Miss Gioia

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Story - Part 1

I opened my email this morning to a really nice request from Johnny for some details of my story. Even though I feel awkward, I am happy to answer questions - primarily because I have enjoyed reading his story so much.

I want to start with a picture. This is actually one of the family life pictures that went into our adoption dossier. It is crazy how you take a billion pictures, but somehow so very few of them seem right for the CCAA.

This was taken on a group ski trip to Austria - the very first Ski Other Countries.* It was our first international trip together, and it was a lovely, lovely time - despite the fact that we were both sick as dogs almost the whole visit. We are on the top of some castle museum in Saltzburg here. Not sure if you can tell, but we were freezing our a**es off.

When the social worker came to do our inquisition, she asked us to talk about what we did for fun. We both said: we travel. Homegirl was not satisfied with that response, though, and kept asking the question. We were confused as to why she needed a better answer. Yes, we scuba dive and ski, but to really understand us, you have to know that, between the two of us, we visited ten countries last year: Egypt, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, the UAE and the United States. Besides China and the United States, Chris has lived in Canada and the United Kingdom, while I have lived in the Philippines and Bangladesh. Completing our child abuse clearances and compiling a list of all the places we have lived for the last 20 years was a nightmare.

Traveling is in my blood. I was raised in Asia as a child, and it gave me an insatiable wanderlust. Chris lived all over North America when he was young, and his dad, uncle, and grandparents were born in the Netherlands. We are peas in a pod, he and I.

The problem with all of this is that it really makes us weirdos back home. Our friends have a hard time relating to us. They either think that our stories are not interesting or (even worse) they think we are bragging when we talk about life in China or our latest trip to Angkor Watt. When we were preparing to move to Shanghai, one of Chris' friends took me aside and told me I was crazy, completely crazy to move to China. As I looked at his face, I could tell that he would never understand why we were going. Would never understand that China's growth right now is one of the most interesting phenomena on the planet. Would never understand that there is life - good fulfilling life - outside of Atlanta.

Chris and I lived in Chicago for three years before we came to China. We moved there together (but initially lived separately...), got married there, bought a house together, adopted Frankie. But we kept talking about how neat it would be to live outside of the United States again.** So I told my work that we wanted to do an international rotation - a long one, somewhere cool. Surprisingly, they agreed to send us here, first to Shanghai and now Beijing. So we packed most of our stuff into storage, shipped some clothes and a nice mattress to Shanghai and flew halfway across the world with our dog.

And that is how we came to China.

*We have organized two other SOC trips with our friends since this one: to Canada and to Argentina. All three have been riots. The next one is probably to Japan in the very near future (we hope).

**It is much, much easier to live internationally when you have someone with whom you can share the experience, vent your frustrations, laugh at the silliness. When I came back to the United States after living in Manila in 2000, I decided that I would not do it again unless I was married.



Blogger Johnny said...

So, lesson learned.

Manila = Marriage Proposal


(thx btw)

April 26, 2007 2:39 AM  
Anonymous Amy in River Garden said...

Um...I don't think living overseas and traveling are weird. But then again I live less than 1/2 mile from you in China!!

April 26, 2007 6:21 AM  
Blogger kris said...

What an incredible, full life... I am too a traveler at heart (not to be confused with a tourist I guess).

I was so shocked to see you lived in Bangladesh. That country is so close to my heart, and I have such FOND memories of it. I lived there as a child, from ages 8-10. Someday, I should write about that.

Glad I found your site. It's wonderful.

April 26, 2007 8:32 AM  

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