Happy Birthday to Me!

2002 > America

I’ll be twenty-nine next year too!

Hot in Red
Hi, George Jr!
hotpot rocks!
Nuttin’ like home cooking!
This past weekend, I turned twenty-nine for the first of many years, and in the process had one of the oddest birthday’s of my life. Now, Jingmei did treat me to a great day of attention and pampering, including a cake, but that night things changed: she spent the night packing for a flight out the next day! Oddly enough, I was the one who bought her the ticket too.

See, if you don’t know already, today is New Year’s Eve. Yes, tomorrow one sixth’s of the world’s population will celebrate the beginning of the year of the horse, and I did my little part in making this great change quite memorable for my wife and her family.

After spending a year in England and a few months in America, Jingmei was noticeably homesick last fall, so at Christmas, I traded in all my frequent flyer miles for a surprise ticket to Beijing in March for Jingmei. She was quite overjoyed when she opened the red envelope on Christmas morning, even shedding a few tears. It was the perfect gift to show my understanding and dedication, especially since I earned all those miles flying to see her in London.

During January, I could tell that Jingmei was getting restless, talking constantly of what she wanted to do in Beijing when she got there, so much so, it was starting to get annoying. Then, last week, all of a sudden she wanted me to cancel the ticket but would not tell me why. I didn’t cancel the flight, hoping she would snap out of her funk.

Wednesday, her brother left a long message on the answering machine, coming as close as he could to say, “I’m sorry” and “I love you”. Apparently, he and Jingmei had fought earlier in the week, which was why she wanted to cancel her ticket.

After his apology, he asked Jingmei to fly home for Chinese New Year (CNY) on his dime, and surprise their parents when they went to Shanghai to celebrate (they live in Beijing). Thursday, instead of thinking of what I wanted for my birthday, I got her a last minute flight to Shanghai for a surprisingly cheap $600 since there were no frequent flyer seat available.

It’s already Monday night in Shanghai, and I just called her brother’s place, where pandemonium reigns. All I could hear over the phone were her parent’s cries of joy and her brother’s peals of laughter downing out Jingmei’s tired yet happy thanks.

Soon she’ll be enjoying visiting her friends, and as a lesson for those who have homesick spouses, she’ll be seeing China with new eyes. After a year and a half abroad, in UK and USA, Jingmei had developed a very rosy memory of Beijing. Now she’s having to readjust that over-happy memory to incorporate the sights, smells, sounds, and shit of the real China.