Dear Ann

Samuel Hocking. Current location: Bristol, England.

Dear Ann,

When we met, I considered myself to be relatively new to the online dating scene. But after only a few days of talking, I arranged to meet you at Bristol Cathedral. You had come from Beijing, China to the UK to study for a Master’s degree. You had also taken it upon yourself to plan the first date, which was a major plus in my book! With that in mind, I made sure I was there early, arriving just before 8pm on 6th November 2015.
     The first time I saw you, you were attempting to give money to a homeless man on the street, who, as it turned out, wasn’t even homeless at all but a street artist from Scotland. This honest mistake broke the ice instantly and we didn’t stop talking until you had gotten on the bus to go home.
     We had arrived at the chosen venue for our date; a cool tapas restaurant on the harbourside I never knew even existed. However, you being blissfully unaware of Sunday trading laws, the restaurant was closed. Throwing caution to the wind, we instead opted for the closest available alternative – a Sainsbury’s meal deal and a few bottles of cider by the water. Classy!

I look forward to seeing where our next date takes us. Perhaps we could go back to that tapas restaurant, this time when it’s open?

Dear Ann,

It’s only been a few months but we’ve been seeing each other every other day. You’ve never been to the UK before and so, naturally, lots of things are very new to you. I remember you telling me once that the clouds looked different in the UK – they apparently looked much fluffier than the ones in China. Then, a week later, as we were walking up Park Street, you cried because it was too windy.
     Since then, I have witnessed you try so many things for the first time and in so many ways, I feel like we are family. I try my best to be there when you need me and you always makes me so proud each and every day. Your reactions and unique perspective on things all seem so strange to me, but I have to remind myself how far you have come. You are from the other side of the world and there are bound to be some differences between us.
     From the first time you tried a parsnip at a Sunday roast (and loved it) to going on your not so successful ‘full-dairy-yogurt diet’ – you always make me laugh. Despite it all, you have always taken a leap forward, being brave and pushing yourself whenever possible. From hosting a pub quiz, which required you to repeat some questions 10 times before the audience could understand, to confusing the environmental term ‘fracking’ for something far more discourteous. Or what about that time when you thought the underground sign read ‘Metropolitician Line,’ or when you named two alpacas in a zoo, ‘Jane’ & ‘Mrs. Peterson’?

I truly love your innocence and the way you see the world.

Dear Ann,

Look how far we’ve come.

There are so many things to say, I don’t know how I can squeeze them all in… The first time you saw a real-life horse because it was illegal to ride one in Beijing; how you laughed splashing in the water the first time I took you swimming because you had always made excuses to get in the water at school; the look of fear and relief on your face when I forced you to go to the dentist to have a tooth removed that had been bothering you for years. Never stop being you!
     You are curious and you see what many of us do not. It is beyond language and instead about understanding – how you see the world through your own eyes. Chasing squirrels and digging up freshly buried nuts, offering anyone your seat on the bus regardless or age – even if it means wide-eyed, angry looks from the middle-aged. You are innocent and naive in all the right ways. I hope I have taught you something too and that together we can learn much more about life, whatever the future may hold for us.
     Life has not always been kind to you, and we have faced lots of struggles together. We have both been there for each other when things seemed most dark. It breaks my heart to see how many people see different cultures and languages as a barrier or something to be taken advantage of. Just please remember that it doesn’t matter where you come from. You are much stronger than they will let you believe. You have a big heart and your truthful actions mirror every essence of who you are.
     My parents brought you a pair of wellies one year and I remember how it made you cry. You’d never worn any in your entire life and I will never forget how you jumped in puddles and laughed. It was the best day and one I will never forget. I have unconditionally let you into my head and heart. It is beyond language and instead on to something much much more.

We are a team. We look after each other. No matter what, I will always be there for you. I hope you will accept me for who I am as I have you. Here’s to the future!


Though life may treat you hard, remember to always be true to who you are.

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