She's From: Taiwan
He's From: United States
Our story is divided into 7 parts and I
encourage you not to jump ahead - but to read it in sequence.
Our love unfolded over the course of a two
year period from opposite sides of the planet, and it is an interesting
and wonderful journey!
very sweaty Chris upon first meeting Sara at the airport in Taiwan
A little about us:
My name is Christopher, I was born in the heartland of the United
States, in Lawrence, Kansas, on May 26, 1965 (the Snake Year). I don't
speak any language except English, and I am not well traveled, although
I'd seen almost the entire United States by the time I reached my teens
due to the travels of my own family. I wrote a science fiction novel I'm
trying to publish and several movie screenplays I'm trying to sell,
co-produced a movie called The First of May a few years back, and was
staffed in the start-up phases of About.com (1996-1998) and Mail.com
(1998-2001). I am directly descended from 4 Mayflower passengers and
King Edward III of England.
Tzu Ching ("Sara") was born in Taichung County, Taiwan in the Chinese
Dog Year, August 13, 1970. She speaks 3 languages: Minnan (native
Taiwanese), Mandarin (common Chinese), and English, and is presently
learning Japanese. In 1998 she was a teacher of English to Taiwanese
children in her home town, having worked at such schools as Hess and
Disney Language School. She drove a cute little red scooter to work. Her
ancestors migrated to Taiwan/Formosa from the area of Fujian on the East
coast of mainland China generations before the mass Exodus of Chiang Kai
Sara has a sweet, adoring personality. She loves kids and kids love her.
She comes from a more traditional culture and has the same vision for
family that I do. She has a great respect for people and is very
responsible to them. She makes me want to be a better man. Her loyalty
towards a partnership and enthusiasm for a healthy, optimistic future
engenders hope, courage and happiness in my life.
This is our story.
May 1998 - "The Bottle"
I was walking alone on a beach one day, a day out of many before it,
looking for something special. It was a treasure hunt you might say, one
which had me believing would never end. But today was different.
Today I found a bottle. I had found many bottles before on this beach,
some pretty, some not, and all of them I tossed away because they had
nothing to offer me of any value. But today was different.
Today there was something inside the bottle. Surely it could not contain
the object of my quest, but if I left the bottle corked and tossed it
back to the sea I would always wonder - what was it inside after all?
When I removed the cork, something magical happened. Living inside the
bottle was a girl from another world, with all the features and
personality I always wanted. Still, I refused to believe it could be the
end of my treasure hunt after all these years. I was afraid I would be
wrong again. I was afraid of being a fool.
But there she was, in full dress, smiling at me. And she said, "I love
A web site, my bottle. And her name, Sara.
On May 5, 1998, I was an extra in the movie "You've Got Mail" directed
by Nora Ephron, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Encouraged by this
idea, I was posting a personal ad at Avenia, a friend-finding service on
the Web (now called WebPersonals).
On May 19, 1998, the ad was seen by a young woman living in Feng Yuan,
Taiwan. She made contact with me. I received her message in a small chat
window, responding to my ad, where I had advertised myself as a
"back-rubbing fool." She said, "Is it true?"
I was unable to send a message back because I think she went offline. So
I checked out her ad. Asian, sounded cute, very nice. No photo. I sent
her a friendly email. I introduced myself to her, pointed her to my home
page, and invited her to meet me in ICQ to chat live. Since she lived in
Taiwan I figured there would be no romance here, but maybe a nice
So we met live in ICQ. Her English was a little broken but I thought it
was so cute that I really enjoyed talking with her. I wanted to know
what she looked like.
Her name was Tzu Ching. It means "Beauty Blue." Ching also sounds like
the Chinese word meaning "Kiss." The English name she chose for herself
She had just gotten a new computer, just found WebPersonals, and I was
the first ad she contacted. It was a beginning...
"Cute" - Summer 1998
So we continued our relationship on ICQ. I could not wait to see what
she looked like! So she emailed me her picture for the first time.
The picture featured her standing in a red jacket with such a cute smile
that I couldn't believe it was real. How cute can a girl get?
And I told her so. She said, "Thank you."
Then I asked for more pictures. And she wanted to send them.
Something began to click between us - something beside our keyboards!
But the big question was, would we admit it to one another.
Every photo she sent me gave me another impression of this marvelous
girl. Cute, sweet, beautiful, pretty, all different themes from casual
to dressy. I felt like I could not get enough of these incredible
pictures, they made my eyes water!
This went on for months. She also said of my pictures that I was very
handsome. Thank God for small miracles!
The internet is an unusual place to meet people, but an effective place
to start meaningful relationships if both parties are sincere with
themselves and with each other.
On the internet, you meet people from the inside out, rather from the
Sara and I were forced to communicate using written words for a long
time, expressing our thoughts and conveying emotion in writing. We said
things to each other we might not have said in person because both of us
tend to be shy. Her English was a little broken as she was still
learning it as her second language, but she knew it well enough to teach
children English in Taiwan. We understood each other well enough to know
there was more passing between us than just words.
The quality of her spirit was genuine, loving, and caring. This was a
very good soul as far down as you can possibly go. I wanted to take a
drink from her spirit every day, and so every day we exchanged words.
I was increasingly impressed by her. Every picture, every email, every
hour on ICQ, sent me further and further into love with this young woman
from the Orient...
But isn't that dangerous? I have never met this girl in person! Am I
being a fool? Some friends said, "What if she doesn't look anything like
her pictures? People lie on the web, don't get taken. What if she is
looking for an American man to get her out of the country? What if it's
a guy pretending to be a girl? What if, what if, what if...?
No, one must trust their instincts, if they have proven in their lives
to have reliable ones. This was no fake, no user, no pipe dream.
Our freindship grew into fondness, our fondness grew into a crush, our
crush grew into love. I wanted to meet her. She wanted to meet me. The
earliest she could visit me was early 1999, if she could get a Visa, but
it was too long to wait. I had to see her sooner... Ironically, on June
14, only weeks after having met her, I had landed a good job at Mail.com
(then called iName). It was a well paying job. I now had the means and
the money to see her. But I had only 2 days of vacatioin time to use, as
the rest had already been booked over Christmas.
What could I do? Well, I already had Thanksgiving Day off from work as a
I surfed into Travelocity.com, found the cheapest flight to Taiwan I
could, pulled out my credit card, and made a commitment.
Life is too short to waste time wondering, "what if...?"
And you have to get used to commitment. It's the clockwork that makes
Life move boldly forward.
After more than 300 emails from her, over 100 photographs of her, after
hundreds of hours of ICQ and AIM chats, after many hours of phone
conversations, after a number of love letters and gifts snail-mailed to
one another, I flew to Taipei, Taiwan on November 25, 1998 to return on
We had discussed with each other how it would be when we first met in
person. Would we be shy? Would we be disappointed? Would we be
frightened, or joyful?
The important thing to me was to make sure our meeting didn't become
problematic due to travelling mishaps.
We tried to make sure we had back-up plans in case things got mixed up.
Suppose I was bumped off my flight and had to take another plane and
could not phone to warn her? Suppose she was stuck in traffic on her 2
hour drive to Taipei from her home town to pick me up? Lots of things
could go wrong. So we made contingencies...
If I wasn't on the plane when it arrived, she was to presume I am on the
next plane. If the next plane was the next day, then she should probably
go home and come back, as likely I would try to call her with details.
If she wasn't there when I got off the plane, I would sit someplace
where I could be easily found and wait for a while, then I would place a
call to her friend Wendy, who spoke English, to see if she left any
messages for me.
"Journey" November 1998
My 20-some-odd hour trip from Brooklyn, New York to Taipei, Taiwan went
without incident. I was not nervous. I had no anxiety. I felt calm and
sure of myself. I couldn't have been more relaxed if I was at home,
waiting for the arrival of a woman I've been married to all my life. I
don't believe I have ever been so complacent about my first meeting with
As I strode stiffly off the plane, I saw nobody at the gate who looked
like Sara. So I followed the crowds down long corridors until I arrived
at a big intersection and a place to sit down. There was no Sara to be
seen. I was getting nervous. Other men might get stood up by their date
who lives on the other side of town, it would be just my luck to get
stood up by a date who lives on the other side of the world.
Can I be that big a chump?
Since it was cold when I left New York, I was wearing a heavy leather
jacket, and in semi-tropical Taiwan you can imagine by now I was
sweating like a race horse. On the other hand, it was an air-conditioned
building. I was starting to think I was crazy. What am I doing here? I
live near a city with tens of thousands of Asians, and I flew to the
opposite side of Earth to meet one?
I waited, and waited, and waited. No Sara.
Finally I found a man who was directing tour groups as they passed
through a merge of hallways nearby and I begged him to help me. He
barely spoke any English. He didn't want to help much because he was too
busy. Stupid Americans.
I called one last time and this time I got through to someone, but it
could have been a wrong number. They answered in Chinese.
"Tzu Ching," I said to the people on the line.
"Blah blah blah," they said in Chinese.
After a sweaty, helpless pause, I repeated, "Tzu Ching Wu?"
"Blah blah blah," they said again.
I hung up on them.
Then a kind Chinese gentleman using the phone beside me saw that I was
in a restrained panic and with only a scant English vocabulary he
offered to help me. I had run out of coins. The beeps at them. So he
used his phone card. I pointed at the numbers on my note pad and he
dialed them correctly.
He spoke to someone on the line for a minute or two. I had no idea what
they were saying. I imagined he was telling them there was a sweating
American man at the airport looking for a girl at this number. How
embarassing. I began sweating harder. This was the number to her house,
supposedly. But when he hung up he said, "She not there."
I was not sure if this meant she lived there and wasn't home or if she
didn't live there. He could not understand my English good enough to
figure out the meaning of this difficult question. So he motioned me to
follow him back down the hall, through the intersectioin where I stopped
originally, around a few corners, and to a large customs depot. I stared
at it, at all the passengers in lines, the suitcases, the agents...
A dreadful thought finally plunged a big clog of naivety out of my brain
so that all the color drained out of my face.
She can't come in to meet me on THIS side, she will be waiting on the
OTHER side of customs! I looked at my watch.
Over an hour had passed since I arrived!
So I jumped in line in customs. It seemed to take forever. I watched all
those passengers ahead of me. The people I had gotten off the plane with
had gone through these lines and had been gone from the airport for some
time. And here I was, making my date wait.
Would she be waiting?
For all I knew, she could be on her way home, broken hearted and
confused, or hopeful that I would be on a plane tomorrow!
I poured forth a new layer of sweat just waiting through those lines.
Finally I was through the line, and almost sprinted to the escelator. I
descended. Every second seemed like an hour now. At the bottom of the
escellator was a huge waiting area with crowds of families and friends
and associates waiting for passengers behind a rail. There are moments
when you make a mistake that you feel like an idiot. Here I am,
publishing this one to the web, itself an idea of questionable sanity.
But the moments that followed will be ones that I will remember all my
life, replaying over and over again in my head.
I stopped at the bottom of the escalator, in full view of hundreds of
people. I scanned them for Sara. I could not see her. For some reason I
felt like every one of these people knew my stupid mistake, and ignored
me out of pity. I walked along the line of people in one direction. I
could not see my Sara. My heart was beating faster than ever now. Would
I recognize her? Would she recognize me? What if she didn't look at all
like any of her pictures?
All of the things that I should have worried about on the plane caught
up to me in a span of 60 seconds.
I turned around and walked the other way, carefully examining every
stranger on the other side of the rail.
I felt like a really ugly model on a fashion runway, showing off the new
sweat-soaked-leather-jacket line with my trendy wheeled carry-on baggage
going "squeak... squeak... squeak..." along behind me.
I was reaching the other end of the line.
Suddenly I saw a woman I have known all my life!
It was a very magical moment for me. She popped up out of the back of
the crowd, jumping up and down, waving at me with such happiness that I
felt like a cool breeze suddenly blew over me. She was so familiar to me
- how could I have thought I would not recognize her?
But of course a hand rail and a wall of people blocked us from one
another, so we had to hurry along the barrier to its end so that we
could converge. It took longer than I expected, but I sort of skipped
along like a ballet dancer, glancing over the crowd and waving at her
and smiling every three seconds while she did the same, almost losing
control of my luggage that now flailed along behind me with an
Suddenly the rail ended, the people ended, and there was nothing but
space between me and the woman I loved. We raced into each other's arms
I wanted to say the most romantic line I could possibly think of,
something that would sweep her off her feet, to make her first meeting
of me so memorable that she would draw tears thinking back to this
moment. We stood looking at each other and my brain raced and came up
with the words to say...
The first words I spoke to the woman of my future were, "I'm really
Yep, that's it. The first page of the first chapter of the first book of
our life together starts off with the meaningful and touching words,
"I'm really sweaty." True, I could have thought of something a little
more romantic. But until now I rarely perspired at all, and certainly
nothing this bad before, and for some reason my giddy brain thought this
was a convenient time to convince her of that. To my disadvantage,
however, I didn't complete the train of thought. But it didn't matter.
She couldn't have cared less whether I was sweating or not. She was
glowing, and melting my heart like ice cream. I apologized and told her
what happened, and she understood. I removed my jacket. I looked like a
puppy that had just been let in from the rain.
She asked a stranger to take our picture.
Then she walked me out to the car - her sister's car, which she had
borrowed - and there was a large bouquet of flowers on the passenger
seat for me.
The drive back to her home town of Feng Yuan (prounced "PHONE-yuen" was
over an hour in the dark, so we couldn't see each other but through
passing road lights most of the time. We talked and listened to music
and with racing hearts finally ventured to hold hands.
That was the beginning of a very romantic weekend on the island of
Taiwan, November 26-29, 1998.
>> Continued in