I had no desire to visit China. Give me Italy, Spain, England any day. I want to travel but to a country where I recognize the food and speak the language. I want to eat with a fork and a knife, and I do not want to squat to do my business. (At my age, I am not a very agile crouching tiger.)
It has been one year since my husband HoneyBunch and I spent seventeen days in China, and I can now look back and not hold it against him anymore.
It’s not that I didn’t like China; it just wasn’t on any of my bucket lists. And though he may deny it, it wasn’t on any of his. I distinctly remember taking him to a travel presentation where he went all Kung Fu Panda on the sales agent. The poor man was talking about the sites we would visit in China and the history we would learn, and HB said some pretty ugly things about Mao and Communism.
Needless to say, my husband and I didn’t stay for the slide presentation of Tuscany.
What changed HB’s mind? Why did we spend our trip-to-Italy money on a seventeen-day tour of China?
His oldest went to China on a one-month vacation and returned soon after to pursue an interesting job offer – just a little diversion until he decided what to do with the seven years of expensive schooling from UT-Austin paid for in cash by his father. He worked at several jobs while there and eventually met a wonderful young woman and got married. They were making plans to move to the states, so HB figured this might be our one and only chance to meet our Chinese in-laws. He booked us on a tour for the first twelve days and then added a four-day detour into the interior on our own to visit family.
For four months I practiced with chopsticks, worked out at the gym (because the brochure warned us there would be a lot of climbing and walking), and read up on Chinese history. I had a lot to learn. Nowhere in the seven thousand years of history was there mention of Mulan, Jackie Chan, or the Karate Kid. The only Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a made-for-America movie that scored big at the box office.
It was a bit overwhelming but made sense when we were able to attach book knowledge with the museum artifacts and the structures that have survived through the ages.
It all feels like a dream a year later, but what stays with me most is my daughter-in-law’s family. Now that the kids live nearby, we often talk about “home.” She Skypes and emails with them on a regular basis. They ask about us, and we send our regards. Despite our language barrier and all the thousands of miles between us, one thing is real – mess with our family and awaken the hidden dragon in all of us.