SOCIAL MEDIA

14 November 2014

5 Things I Miss (And 5 I Don't)

 {Welcome to #ChinaLife with me and The Rachel Way}

5 Things I Miss About my Life in America:

1. Riding my bike down endless deserted country roads when the sun was shining in the spring and summer

2. Nachos al Carbon at the restaurant El Arriero in Grand Rapids

3. My sewing machine and other appliances--like my oven and blender and air popper

4. Tuesday night dates--going swing-dancing downtown with my cousins and sisters.

5. Having a big enough space of my own that I could invite as many guests to stay as my little heart desired.



5 Things I Don't Miss About my Life in America:

1. Winter and Fall - say what you like about Fall, but it's already snowing in Michigan, and there's more than a month left of Fall. I rest my case.

2.  Doing the housework and yardwork that an 1800 sq. foot house on several acres requires.

3. Driving.

4.  Angel's work schedule--leaving at 6 a.m. and not getting home till after 8 p.m., rarely spending weekends or actual holidays together.

5. People who said "Oh, you speak Chinese? Ching chong. What did I say?" No one ever says that to me here, although they test my knowledge constantly, in much more realistic ways.

..................................................

Missing my family causes real heartache, but I don't really associate missing family with our move a few months ago. I feel more like I've been missing family members my entire life. For me, missing family funerals and weddings and births and birthdays is more normal than actually attending them, and I happen to know I'll be missing them for the rest of my life, no matter where I live. It's the nature of my far-flung family. Angel must have known what he was getting himself into when my parents and siblings only showed up at our wedding in the form of a PowerPoint slideshow.

How do you be a "good" daughter/in-law/niece/cousin/granddaughter/great-granddaughter when you can't do any of the stuff normal people do? I can't host the family Thanksgiving dinner. I can't call my sister at will just to chat and see how she's doing, I have to wait till we're both signed in on Skype at the same time, and then I'm at the mercy of the internet connection. I can't go to my nephew's first birthday party. I can't bring a meal over when new babies are born. I can't go on the family vacation to a cabin up North and show up in the group photos. I can't even send gifts for every possible occasion unless I intend to spend a lot more on international shipping fees than on actual gifts. I can't stop by with flowers for my grandma on Mother's Day.

I love the life I have. I love it. With everything that's in me I know that this is a worthwhile way to live. I've been doing the missing-my-family thing forever and I'll keep doing it. Maintaining those relationships from so far away isn't easy, and I'm not even sure I know the best way to do it. All I've got for now is writing this blog, posting photos on Facebook, and sending out periodic newsletters to make sure even the least internet-savvy know what we're up to, hoping that others also put in the effort to update us on their lives, but being content if they don't, knowing that not everyone is into pictures and words the way we are. We simply trust that everyone's going to keep on loving us as they always have, even though we  were the ones who committed the ultimate betrayal and left. Maybe that's why I've always thought Mark 10:29-30 ranks way up there as one of the most comforting verses of all time. I'm glad I look forward to a day when there won't be any of these tears, ever, ever again.

To end on a more flippant note, I also miss being able to afford to buy cheddar cheese. On the bright side, cheese isn't really all that healthy anyways, so it's not too much of a loss, right?

35 comments :

  1. We've been at this expat life for 15 years now. I can't even count how many weddings, funerals, births and random celebrations we have missed. I know we're right where we're suppose to be doing what we're doing, but I still have to admit that the expat life isn't always easy!

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  2. Oh, I can relate to so much of your post....except I'm forced to live apart from mine :( You're young, life is to be lived as you want to live it. It's great, really, that you have families who understand and support you in your decisions (it cannot have been, cannot be, easy for Angel's family). I guess you know you have to enjoy your chosen life that little bit more, given the sacrifices you, and other people, are making. [Have a lovely weekend! I so look forward to your posts about the trips out and about that you've taken!]

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  3. Love these! My husband and I just got back from Haiti and we didn't miss the social media one bit, surprisingly! Love your blog!

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  4. I'm insanely jealous that you don't have to deal with the snow! I do love it, but c'mon, wait your turn! Also, cheddar cheese is definitely a loss. I don't know if I would trade not having snow for cheese though, haha :)

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  5. Oh my gosh don't even get me started on the snow happening in MI right now. I love Fall a lot, but the snow and cold I could do without!! I imagine that's really hard to not be able to be close to your family now too...

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  6. so interesting! It hardly ever snows here (maybe like twice in winter) and I know the cold in Michigan must be extreme compared to our mild winters in Virginia! Many hugs, and enjoy your Chinese November. Goodgle is telling me the word for November in Chinese is 十一月 (shí yī yuè), so enjoy your 十一月 and cuddle your amazing husband :)

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  7. Swing dancing, I'd miss that too!

    People are so ignorant, I can't believe some of the things they feel is okay to say out loud!

    Sending you a hug and know that your family KNOWS you love them and that's what matters.

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  8. Are you sure you don't miss driving and snow? If you change your mind, I will gladly give them up and send them your way. ;) Also, I'm taking #2 of the things that you do miss as a recommendation. I will be stopping at El Arriero the next time I'm in Grand Rapids!

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  9. It's in the teens here right now, and lower with the windchill--I sure wouldn't miss that! :P

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  10. I've never really spent a lot of time away from my family but I'd say being an expat has it's highs and lows and that can be overwhelming and tiring! And as for #5 on the things you don't miss, that's crazy--I wouldn't miss that, either!

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  11. All of our family lives in the States, so we get to see them more often than it sounds like you do, but I do understand the frustration and sadness of not being with your family for special occasions! We only get to see our nieces and nephews a couple of times a year and haven't even met one of them yet! It makes me really sad sometimes to not be part of their lives. But I totally agree about that scripture, definitely very comforting to know we will all be together one day! :)

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  12. Here's a little Chinese for ya Nihao ma? I think that's how you spell it haha. I work for a Taiwanese company and I'm learning Mandarin from my Laoban :) Also, it just snowed here in NJ last night so I agree, that is one thing I can definitely do without!

    www.jerseygirltexanheart.com

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  13. Enjoyed your list of things you miss and love about your life in China! Winter would be 1 thing I would not miss either! Too bad about the cheddar cheese though!

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  14. People seriously say "ching chong" and expect you to "translate"? Hahahaha. That's...weird.

    I understand about living away from family!! It's really hard and we just do the best we can to stay in touch and let them know we really wish we could be there more often. My sister's birthday is next week and I'm currently super bummed that I won't be spending it with her, for the 6th year in a row.

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  15. Maybe it's the Minnesotan in me, but I enjoy the snow! As long as it doesn't last until May! I would definitely miss my sewing machine too. I have never traveled very far from home (NYC was the farthest) but I understand being away from family. Being in college I'm away from them quite a bit. I'll be graduating soon and who knows where that will take me. I love my family but I would also love to travel someplace new.

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  16. I can't believe people say think like ching chong. How awful. There are definitely pros and cons to living in this country and the ignorance that seems to run rampant here is one of those cons.

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  17. I am in Michigan and it is snowing RIGHT THIS MINUTE. The fall was nonexistent this year.

    Sarah
    Midwest Darling

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  18. I would miss the appliances too if I moved to China! But those things you don't miss-- I can see why. I lived in New England for five years and when it started snowing in October it was just so depressing!

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  19. Oh gosh, yes, the cold is ridiculous in most of the States right now. I wouldn't miss driving either. People scare me these days. Most of the are on their phones.

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  20. Missing family is always hard! It is interpreting to see the things you missed... And umm hello I'm with you, totally wouldn't be missing the cold!

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  21. Cheese is e v e r y t h i n g so take that back Lol :) That's a very good point that you made about always missing your family. Thank God for the modern technological advancements we have today which make remaining in contact the easiest it's ever been. Glad you are happy with your decision and get to spend more time with Angel! Have a great one Rachel -Iva

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  22. I loved this post, especially the end where you talk about living away from family. Where to settle is a question my hub and I think about/discuss all the time, especially now since my husband is about to graduate and we are going to start looking for job opportunities. I would LOVE to live by my three older sisters and their families, but the area is not my favorite. (Not to mention, my husband will NEVER live there...city life doesn't suit him.) And sometimes, you have to live wherever you can find a job, even if it's really far away from family. OH, but it's so hard to miss out on all of the family closeness! I was a missionary for my church for a year and a half, and didn't see them that whole time...there were times when my heart was aching to see my family. But, it's amazing to see someone like you who have stayed so close to your family, even though you're not physically close. It can be done! It's interesting to see other people's take on it. :) It's pretty cool that Angel was game for moving across the world! (I mean that is assuming he didn't grow up living internationally like you did?) You both are so brave! I think I'm a bit more of a home-body. :) I love to travel, but longterm, I think I'll try to end up close-ish to my parents and siblings... less than a 10 hour drive would be ideal! :) You are coser your parents/siblings more now, right?

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  23. Like Wallace and Gromit would say, " Cheeeeeeeese!"

    Let me tell you, it started to snow here today a bit and it is super depressing.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  24. You hit the nail on the head, girlfriend. I agree with everything you said in this post!! I'm so glad we are experiencing all this stuff "together" :)

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  25. Awww Rach. I know how you feel and have forced myself to ignore any negativity from my family when it comes to me not "being around" or "being too busy." If by "being too busy," they mean supporting my husband, raising my daughter in a stable, safe environment, and doing what I can to maintain my sanity, then yes. I am way too busy. Way too busy for the drama.

    Those who truly belong in your life will love and respect your decision, not load on the guilt and make you feel the need to defend yourself. Which is not necessarily what I think you were doing here - it's just something I remember struggling with, the guilt.

    I will play in the snow for ya ;)

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  26. Such a great list, Rachel. And yes, it's snowing in PA already too so you do have a point. :)
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.blogspot.com

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  27. Wait. People have actually said #5 to you!? That shocks me!

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  28. This was an interesting list to read. I find America does have some funny quirks to it. I have to agree with the whole winter bit.

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  29. Does it typically not snow in your area of China? I'd love a warm, snow-less winter. We've already had 20* weather and a mini-snow. I'm good.

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  30. Aw, that's hard that you must miss so much that happens in your family. I think that is definitely something that must help you and Angel grow your relationship in ways which other circumstances would not prompt you to grow. I think you have a great husband that you can lean on during the times you will be sad or feel like you miss out on important things.

    On the 'oh you speak Chinese' note, that is so annoying when people do that, and SO disrespectful to such a complex language and culture. I sometimes just wish people would inform themselves a little bit before spewing things out of their mouths.

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  31. Hey Rachel. What a deep sharing from you. I guess it is really difficult to perform many duties with the relocation. Ah, sometimes I find the way non-Chinese esp the Caucasians refer as to ching chong very funny. It could be demeaning but sometimes I like to laugh it off.

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière

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  32. Haha I love these lists. I can completely relate! I also, wish I had more space and Mexican food!!! I'm the same way though and love that my husband comes home at a normal hour instead of 10:00 PM. There will always be pros and cons.

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  33. Thanks for sharing with us. I don't think I would be as good about being away as you are, and I admire you guys. But seriously. Cheese. I didn't even think of that! They really don't have cheese there?

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  34. What a interesting list. Though not the same thing at all, I often find it very cool how quickly I adapt to life when we're traveling in living without the bulk of our usual household items and other possessions. I wouldn't say we own a ton, but there is a unique sense of liberation that comes when you realize that you're getting on just fine without them and that you don't even miss a lot of the things you're usually surrounded by day in and day out.

    ♥ Jessica

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