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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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Arrival    

By Peter V
4121 Views | 17 Comments | 4/5/2016 6:00:20 AM

The international terminal at Chicago O’Hare is a relatively modest affair compared to its futuristic United counterpart at the same site, that airline’s largest, or compared to any of the four other terminals for that matter. Terminal 5 as it’s known is also separated from the rest of the airport so that reaching it requires either boarding an above ground train or getting on a shuttle and taking an escalator down to a nondescript waiting area.



Welcoming is not a word you would think to apply here; sterile and unattractive are much more likely to leap to mind. Unlike all the other terminals at O’Hare there are no restaurants to lounge in, no high priced shops to peruse and, sadly, no bars.  Instead a McDonald’s counter serves as the only option for those in search of food or beverage, while on the other side of the room a small gift shop sells--in addition to the usual overpriced water, snacks, and other toiletries--bouquets of flowers and balloons with slogans like “Welcome” and “Love you.”



It’s a sparse crowd on this Sunday morning, with no more than a dozen or so people spread among the bolted to the floor metallic seats with cheap vinyl covers in various stages of disrepair that are bunched together on one side of the room. A few restless souls stand in front of the two wall mounted television monitors that display images of passengers just before they walk out through one of the two openings on opposite sides of the room into the waiting area. I glance back at the display board to verify that Yong’s flight has landed, calculate the time it will take her to go through customs, and decide that yes, I do have time to buy some roses. And I might as well get an Egg Mcmuffin while I’m at it.



This is our fifth visit. Since Yong first travelled to Tucson last May, we have alternated making the trek roughly every two to three months. If all goes well, this will be the last time we engage in this international dating ritual, a ritual that is not only financially but emotionally exhausting, a ritual that leads to unnatural highs that cannot be sustained and devastating lows difficult to endure. The Hong Kong to Chicago flight is a brutal 14 hour affair.  But the physical distances we have traveled to spend time together is nothing compared to personal journeys we have undertaken in order to reach this point. But how to compare miles to years?



Eighteen months ago I almost didn’t open an e-mail. After living in China for nearly a half-decade in two extended stints, after pursuing Chinese women both during my time in country and in the intervals, both online and in person, after hundreds of messages sent and received, dozens of dates and more than a few relationships, including one last, painful one that would have destroyed lesser men, I decide, as they say, to throw in the towel, a phrase that refers to the practice during a boxing match of a manager literally flinging a towel into the ring to signal the battle is at an end, that his fighter has had enough, that he is beat and battered, spent and exhausted, and lacks the stamina to continue the struggle.  That pretty accurately sums up my feeling at the time when it comes to Chinese women.  I have withdrawn from active participation in the international online Chinese dating scene, and while I occasionally check out profiles, it is in the way that a traveler might wistfully eye images of a distant land, a land to which he knows he will never return. I am back in the states, starting a new career, and it seems like a good time to initiate a new romantic direction as well.  Not that I’m going to do anything desperate like join a monastery or date an American woman.  Rather, I have my eyes set south of the border, and have planned a summer of Spanish study in Mexico to initiate my new phase in career and romance.



And then it arrives.  The message I can’t get off my mind, the face I can’t forget.  Against my better judgment, I open it up, and then, propelled by forces I seem unable to resist, I reply. So that is how it started, somewhere ages and ages (well, a year and a half) hence, except in light of the number of times humans start relationships, start them knowing most are bound to fail, start them in the hopes that this latest one will finally bring happiness, it should be called the road more—not the road less—taken. It is certainly the triumph of hope over experience, common sense, and good judgment. A line from the movie Annie Hall comes to mind.  A guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, doctor, you have to help me out. My brother thinks he’s a chicken. You need to have him committed, replies the doctor. I can’t, says the man. We need the eggs. Relationships inevitably involve craziness and irrationality. But we need the eggs.



At first we engage in sporadic e-mail exchanges, then progress to more frequent missives, then to qq messaging and finally to phone calls. Interestingly, we do not utilize video chats during that first seven-month period, except for one brief encounter neither of us seem to enjoy but both feel compelled to undergo in order to verify our identities to each other. After six months we agree to meet and undertake the fateful camping trip detailed in this blog. And now, after nearly a year of this ping pong game of romantic visits, we are poised on the brink of the future.



How did I reach this point, waiting with the anticipation of a teenager for this woman to clear customs? It’s not like I sat down one day and calculated the pros and cons of the situation the way you might approach what to order at a restaurant or where to take a vacation or whether to accept a job offer. It was more like the gradual accumulation of evidence that leads a detective to settle upon one suspect. I contemplate the clues along the ways. The initial physical attraction was essential but in no way determinative; her response to that first rainstorm that nearly scuttled the camping trip revealed a whatever-happens-its-an adventure attitude I find a necessity in a mate; it aided the cause that we shared a love of nature and of travel. And then there was: her courage (whether in moving from her hometown to Shenzhen as a young woman, or in travelling to America to meet a strange man); her passions (for example, the fact that she would take more a five hour round trip every Sunday to Hong Kong for a couple of years just to study flamenco);her perseverance (working her  way from an entry level position to top management in an international company); her curiosity (when she was young her nickname was ‘the-thousand-why-girl’). Or little things like the way she takes my hand when we are driving or reaches out for me in the middle of the night.



I don’t believe in destiny. I’m more of an advocate of randomness, an adherent to the Church of Stuff Happens. But as she walks out past the corridor that’s been roped off for arrivals, spots me and smiles, I know with all the certainty that humans are capable of in such matters that this is the woman I will be spending the rest of my life with.



Yong and I were married on March 23, 2016. In future blog posts, I hope to write about our married life in the hopes of providing perspective and advice for others who are similarly situated or contemplating arriving here.



I want also to extend a note of infinite gratitude to John and to ChinaLoveMatch. But more on this later. For now, you can check out the pictures at: Shutterfly: Yong & Peter's Wedding.


Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 10 of 17) 1 2 More...
#2016-04-05 07:11:07 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Amazing news, Peter, and perhaps as good as any news we've ever received on CLM. First, let us congratulate you on 6 years and 10 days hard work well done!

I say that because you joined CLM 6 years and 10 days before your wedding day. I realize that you may have actually started your quest for a Chinese life partner even before that, but I know it has been at least that long.

To your great credit, unlike so many men who jump into this quest simply trying to find "a" Chinese partner, you set out to find "your" Chinese partner, the one who would really last forever. Of course, some men do that and are fortunate enough to come across a really great match early on, while others have to persevere for a long time, but it is safe to say that when you are one of the ones who has really taken their time and been very careful to make a wise and considered choice, you are all the more likely to enjoy long term success.

Noted that you almost gave up the search, but maybe that's when Karma stepped in and rewarded you for your patience and your efforts.

For those of you out there who have also toiled for a long time trying to find Mz Chinese or Asian Right, take heart. It really needn't be a matter of "if", only a matter of "when".

We couldn't be happier for you Peter. May you and Yong be forever happy together!

The very best to you my friend! Many cheers, John (clap)(beer)(beer)(beer)(clap)

#2016-04-05 13:00:03 by Barry1 @Barry1

@woaizhongguo

"yes, I do have time to buy some roses. And I might as well get an Egg Mcmuffin while I’m at it."

Any man who orders an egg McMuffin with roses when close to meeting her woman can't be all bad. In fact, he's likely to be quite good!

It shows that he's romantic yet practical; a dreamer yet down-to-earth; a wise man knowing nervousness and anticipation are more readily met whilst not having an empty stomach.

In your first article, "This is Only a Test", I immediately liked the look of the lady in the photo, who I now know to be Yong. She possessed an air of loveliness and charm interspersed with determination and true grit. Outer beauty laced with plenty of inner. I sensed she was indeed a "keeper", not someone to pass by.

One of the biggest hurdles Chinese ladies face when emigrating to a Western country is loneliness. The frenetic hustle and bustle of day to day life largely vanishes overnight. No doubt you know this already, but my advice to to do your best to keep Yong occupied. Keep her interested if possible in all aspects of not just your life, but American culture generally.

If ever you and Yong visit Brisbane in Australia and I'm not still in China, you're both more than welcome to stay at my place for as long as you like. It makes a great jumping off point to visit both the scenic Gold Coast and adjoining hinterland rainforest areas. The house has multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, mostly empty, so space isn't a consideration.

Most certainly Peter, I wish both you and Yong the very best of life-long abundant happiness and continuing spiritual fulfilment. (clap)(beer)(clap)(beer)(clap)(beer)







#2016-04-05 17:54:20 by melcyan @melcyan

Congratulations Peter!

I have read most of your blogs since 2012 and this piece is by far the best writing from you that I have read. Writing from your heart definitely has a big impact. I wish you and your lovely wife all the best for the future.

#2016-04-06 12:12:06 by melcyan @melcyan

Congratulations Yong and Peter! I wish you both all the best for the future. (should have been included in my first comment)

#2016-04-06 21:23:49 by Anniehow @Anniehow

Great news Peter! You are one of the few sophiscated and best writers with cross cultural insights. We hope to read more of your "adventures". Congratulations on meeting your compatible partner!

#2016-04-06 21:44:55 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

Also my heartfelt congratulations to BOTH of you !

Here's to a long and happy life together....Cheers !(beer)

#2016-04-07 01:40:16 by QinQL @QinQL

Wow, yes, Amazing news from Peter! Congratulations Yong and Peter. Look at wedding pictures one by one at shutterfly: Yong & Peter’s wedding, I could feel happiness from both of them, especially the Groom. He looks to smile more than his bride’s. So nice sharing! I seem to have learned some from your story, too. As John mentioned, we could see you had spent 6 years and 10 days before your wedding day. Sometimes i wonder why i haven’t met the right one for me and i could hold him come to me . Such excellent members of CLM like you had taken so long time, i learned to be patience myself. I also do admire your bride. She is brave and have great courage to take the first step herself to travel to the USA to meet you. she must have had found you are excellent enough to attract to her before she traveled.

May you and Yong be forever happy together (music)(clap)(clap)(music)


Glad to see you are going to write about your married life. Looking forward to reading them.

#2016-04-07 17:07:03 by Jeanne0303 @Jeanne0303

Amazing! Congratulations! Agree John, it is not matter of "if",does matter of "when".

#2016-04-07 20:07:12 by Nekko @Nekko

@peterv

Wishing you and Yong all the very best health, wealth and happiness. I read the read the story with great interest. This is such a wonderful outcome. Hope you are happy together
forever.(dance)

#2016-04-07 21:10:05 by Anniehow @Anniehow

Peter, I noticed an interesting detail in your blog. You mentioned that you were not so desperate that you would date an American woman and you were planning to move your target dating pool south. I wonder what is behind this thinking or mentality. Did you feel American women lose their charm after your experience living overseas? Does your overseas experience make you realize or less tolearnt to some American cultural "weaknesses", so to speak?

Is it similar to the 3rd culture dilemma ? It is difficult to fit in your original home culture because you have changed and miss some elements of a foreign culture, which you find challenging to totally assimilate to as well? It is so intense that you only feel comfortable in a "border" culture setting?

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