This weekend, I had quite a difficult conversation while Skyping with my mom. It was difficult in a few ways:
- the call kept dropping.
- yes, mom, I’m eating enough, stop making silly jokes about Chinese food. (Is this where I get my awful sense of humour?)
- my mother’s Russian national pastime is to pester me about my personal life.
As she shamed me in that perfect Russian-mom way about not calling enough (true, but with internet speed like mine, she’s lucky that I am calling her as much as I do, which is already quite often), with just enough guilt to make me feel bad, holding up her iPad in a way that I could only see her pinky toes (the concept of FaceTime where you know, you actually see the face, hasn’t reached her yet), she asked me how B was. I was thrown off, because to be honest, I didn’t know.
B and I haven’t talked in months. He hasn’t really crossed my mind in months. And that’s when I remembered: I never told my mom that I had broken up with my ex-boyfriend. Call it what you want: embarrassment, convenience, laziness (honestly, it’s probably laziness and being slightly terrified of her), but my mom is still completely oblivious to the fact that we haven’t seen each other, as much as held a conversation in over half a year. Since she liked him, I haven’t had the heart to tell her. How’s that for a light conversation with mom?
I’ve been purposefully trying not to write too many details about my personal life on this blog, because:
- Honestly, I have no idea who reads these posts.
- This is really first piece of online writing that I have attached my name to, and it feels.. inappropriate to mention names.
Which brings me to this post. I’m breaking my own rules (a little), but this has been weighing on my mind. I think I’m finally ready to move on (whatever that entails). For months, I’ve been trying to avoid seeking out people to date for a few reasons.
- I was leaving for Shanghai.
- I had a thesis to finish.
- I wanted to be respectful to the almost 3 years B and I spent together.
All that aside, I’ve considered myself to be single since March. Although the ‘official’ words were not spoken until much later (what can I say? I’m bad at being direct), the last few months of our relationship were downright miserable. B made me feel awful and undesirable (I don’t know if you’re reading this, but if you are, I’m sorry, but it was true). I remember all of my friends asking me if I was okay after the break-up and honestly, the emotion I felt strongest was neither sadness, regret, nor devastation. It was.. relief. I felt like I had moved on (emotionally?) by April, but now that Summer is over and I’ve settled into my crazy and wonderful life in Shanghai (but not yet its tap water), I feel that I can finally move on.
Whether that’ll actually involve dating is another story. I feel like it’s more about a shift in mental attitude rather than an actual milestone. For some reason, this week in particular has been more painful than the rest. Maybe it’s because Summer is finally over (everything, except for Shanghai’s ever-so 85ºF weather is starting to reflect that). My friends are either returning to school, celebrating Labor Day (another holiday that does not exist in China, although the Mid-Autumn festival is coming up and red bean moon cakes are quite delicious), or Instagramming photos of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. The shifting seasons are making our divide feel so much more vast. And while it’s still so comforting to hear about the Rugby Team, a new semester in Medical School, or Moscow (it’s delightful that A is only 4 hours away now and I get to hear his stories in real time), it only serves to underscore that I’m not there, but here, starting my adult life, thousands of miles away from the people I care about. Moving on means not only moving on from my past relationship, but moving on from the things holding me back in the US. It means being okay with starting my 20s here, away from the people I love.
There’s something about the crisp September air coming in that is reminding me of Fall in New England. Last Wednesday, I went to Flair, a bar on the 58th floor of an office tower, overlooking the Huangpu, the Shanghai TV tower, and the Bund. The entire night was a picturesque haze (largely because the pollution levels were off the charts) We sipped our beers right next to the Shanghai Pearl Tower and taking in the view from the top.
The Mid-Autumn Festival
There’s nothing quite like a national holiday to make you feel out of place in a foreign country. As I’ve discovered, the mid-autumn festival is celebrated on September 5th (which still doesn’t feel like autumn, especially in the still-present sweltering heat) . It’s celebrated by.. well, honestly I’m not sure. I know people buy moon cakes: eggy pastries filled with red bean, custard, or salted egg yolk (not my favorite), but how/when/why they eat them, I haven’t been told. So far, far the holiday seems to be all about food, and with Thanksgiving being my favorite time of the year, who am I to judge?
Girls’ Brunch & Chinese Yoga
This Sunday, I did something unexpected and out of character. It was something I hadn’t done in years and possibly the most foreign thing I’ve done in my entire time in Shanghai: I had brunch with five other girls and spent the afternoon shopping wit them. Having a large group of female friends a la one of those 90s sitcoms like Sex and the City is incredible foreign. I’m so used to hanging out with guys, being a tomboy, discussing computers or being a nerd, but this is also nice, unexpectedly so. I haven’t been part of a group of ‘ladies who brunch’ in so long. I didn’t know what to talk to about (nails? boys? cramps?).
On a lighter note, I finally found a yoga studio in Shanghai. Well, technically I found three. Feeling out of place, a little angry, and scatterbrained about life last week, I decided it was time to pick up yoga again and get my head back on track. So far the classes have been (for the most part) delightful, though not to the same dedication as in the Breathing Room back home. It’s hard not to complain and be a baby about a teacher’s style, because Tobie did something a specific way back home and I’m not used to the new way, but I guess that’s not the whole point of yoga. Yoga is about letting go, flowing, and acceptance. What is the whole point of yoga? Getting my legs over my shoulders? (I can still do that, I checked this afternoon) Having toned arms from doing push-ups? (that, I still can’t do, but I’m on my way) Finding inner peace? I feel like, just like my last practice in New Haven, I need to trust my body. I need to follow what it tells me. I need to stop zoning out and falling over in Triangle pose.
I literally just followed your blog, and I have to say, I don’t regret it. Haha. From reading this post, I know what you’re going through (well, other than moving on from a man and partaking in yoga, I can relate). Haha. If it’s any consolation, it’s a milestone that you’re moving on. At least, that’s how I felt when I finally did. p.s. I now have this urge to visit Shanghai. Haha.
Thanks for following the blog! 🙂 I’m trying to find a good balance between writing about my personal life and my experiences in Shanghai without revealing too much or going the other way and being too vague. If you ever do make it out to Shanghai, let me know! I have many pointers on what to do (and more importantly what not to do haha)
You’re welcome, and I’ll hold you to that offer. I can’t afford anymore “what not to do” incidents. Haha. As for the intention of your blog and posts; very interesting. Looking forward to more reads from you, Maria. 🙂
Frivolous Monsters says
An American gal with a Russian mother living in China?
You really are a citizen of the World, aren’t you.
I understand about the personal stuff rule, but I do the complete opposite. I’ve tried very hard to hang on to practically complete anonymity – although it doesn’t mean some people I write about haven’t found me – adrift from (most) friends and (all) family so I’m not constrained in worrying what I write about because of who I fear may be looking. I think I’ve only ever included two or three pictures of myself on my blog in two years.
But can I ask, as I’m a regular on your blog now, although there’s one thing I’ve not picked up yet, and it seems the obvious question: why have you moved to Shanghai?
That’s an interesting, but difficult question. The short answer is, I don’t know. The long(er) answer is to run away from everything back home. I feel like it warrants a full post, so I’ll dedicate my next one to it. 🙂
Posting something non-anonymously on the internet is a little terrifying, isn’t it? Every time I see that someone clicked a link from my Instagram, I am intensely curious as to who it could be. I’ve had a few blogs before (mostly Tumblrs) where I posted a lot more freely, but I decided to put my name on this one out of curiosity more so than anything.
Frivolous Monsters says
I did wonder if there was just some blog post somewhere, if I went far enough back, that you could just point me to. Now I see there’s a whole big mystery. China to me seems low on the list of places that I would run to, so alien is the language and culture in comparison, so I guess that’ll take some explaining if you feel it’s something you can share.
And I’ll put my hands up and say I have clicked the other way, from here to your Instagram thing, so you can put me on that list.
Ahh yes, there is one post that might be helpful https://pastarepublic.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/bad-omens/) but there really were a plethora of reasons that I’ve been drafting.