Friday, April 29, 2016

Loving China with my Man

Date nights with Ryan make me love China more.

Maybe it's because everything is easier to love when you're with the one you love most!

But really, it's a whole different experience when I'm out with him and not with the girls. We don't get too much attention. Even when we do crazy things like steal kisses on the sidewalk because the scent of pollen is so strong and sweet and makes us so happy, hardly anyone stops, stares, or cares. And walking places is just plain fun because it's easy to talk and hold hands, and reminds us of how we fell in love...

With the girls, on the other hand, I often feel like I'm in a zoo. Except we're the animals, not the onlookers. I hear comments almost everywhere we walk. If I stop for a moment, there's almost always someone - or a crowd - that comes up to the stroller. If I dare lay Ellie down on a playmat to kick around while Hadassah plays, there's almost instantly a crowd, often asking me questions. Thankfully we've found some more secluded spots, but outside of those, we're an attraction. And walking, while still something I enjoy, means maneuvering a double stroller over bumpy sidewalk and up and down curbs. That or holding on to the toddler's hand to make sure she doesn't get hit by a car, bike, or trip in the many holes. Okay so really, it's not so bad - it's just harder at times. I am so thankful for how much JOY I have in daily life, especially compared to how almost depressed I was this time last year. I am thankful for how warm and caring the people here are. There are just many moments I'd rather not be so noticed!

So it is so good to get out more alone. To feel a bit more free. To not feel like I'm the "show" for those who pass by. And when the day is warm, the sun is still bright at 5 PM, and the girls both napped well that day so should be doing well with the friends watching them, it's so much easier to be carefree and love being part of a walking society with the buzz of a Friday evening.

Even more fun? Finding one of those rare secluded spots and doing a little swing dancing! I felt light, like a teen again. Ellie's almost six months old, and I feel I've almost fully recovered from the rigors of pregnancy and birth. My man is an amazing leader, and we pulled out moves we've hardly done since our wedding rehearsal dinner and laughed as we got our arms all mixed up. It's easy to laugh when I'm with Ryan.

Dinner was a disaster and a delicious surprise. Both of us had yummy Chinese cabbage on our minds, so we decided to walk to the nice campus hotel/restaurant that had it. Only to find they'd changed their menu. Perhaps even changed who ran it. The "menu" was a huge wall of lighted up pictures with only Chinese descriptions. Nothing looked particularly great, and the ingredients sitting out to chose from (including a plate with a raw, dead fish) didn't look that fresh. They finally took us back to sit down and pulled out an old menu we recognized with English translations, but said they didn't have most of the dishes. And mind you they were only speaking in Chinese, so we were just picking out words we knew and going by actions! ;) When we asked for beef, they pointed out their most expensive, weird looking beef something (equivalent of $20) and they didn't have cabbage... Finally we just decided to leave, very embarrassed but relieved. And it seemed the wait staff was relieved too! Sometimes it's just not worth it to try to communicate when neither of you is catching most of anything the other person is saying...

So we went to the one other place we knew of that had the cabbage, the place with the hilarious menu translations. I hadn't been that impressed with it before, but it never hurts to give a second try, and that cabbage was on our minds! To our surprise we were greeted just inside the door by a man in a Chef's hat hailing from India and asking (in English) where we were from. To our delight we discovered an insert in the menu titled "Exotic Indian bread" - I mean you can't go wrong with that! And we were not disappointed...

Though the 10 or more descriptions of the bread were all in Chinese, so we decided to ask the chef for his recommendation. After some back-and-forth in broken Chinese with the waiter, Ryan got him to take him back up to the chef to talk in English. Only to find out that this man's English was very limited. Ryan asked "what do you recommend?" and the man answered him in an Indian dialect! I think the chef was trying to give the impression to the waiter that he knew English. Pretty awkward for Ryan, but he said one English word - "egg" - and what he brought out (friend thin bread around scrambled egg and chives) was absolutely delicious! Definitely want to go back for more some day!

The other choices - our cabbage, lamb chops, spring rolls, and a pumpkin dessert roll, along with freshly squeezed orange juice as the perfect palate cleanser - were all delicious as well. We actually ate and enjoyed them all. We're getting better at ordering, or maybe just less adventurous!

But the company and conversation was sweeter still. We got our favorite convenience store ice cream to eat on the way home, along with a pack of white paper, since the "paper" I thought I'd ordered on Taobao turned out to be card stock! And we kept stopping to drink in the scent of pollen - the wonderful scent of spring - all the way home. Laughed about how we live in Shanghai but hardly ever take the metro. Looked into each other's eyes and smiled. And never ever let go of each other's hand...

Ellie was crying really hard when we got back though. Life is still life with all it's hard moments. She often gets overtired even after just 2 hours being awake, and she's gotten more mommy clingy lately. She calmed down in my arms, though, and after a long nursing session was her smiley and laughing self again. Even went to bed really easily, being relieved to be home. Hadassah thankfully is fully joyous with our friends and no longer protests at all when we leave, just takes her shoes off and runs in for fun. So they do grow, and I know that this is ultimately good. I hardly ever left Hadassah at this age, but I've learned that a little crying doesn't do a ton of damage, and we're showing Ellie that we always come back... Her tears hurt my heart, but ultimately I am a much happier Mommy for having been out for 2 hours with the one my heart loves most.

What a sweet, sweet time it was... Thank You, Lord.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are such a cute couple. =) Glad to see you're having fun together in China! And the food looks delicious! I hope I get to visit that country someday. =)