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China for me is like an old boyfriend.  In the beginning it was really hard.  We struggled to understand each other, and even when we started learning each others language, he’d still do things that would astonish or aggravate me.  Little by little we came closer together, and the pain, intimacy and joy that we shared turned into a deep and permanent love.  But then there came a time when I knew I just couldn’t stay.  I wanted to see who else was out there.  I didn’t  love him any less, and I wished him well, but I knew he wasn’t who I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.    I’ll always treasure the good times we had, the things he taught me, and how beautiful he made me feel.  If I ever get the chance I’ll embrace him again as an old friend and shout out, “How have you BEEN?  DAMN, but it’s good to see you!”

Now I’m with Russia, and like any relationship when things start to go sour, you look at what you gave up and wonder if you made a mistake.  I was attracted to Russia.  He’s beautiful.  He’s cultured.  He has a mysterious past that enchants me.  China was unique.  Russia I feel I’ve seen before in the faces of many countries.  China was bewildering and fascinating because nothing was familiar.  Russia has the comfort of familiarity but lacks the excitement of weirdness.  I look at the things Russia does and think sadly that it’s not the way China used to do it.  I considered going back to my ex and saying, “I’m so sorry I left.  I still love you.  Will you take me back?”

I told Russia I’d stay, and I will.  I haven’t tried speaking his language because it’s difficult and embarrassing, and it’s so hard starting at the beginning all over again. Right now I’m uncertain and hesitant, and I don’t see how this can work out.  But I’m willing to try.  We’ll learn to be gracious with each other.  I know that we’ll have those times of laughter and sorrow, and that we’ll be all the closer because of it.