stuck with you.
I wasn’t ready to leave then.
But this time I am.
Even if the pile of clothes all over my bed at the moment suggests otherwise.
You’re probably wondering why I’m leaving when things have been going so well?
Trust me, I’ve thought about staying.
A month or so ago, my employer practically begged me to stay another semester, and I considered it. I really did.It would have been easy to stay.
And that’s why I decided not to.
Frankly, things have been getting a bit too comfortable around here. We’d kind of become that couple that didn’t really care what we looked like in front of each other.
Well, you always were the casual type — the type to wear your pajamas in public.
But then I picked up a few bad habits of my own – like Ugg boots.
And it’s possible I’ve started wearing sweatpants for activities that don’t involve sweat or physical exertion of any kind. Like, I wore sweatpants the entire three days I was in Hong Kong. I didn’t mean to do it. I had packed real pants — you know, the kind with actual waistbands.
The sweatpants thing just kind of happened.
Just like my shoving huge quantities of dim sum into my face just kind of happened.Now, don’t think I haven’t noticed all the little things you’ve been doing to try to win me back ever since I announced we were through.
First, I was able to buy shoes in my size.
Then, the local shop near my apartment started selling Magnum tiramisu ice cream bars. These are basically about the best thing I’ve ever tasted on a stick. And, I don’t have to tell you, but I’ve eaten my fair share of tasty stuff on sticks.
And, then, last week you made it really, really easy for me to get my visa extension. Like, suspiciously easy.
I mean, there I was at a government office and everyone smiled at me and spoke English with me and were genuinely helpful and friendly. They don’t really do that kind of thing in the government offices where I come from. Or really in any government office I’ve ever been in.
It was weird.
Okay, so maybe they did turn up their noses a bit at my passport photo and demand I get a new one taken. In which, I wasn’t allowed to wear any earrings and I had to wear these fake lens-less glasses and I was told I could only smile “a little.” So I ended up looking like this:
I think we can all agree it wasn’t a good look for me. I suspect this was done just so you could be sure those other countries wouldn’t be making eyes at me, China.
Well, I’m pretty sure it worked.
Because Vietnam hasn’t called me back in, like, three days.I appreciate all you’ve done for me, China.
But it’s time for me to leave.
So it’s not over yet, China.
You still have a few more weeks to try to win me back with dumplings and stuff-on-a stick. And, I don’t have to tell you that I’m a girl who likes her stuff-on-a-stick.How do you know when it’s time to leave a place?