Iggy received this earlier in the week:
“Love these long naps and pollution free days! Almost enough to make me not mind living in China!”
From yours truly.
I spend so much of my time bitching about this place. I think you understand why. If you don’t, scroll through my archives. If you don’t have time for that, here’s a quick recap of events in the last two weeks. We’ll call it a little peek into our China lives:
- An all day power outage from 7am to 8pm. At least we were given notice this time.
- A surprise power outage due to an unusual-for-these-parts thunderstorm. Which woke Baby K. On a night Iggy was working.
- A leak from our apartment into our downstairs neighbor’s. Proposed solution by property management: drill into our floor even though the cause wasn’t yet known. Our response: hell no.
- Two words: night shift. No fun for Iggy but it messes with our schedules, too.
- One word: algae and along with it a gagable fishy sea stench but not so unpleasant kelly green hue that pops off an otherwise drab coast line.
These days — most days — it’s a struggle for me here. I’m ready to go home. To a country where I speak the language and understand how things work. One where I can go outside without having to check pollution levels. Where I can drive whenever I want to wherever. A place where I don’t have to worry about mold, flaking “paint,” or frequent leaks. And, if I did, at least I’d be able to call a reputable repair man. I want to be back in a country where life is easier. For me. For Iggy. For Baby K.
Amid all these feelings and downer events of the last couple weeks, the sfmog of my China-onset depression somehow lifted. Literally and, so with it, figuratively. Let’s hope not just temporarily. We’ve had almost a week of blue sky days with cotton ball cloud puffs that by late afternoon thin out, turn wispy, and pick up the pinks and purples and peaches of the setting sun. The singular landscape that surrounds us has become visible once again — green crops grow on the flat parcels of land nearby and even the craggy mountain tops I’d forgotten about stand tall in the distance. I’ve been savoring the views on my evening runs, which make me nostalgic for the bike rides we took on humid nights in 2013, our first summer here. Back then we could stay out as long as we wanted and go where we wanted. Baby K wasn’t even a thought, so we didn’t worry about stray dogs or riding through random villages or scoping out someone’s empty fishing hut.
Speaking of Baby K, she’s partly responsible for my new found contentment. After months of various tactics, she’s finally settled in to an acceptable schedule. One with naps that occur at the same time every day and wake-ups and bedtimes we deem doable. Her previously preferred 5am to 5pm schedule was crushing us. Well, mainly me.
Along with maturing sleep patterns, she’s growing up in other ways. Over the last month she’s transformed into a big little person with more awareness and personality. She’s pulling all kinds of new stunts. She slithers around like a plump slug leaving a trail of drool all over the apartment. She spends large chunks of her time perfecting the art of sitting up. She grunts, inhales deeply, and exhales dramatically as she tries with all her tiny might to stand up on whatever is within arms length — a coffee table, the couch, a bookshelf, our legs. She grabs our noses when we ask her where they are and pulls off blocks from our heads and puts them back. She moans “mooooom, moooom” nonstop as she plays, scoots, and stands. It’s like she knows her roots lie in Western PA with the slow drawn out pronunciation of the word. At times, we mourn for the little helpless ball of baby she so recently was but mostly revel in the engaging person she’s becoming.
The clear days and happy baby stuff were all I needed to improve my mood. But on top of these, we unexpectedly acquired several bags of imported canned goods. A trivial occurrence anywhere else but in the food wasteland that is Haiyang. One expat’s leftovers are another’s precious bounty — one that would normally require a four-hour round trip to Qingdao and cost upwards of $150 USD. We scored it all for a mere $40 and a short walk to a departing neighbor’s apartment.
Frequent power outages, months of pollution, and other only in China stuff have made this a tough four years. But this week, of all weeks, I don’t mind living in China. Knowing we’ve only got a few short months left helps put our lives here in a more positive perspective. The struggles have at times been real, but worth it in many ways. We’re looking at cars, thinking about renting versus buying homes, and, in general, envisioning what life back home will soon be like. With a kid. It brings on all kinds of emotions. Sometimes we get a little panicky, but mostly we’re excited. Definitely never depressed.