After living in China for a little over a year now, the honeymoon is definitely over. I remember when it ended, on a day in late September where the air was still warm enough to go sit on a beach that was a ten minute walk from my house.
Sitting on that beach, with the sun beating down on me and the sand tickling my skin, a moment in which most would be calm, I was hit with the reality that the honeymoon was over.
This wasn’t fun, or exciting, or interesting anymore. The challenges that I once took joy in only frustrated my attempts to settle into this country. The job I thought was going to change the world only changed me into bitter and exhausted.
It was only two months into my year long journey in China, but the romantic, rose-colored glow of life faded as reality sunk in.
And facing this fact presented a choice: I could choose to let this tarnish the things to love about China, or I could press through it and find them.
I chose to press through and after a year, I still love China.
In pressing through, I began to search for the beauty in China. The beauty in China is like all truly beautiful things, it is not obvious, loud, common or easy to find.
The beauty in China is found in friends who accept you, a wide-eyed, fresh faced foreigner from a young country who is trying to find a way in a country that has a history and a culture deeper than you will ever know.
These friends will love you, support you, and never laugh at you as you try to learn their language or master folding dumplings. These friends will spend hours in a hospital with you. They will see you the day you were fired from your second job without warning. They will help you move. They will offer advice on all matters of the heart.
And then there are the friends who are in the same situation as you, a stranger in a strange land. These friends will guide you, be there for you when you need to scream the frustrations of not understanding the country you’ve made home. These friends will feed you, both with wisdom and love.
It isn’t easy, calling another country home because home implies all things familiar and comfortable. But I’ve been one who can call home anywhere that my heart takes me and my heart has taken me here. When your heart chooses something, you accept both the good and the bad and continue to love, even when you don’t feel it.
For so long I searched for what I could love about China, and it turns out only by loving the people around me have I found a love for this country.
Finding the things to love about China took me on a year long adventure, but little by little I collected memories and moments that I stacked on shelves in my heart.
When I need to, I take them out and polish them until they shine, until I can see myself in them again.