I'm moving and I'm breaking up with China

So...I'm moving...again. It seems to me if it isn't New Zealand or Laos, it's not right. This move isn't a surprise to those who know me. Not a surprise to those who pretend to. Not a surprise to anyone who might read this silly little space. I've played my cards close to my chest these past few months, living a bit more privately and archiving personal posts with passcodes to keep them safe and honoured for those who share the memories with me instead of the whole of the web, but a lot has been going on. I've got my plane tickets. I've got my bags packed. I've got a lot to see and a lot to do in other places-- places I'm more than a little excited to be traveling through and to. 

I've decided while I'm traveling the next half of the year, to continue compiling my city guides, travel tips, favourite eateries and cultural experiences, and the stories from my suitcase-- just maybe not all of them, and maybe not in real time. Some of the many posts coming are about China. 

There were things I loved about my time in China. Like how much I grew and how good it felt when pieces of the puzzle fell more into place. But I didn't love China. And, by all evidence, China didn’t love me either.  

I thought it was only right to kick off my next stint of travels by closing this chapter with one of a series of letters to {urban} China I wrote for the Nanjinger. The graphic designer looked up at me from his screen the other day and said, "When are you going to write the break-up letter in the series?" And, after laughing about it at first, I realized...it was time. 

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So here it is. The final letter in the series. 


China, China, China...

Let me start by saying this isn't actually a break-up because we were never actually in a relationship. This was a case of me meeting you, knowing I didn't have feelings for you but insisting I could figure you out. I convinced myself that my previous relationships made me somehow capable of taking you on, but I didn't actually want you. I wanted the challenge you brought with you. And that is my own fault. 

I've been told by someone especially dear to me to stop apologizing so much but that same person always wants apologies of some kind, ya know? And, China, you're just like that. I've apologized for not being better at speaking your language. I've apologized for not having set out expectations before we started this. I've apologized for trying to make sense of things I should just accept as part of you. No amount of "sorry" seems to make things any different between us. 

You didn't just play hard to get. Since November you've played every mind game in the book and messed with me at every chance. You've made me doubt myself. You've made me cry and you've confused me. You made me question my instincts. I'm not even sure why I've hung around this long. We make allowance after allowance for the ones we love. But...I don't love you...? So why have I made excuses for you? I suppose I crave adventures that test me. I'm not one for taking the easy way out. 

Together, we don't seem to communicate. Like replying to someone's message and then getting ignored as if you started said conversation. Did you not understand, China, that conversation by definition is reciprocal? I tried. I tried and tried and tried. Some days, I'd try and end up getting screamed at in the coffee line. So, I stopped trying. And that did no good either, aye?

My expectations were non-existent upon meeting you. I suppose that only allowed you to walk all over me at the beginning, which then set a precedent. And why would you treat me with respect when you have so many loyal friends and lovers? Why bother putting any effort into me when you're obviously so distracted by others? 

You're a little rough around the edges. You spit and you smoke and you stare. You stare on the metro and at the corner shop and in the mall and at the park. Can I ask why you were staring all that time? It intimidated me, China. It made me feel uncomfortable in my skin and so I hid away living off of dragonfruit for the first three months I was here. I wouldn't feed myself because going out alone as a foreign woman meant you stared at me. So I began to wither away a little bit. I lost weight and purpose and ...worst of all....for a time I lost my words. I can forgive the smoking and the spitting. I've dealt with all of that before. I suppose staring sends the message that you don't care to court me; another red flag I should have seen. 

Your focus on material things reminds me a lot of the U.S.-- part of the U.S. I dislike very much. I remember finding out your vintage shops don't actually sell vintage goods...yeah, that's when the lying and materialism sort of made me snap in a Gone Girl moment. The straw that broke the camel's back. You care too much about exteriors and pay very little attention to the inside of things-- not a rare problem in the world today, but a philosophy I just cannot subscribe to. I value quality over quantity. Maybe I shouldn't be bothered by the minor things, but you do see how that could be frustrating, right? How going to a cafe and being told they serve neither coffee nor tea leaves one feeling like pulling out their hair? How turning up to a temple where there are no novices or monks residing there, but there is a souvenir shop and a press penny maker would feel empty and void? 

China, I wanted to come here and be blown away by your history. I wanted to witness the fragmented bits of your history and learn about the baggage you carry with you, since I walked into this knowing nothing about your past. It turns out, you've built shiny skyscrapers over most of it. You've saved yourself from ruin and I cannot hate you for that. But I would have really loved for you to have shared your scars and stories with me instead of hiding them away. So many people do that, ya know? They hide the things that are broken. And more often than not we are told how unhealthy it is to dwell on what's behind us, but those are the things that form us, China. I wanted to see all the remnants from a time that formed you. 

Could I have fought harder for us to have something? Probably. Maybe. But after visiting your museums, watching your documentaries, making friends with your friends, doing things your way, and reading about you...I thought I'd done well. I feel like I still have such little insight into where we went wrong. You'd pull me in with kindness in these tiny moments throughout my day. There were so many moments when I saw warmth through your cracked pavement, but then I'd trip and fall.

And, China, I'm out of band-aids. 

My friends told me you weren't good for me. I suppose I take the blame for that-- not listening. They're family. They know me. Why didn't I listen? My stubbornness is one of my many flaws, China. You know that though, don't you? Despite me not listening, they continuously reminded me how absolutely in love I remain with others like the ever-calming, ever-compassionate Laos or the always passion-igniting New Zealand {ya know, the soulmate}. 

I took you on and trod water for you until I remembered...I can fucking swim. And I won't be in a relationship, platonic or otherwise, that's forced. I've got a tough heart. I'm not fragile, even when I am. I'm not someone who walks away from someone she loves-- which is why when I decided to leave you, it felt right and...easy. 

I want to be clear, China-- it's not all been bad. Thanks to you, I lost the woman I was only to find her a few months later-- tougher, better able to identify what she deserves, and more prepared to see every hidden away corner the earth has to offer. I'm even more adventurous than I was when I met you, and I really didn't think that was possible. I'm even more flexible and I'm even more focused. Had I not met you, China, I wouldn't have met Amy or Katie or Vanessa or Adam or Jenny or Renee or the number of other wonderful people I've met. I wouldn't have been pushed to try writing some other way, which led me to the magazine. I wouldn't have saved a bunch of money {dragonfruit is cheap} so that I could go out and reunite with the loves of my life and bat my eyes with new countries that give me that tingly-heart-on-fire-feeling. 

We just clearly have no future. I don't want to share my airpoints with you. I don't want to convince you that I'm worthy of having if you don't agree. I don't want to be monitored by rules that you make and then alter whenever you fancy. I don't see me sitting on a rocking chair 50 years from now looking out at you. And, to you, I'm just another someone who doesn't speak your love language and can't for the life of her grasp your logic. 

This is what's best for both of us. I'll be around for a little while seeing if your less tamed parts {i.e. rural China} and I can work up a friendship, which I hope very much that we can. But, there’s no looking back now. No more telling me you love me on a Thursday only to change your mind on Saturday, China. 

Take care of yourself, China. I’ll be off wandering.