Nina:
It's strange how things happen... you are trudging through the mundane weary lanes of life when suddenly, out of nowhere, love walks in and touches your life in a way that you know that nothing could ever be the same again...
>> Continued
 

 

 
     
 

 
 

She's From:   Taiwan
He's From:     United States

Chapter 4 - "Baltimore" Summer 1999

Sara and I moved forward with our relationship carefully but steadily. I wanted to propose to her, and she wanted me to. But first things first. We wanted to meet each other's families, and in her case it was necessary before she could be allowed to move out of her house and come to live with me in America.

  Chris and Sara at "King Henry's Feast"
in Florida
  She would meet my families first. So on July 24, 1999, Sara flew back to visit me again. This time I took time off from work and we travelled around the US. First, we rented a car and drove down to Baltimore, Maryland to stay over at Yufan's house. Yufan is a highschool friend of Sara's who immigrated here from Taiwan years ago. Sara had a good time catching up with an old friend. Together with Wen, Yufan's roommate, we went to a Crab house. I don't like Crab myself, but when they dumped the crabs out on the table in front of us Sara went into a feeding frenzy! Give little harmless Sara a hammer and some fresh crabs and stand back, because claws and shell fragments will start flying.

 

 



   

 

 
       
  I hid behind my modest fish sandwich until the carnage was over.

"Capital"

The next day, Sara and I toured Washington, D.C. I had never done this myself. We had a very good time.We walked all around The Mall (which is the large set of parks surrounded by national monuments and landmarks), and also took a bus tour.

We visited most of the Presidential memorials, and also got to tour the inside of the White House. I was amazed how long the lines were - it was like a Disney ride. All you really do is walk through a few of the rooms inside the house that are for the public to see, which are only used on occasion by White House officials for special press invitations with special guests and so forth. The Secret Service Agents were interesting, standing inside every roped off room with arms folded, guarding it from who knows what. Some of them were friendly and chatted with me when I asked something, others were very serious and tightly wound. You may notice in the photo below that the White House flag was at half-mast. This was due to John F. Kennedy Jr.'s death in the airplane crash.

We also toured the U.S. Capital Building and the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress was the most beautiful building (inside) that I had ever seen.


Sara and Chris at the Lincoln Memorial
 

"Mom"

We then drove down to Florida to visit my mother. This was a very important meeting for both Sara and my mother, who had a lot of anxieties about the situation. But they got along splendidly, as I had predicted, and bonded quickly. Both are teachers of children, and have old fashioned family values.

Sara enjoyed Mom's pool. People don't have their own swimming pools in Taiwan, and Sara loves to swim!

That evening we took Mom and my sister Shana to King Henry's Feast, a local tourist attraction where you eat in a castle at a large table and watch "medieval" entertainment such as sword swallowers,, acrobats and jokers. Mom thoroughly enjoyed herself. Sara and I had our "King and Queen" costume picture taken (see above). 

"Theme Park"

Sara and I spent a very hot day at the new section of Universal Studios Florida which had some outstanding features to it. My favorite is the front entrance to a roller coaster called The Dueling Dragons. I didn't ride the roller coaster because, well, I don't like roller coasters. I get motion sickness too easily. But I'm a big dragon fan!

Universal Studios Florida was my old stomping ground back in 1989-1993. I had co-founded a company with an office in Building 22 there (their only production office building at the time) before the theme park was built. I watched them build the original park from scratch. This is the place where I met Steven Spielberg in person in 1990. The place has changed tremendously.

Sara and I enjoyed the look-and-feel of the place more than anything, and of course I enjoyed Jurassic Park (I'm a big dinosaur fan too) but I wished there had been more to it (a little too geared for kiddies).

"Orlando"

There are some other interesting things to do in Orlando. Tourist attractions sprang up from nowhere during the years I lived there between 1989 and 1996, and even more afterward I think. Two late-comers are Wonderworks and Ripley's Believe It or Not!, both of which were very impressive on the outside but a little disappointing on the inside, for anyone who wants something of "Disney" level entertainment.

I took Sara to both and we had a good time - I think more because we simply enjoy being together. It doesn't matter what we are doing. I feel so much comfort just knowing she is nearby, even if we are both working on our own projects or driving quietly.

Sara had a blast with one of the features inside Wonderworks, laughing and playing like a little girl on a playground. 

"Krissy and Joe"

Our next big day was to drive down to the Tampa area and visit my old and dear friends, Krissy and Joe. I met Krissy in 1990 at Universal Studios Florida, where I had a production office (see history of SHO Entertainment).

Krissy - like most of my closest friends - likes to track what I'm doing interpersonally to make sure it meets with her approval. Kind of like my Mom, but without the family politics. Everyone needs a few friends like this to keep them in check while they are single.

As with Mom, Sara and I won Krissy's heart and a thumb's up!

I also took Sara to the synagogue of Rabbi John Fischer, a friend of mine who hosted the Israel tour I joined in 1993. Sara got to see a Jewish Shabbat service. She got to meet the Rabbi and also John Glickman and his wife (whom I met on that tour). Krissy and Joe, John and Esther and the Rabbi and his wife Patrice all see each other a lot as friends now, as they all live and work in the same area.

"Dad"

Sara and I finally turned in our Rental Car and flew to Ft. Worth Texas for the next leg of our voyage. Here we stayed with my Dad and my step-mother Brenda who have a large house on a lake.

Dad took us for a ride around the lake on his motor boat on a nice sunny afternoon.

"Mick and Connie"

While in Texas, Sara and I stopped to see my best friend Mick and his family. I used to hang out with Mick during my college days, before he was married - although we were not in college together. With his wife Connie he has 3 children now - Rachel, Alyssa and Jonathan.

We took the kids to the Rain Forest Cafe, and I also left Sara with the kids so Mick and I could go and goof off together for a while. Kids are a constant entertainment to Sara.

Like with Krissy, Mick put in his own evaluation of Sara and my feelings about her. Mick used his own kids as a guide - seeing that they really took a strong liking to Sara, especially baby Jonathan who is ordinarily very shy. Sara not only won over Jonathan, Jonathan won over Sara. All she could talk about for weeks afterward was how cute Jonathan was, and how she can't wait to have babies.

Does anyone hear a ticking sound?

"Bronx Zoo"

After a solid 2 weeks of family, friends and fun, we finally flew back to New York and spent a week recovering. Sara was very happy and liked all my friends and family that she had met so far, and she said for sure that she wanted to move in with me, and marry me. All I had to do was ask! But not yet, I said. Not yet. I wanted to do this right, and we still had some complications to work through - like, how to immigrate from her country.

We spent a relaxing day at the Bronx Zoo, another attraction I had never seen.

While we were there, I was waiting for Sara to come out of the Ladies' Room and attempted to sit down on a chain fence, but the chain was not secure. Taken by surprise, I had put my full weight on the chain and fell straight to the ground like a rock. I rolled over, my bag got tangled in the process, and I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I also knocked the wind out of me a bit.

So it was quite a struggle to get up and retain what was left of my dignity, as strangers walking by were either staring at me or trying to ignore me like a drunk. But my rib hurt the rest of the day, and I didn't tell Sara about my accident until that evening. I couldn't sleep on my side for weeks. Sara put some brown smelly stuff on my chest and wrapped it in gauze every night - she said it was Chinese medicine, but to this day I don't know what it was made of. However, I got to see the Nurse side of Sara for the first time, and I was very pleased and grateful.

"Care"

Ever since I moved to New York I have developed a problem with my feet. Actually two problems - one is wear-and-tear arthritis in the joints of my toes which is due to having flat feet combined with a particular manner of walking. In 1996 before I moved from Orlando, an Orthopedist gave me hard orthodics to wear in my shoes, to compensate for my flat feet and hopefully reduce further grinding of my toe joints.

However, in my first year in White Plains when I worked at About.com (then called The Mining Company) I walked to the train station every day on these hard orthodics, and developed a second problem. The pounding of the hard insoles against my heels every day - and shifting more weight on my heels to alleviate the discomfort of my toes - gave me Chronic Plantar Fasciitis. This is damage to the Plantar Fascia muscle on the bottom of the foot, resulting in inflammatory pain, and it's extremely hard to heal. It's like walking on bruises all the time, and after 2 weeks of touring the nation my feet were killing me. 

So every time Sara visited me she would give me foot rubs. But I felt terrible because I felt as though I was becoming more crippled every year. She should marry a healthy, strong man, not one who complains of foot pain every day. I wanted to move forward with the first of many corrective surgeries on my feet the next time Sara visited me, which would be February 2000. Sara wanted to nurse me through that, because I would be on crutches for several weeks and it would not be comfortable.

In addition to that I decided to make another corrective change. I had been nearsighted all my life, wearing heavy Photo-grays on my face, as you have seen from all the photos thus far. But a couple days before Sara returned to Taiwan again, she accompanied me to a well established doctor in the area who performs LASIC surgery and I had myself tested. We scheduled for my surgery to take place in a couple of weeks in a lab in Long Island. I would do this all by myself, but they said I would only miss 1 day of work. Afterward, I would not need these glasses ever again! Someday in my older age I might need reading glasses (for far-sighted) as most aged people do, but between now and then I would be able to read the 20/20 line on the chart without help! 

Sara was very concerned that she could not be here to take care of me, but I wanted to get this done so that I no longer needed glasses to see her beautiful face every day!

With that, once again we said our good-byes, returning to Instant Messenger every day to maintain our love until February 2000...

"Chris"

>> Continued in Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven.