In China, lovers are often said “to have the destiny to meet across one thousand li.” For my Chinese husband, John, and I, it wasn’t just one thousand li — it was ten thousand li.
Distance, of course, is all relative.
I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, and John in the countryside of Zhejiang Province. I knew the distance between us, something around 8,000 or more English miles apart (almost 13,000 kilometers). But this kind of distance, where separation is measured by miles, by continents, is as meaningless as the “Model Unit” plaques adorning work units all over China.
So what is it that can turn a thousand li into ten thousand?
I wrote the series Memoirs of a Yangxifu to explore this idea, to look at what it took for one Western woman and one Chinese man to overcome the distance — cultural, mental, even physical — to become a couple.
Six years ago today, John and I stood before the great seal of the People’s Republic of China, and bridged the final distance between us — being lawfully married. I signed a little red book as scarlet as the knit top I wore, and pledged myself to him, forever.
Over the months, I pledged myself to you, the reader, as well — to share this story with you in all of its honesty. You helped me bridge the distance, as I poured my heart out on the pages with your support behind it all.
So, what’s next? I’m closing the series Memoirs of a Yangxifu on my blog — but not in my writing. Some of you know I’m working on a manuscript behind the screen, and many more stories not published here will find a home in that book.
Here’s my new posting schedule:
On Mondays, I’ll post an essay, much like many of the Memoirs of a Yangxifu entries, exploring love, life and family in China. But I’ll jump around in time. It may be a more recent revelation, or a remembrance of something far in the past.
Every 2nd Wednesday, I’ll still run my travel series, Travel China with the Yangxifu.
On Fridays, I’ll still run my Ask the Yangxifu column, offering advice on love, life and family for cross-cultural couples in China, or with ties to Chinese culture.
However, this Wednesday, I’ll be looking back on the Memoirs of a Yangxifu series with a list of the top 10 most popular entries. What were your favorite stories? Let me know and I’ll be sure to share them.
Sometimes, I’m amazed by how John and I went from flirting to forever. I cannot even claim to say it was only love that kept us together, and helped us overcome the distance. I’ve known many a couple in love that eventually gave up. I’ve even loved Chinese men before John, and our love withered away into that abyss between us.
But maybe that’s why that Chinese expression begins like this: “to have the destiny…”
Have you felt you had a certain destiny with the People’s Republic of China?
(Also, if you have favorite stories from the Memoirs of a Yangxifu series, let me know!)
Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, you can start at Chapter 1, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.