| This is the 4th story of Our Life Logs |
Dreams must be chased, for if we wait for them to chase us we will live a life of waiting.
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
I have always felt like I am chasing something. I could never really explain what it is. I just have this feeling that I am after something that I have not fully grasped yet. I want to find my dream life. I know it is out there, and one day I will be able to tell and have it if I keep searching.
I have had a great life, but I have never gotten too comfortable. There has been too much to see and do for me to stay in one place. Every time I ended up somewhere, it felt great but never quite right. There was never a bad place. On the contrary, they have all been unique and lovely, but none of them have felt like home. So, I have decided to keep moving until I settle.
After all, life is a journey of searching.
I was born in Northern China in 1975. Geographically, my hometown is very close to Russia, so the city was full of immigrants from both cultures. The food, music, and art of the city was a fantastic blend between two of the most ancient societies. I realized at a young age that there was not one particular way to view the world and its problems. Everyone has their own experiences that can impact them in their own way. This prepared me for a life of travel and understanding of different cultures, and how I should react to their lifestyles.
My father was an engineer, and my mother was an accountant, so it made sense why my brother and I showed an early interest in technology and business. I was fascinated by computers and their potential from an early age. Very few people had them at that time in China, so it was always a big deal to use one. I knew one of the chances to get my hands on a computer would be to register for related courses at school.
With my passion of computers and the desire to learn about them, I went to college in 1993. It was in a different city down in the south, about 48 hours by train away from my hometown. I majored in International Business and minor in Computer Science. College life was exciting for me as I got to learn how computers worked. We were also allowed free time on the computers after we finished our coursework. Sometimes I think the only reason I did well in my courses was because I was in a rush to play games and would work hard to finish the school assignments as soon as I could. While my passion started out of amusement, it gradually grew to be my primary focus.
After graduation, my first job took me to Beijing. It was relatively easy to find work because so few people, especially in China, had any idea how to work a computer. There were no IT workers back then, so companies would take students with basic computer knowledge right out of school. I started as a salesman in a mechanical factory, but at the same time I also helped the whole sales department maintain their computer systems. After a while, I had pretty much stopped selling so I could focus on the digital work. I enjoyed it much more and found myself quite good at it. I worked there for two and a half years.
As my interest inflated, I wanted to expand my knowledge of computer engineering by getting further education. I applied to dozens of schools around the world to a variety of programs with a focus in IT. I jumped at the first university that accepted me in 2000. Without knowing much about my destination, I headed to Belfast in Northern Ireland to complete a Master’s degree. I adapted easily enough thanks to my experience growing up in a mixed culture. The city was still on edge as this was a few years after the IRA (Irish Republican Army) terrorist attacks.
My parents always took good care of my brother and me. They spent most of their lives working hard to provide for their children. They didn’t always have a lot of money, and what they did save went toward raising us. When I studied abroad, they helped me pay the bills so that I could focus on my coursework. I’ll be forever grateful for their sacrifice.
My dad started having heart problems while I was finishing up my degree in Belfast. At the time, my brother was taking care of my parents. However, he and his family had been planning to leave China for Canada around that time. I felt like it was my turn to give back to the man who had given me everything I needed. I had asked for too much from my parents, and I believed that I owed it to them. Without much hesitation, I left Ireland and went home. I ended up staying with my parents for a couple years before my dad died. I never regretted my decision. Going back home was totally worth it to spend the last few years of my dad’s life with him.
After my father’s death, I felt I was free to travel again. I started looking for jobs. I was recruited to work in Tokyo for General Electric. The project involved merging financial data from multiple platforms. I got the chance to take in a new culture again and see how the Japanese live. I enjoyed my time in Tokyo and liked embracing the foreign culture. I lived in Japan for a year until the company I worked for recruited me again. This time they wanted me to go to the United States for a year. GE sent me to Atlanta, Georgia. I was off to experience another new culture.
After a year in Atlanta, I went home to China. I decided to catch up and spend some time with an old friend. She was someone I had dated in college, but we had broken up since I was traveling the world for my work. Reconnecting with her made me feel the urge to settle down. When I returned to China, we tried dating again and realized that we wanted to stay together. I had found the right person to spend my life with. We knew it would be hard since I was still doing a lot of traveling for my job, but we decided it would be worth it. It seems strange after moving around from country to country that I had to travel back across the world to find love.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to leave the country right away after we had made our decision to stay together. During my time in China, I met the head of a tech startup. He needed someone to help build his development team here in the country. This was a great chance to be closer to my girlfriend. I jumped at the opportunity. It was in late 2009.
It was tough for a long time because we were mostly dealing with US customers, which meant I had to work at night to be in the right time zone. We were the company’s first international team and grew to more than 150 people in two years. Around this time, I got married and my wife got pregnant soon afterwards.
This job eventually took me to Toronto, where I got to experience the Canadian culture for several years. My wife stayed behind in China to continue working her financial job. I brought our daughter with me to Canada.
Eventually, the company I worked for was sold out to a bigger corporation around 2014. As part of the acquisition, I moved to work in the headquarters of the company in the United Sates in Mason, Ohio. It was strange to move again, but of course I welcomed the opportunity to see even more of the world. I have been in the US ever since. My two-year-old son also lives with me now.
I feel guilty sometimes that I haven’t given my children more stability. It isn’t good for young kids to move around so much. One of the reasons I came back to the US was because I thought it would be easier to settle down with my family here. However, with my wife still committed to the project in China and living oceans away from us, that dream doesn’t seem attainable yet. Thankfully both of my kids seem happy here. My wife also comes to see us for three months out of the year too, so I still get to spend some time with her. I never question her devotion to us because she willingly takes three connector flights from China to get to us, which takes about 76 hours. She plans to come to live with us in Mason when her project is over.
I hope what we are doing is right. I always loved to travel and work all over the world when I was single. It is different though once you have a family. You have to settle down for them. My kids have adjusted well to the moves, and they have friends in Ohio. Each day they are exposed to many new things, which is all I could want. I want them to appreciate different cultures like I have learned to.
I have moved around quite a lot in my adult life, and I know I should be ready to settle, though it doesn’t feel like Ohio is the last stop for me. I’ve always believed that people like me are constantly chasing something, even though I don’t yet know what it is. I know that eventually I will find the right place, with the right kind of life. My heart will tell me when it’s right. Even if I get a new opportunity to leave this said place, I would hesitate and consider staying. Ohio is good for now, and for now, my kids come first. Their lives are more important than mine, and I want to give them stability of living in one place for a while. I will still be searching though. I’ll continue to chase what I’m after. One day I will find that place, and everything will be right.
This is the story of Kevin Hu.
Kevin works and lives in Mason, Ohio with his five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son while his wife currently lives in China working on an important project for her company. Kevin was lucky enough to see a lot of the world through his profession in computer engineering, but he still feels that he’s chasing something despite appearing to be settled in Ohio. He is still searching for the place he can truly call home that he would hesitate ever leaving.
This story first touched our hearts on June 2, 2017.
Update: In January, 2018, Kevin moved back to China with his children to be closer to his wife. It’s possible that the right place he’d been searching for was his home country all along.