Why I love China
No longer able to do my beloved Rolfing, I looked online for a part-time job. It became a part-time job researching and sending out 100 resumes. In those six months, I got only one interview. One day, an ad caught my eye: Teach English in China. I'd love to do that! I thought, but then realized, oh wait, I can't, I have a husband. However, over the next few days, I wondered, if I were to go, what would I have to do?
Getting two letters of recommendation was the first step. And surprisingly, though it meant being away for ten months, the people were ecstatic to write them. When I got the recommendations, I cried for they described the person I used to be before my marriage. Finally, I decided I had to go to China if only to see if I could be that person again who loved life, people, her job and was on good terms with everyone.
Overnight, I had energy, enthusiasm and a future that excited and made sense to me. No longer was it hard to walk up a flight of stairs nor did I fill my hours playing word games on the computer.
Packing up my office so that my step-son could move back in with us, I happened upon an old journal and saw my list of 100 things I wanted to do before I die. Going to China was number one. I wonder if hearing my grandma say whenever life got frustrating, "I just want to get on a slow boat to China" made China seem a safe place.
My family and friends varied greatly in their reaction to my decision. My daughters were supportive and not surprised. Whereas my dad asked in bewilderment, "What kind of person does that?" "Me," I laughed.
Funnily enough, new friends were delighted with this life path, but to them I was Kathryn-going-to-China. As soon as they met me, they knew I was going to leave, so I wasn't abandoning them.
I remember the moment I looked out on the Pacific Ocean from our top deck. The day was as jaw-dropping gorgeous as the first day we saw it. Santa Cruz Island stood in sharp relief against the blue sea, the barren patches shone gold, the trees so clear you could almost count them. Santa Barbara looked quaint with its red tile roofs nestled in greenery. The harbor looked like a postcard and remains the cutest harbor I've ever seen, big enough to hold cruise ships and small enough to be a short walk to your boat. I stared long and vowed, "I give up this beautiful view to see one thousand more."
I learned my first word of Chinese waiting in line at the Los Angeles Airport. I hadn't taken the time to learn any as I'd be there for months, and there was a multitude of projects I wanted to finish before leaving.
When I got to China and fell in love with it, and was happier in an apartment the size of a garage, I thought my husband would hate me. But when it seemed I might have a brain tumor, I realized that if I had two months to live or the rest of my life, I didn't want to fight anymore.
We had fought most every day about the kids, the house, money, remodeling and our future. But saying, "I want a divorce" stopped all the fighting. He just said, "Okay, I understand." It made me realize that loving someone isn't enough, that you have to like them, too, and it's hard to like someone who doesn't like most of your ideas.
The irony is that he has gotten involved with Laughter Yoga, too. Somehow it took my going to the other side of the world -- and him changing jobs and remarrying -- for us both to find Laughter Yoga. I wish I'd found Laughter Yoga back in 1995 when it began! Way too many black moments wasted being miserable when I could have been laughing!
Now I'm beginning my seventh year in China.