It seemed the world was conspiring against us a couple of weeks ago, as we prepared to go see The Phantom of the Opera. We’d never gone to a play together, even when we lived in an apartment across the street from a theatre back in Georgia. So I felt like it was kind of a big deal, and I wanted everything to work out.

Teacher’s Day had just passed the week before (it’s kind of a big deal here in China) and among the many gifts I had received were two tickets to the play. I couldn’t read much, as it was all in characters, but the one English phrase on the tickets read The Phantom of the Opera! And there was the same picture I had seen on posters advertising the play all year. It was amazing, because some friends of ours ordered their tickets months ago just to make sure they didn’t sell out!

The morning of the play, we were realizing that we probably didn’t even own appropriate formal wear for the event, and we had a little argument about that. Then we kept finding conflicting information about where the venue actually was. And we had arguments about that. Then we argued over the fact that we (I) hadn’t already gotten that all squared away before the day of. And at this point, I just wanted to call the whole thing off and be mad. Finally, one of us (Anna) gathered up her common sense and called the ticket office to ask where The Phantom of the Opera was being shown and how to get there. And in an instant, the problem was dealt with.

The venue was the Shanghai Culture Park. We arrived there, in the heart of the former French Concession and were impressed by the contemporary design of the theatre which stood prominently in the center of a pleasant green space.  We arrived quite early, so we walked down to Starbucks and then later to The Boxing Cat Brewery, our favorite restaurant in that area. After a wonderful meal, excellent drinks, and great conversation, we made our way back down the street to the Culture Park. We entered in through the crowds of people, passed the ticket officers, and into the building. We were relieved to see, by the way, that we were not underdressed. In fact, we were probably some of the most sophisticated looking people there. We showed our tickets to an usher who directed us to the correct floor, and we approached the large wooden doors that led to the auditorium. It seemed that our day that had started so dreadfully, had done a complete 180.

And then came the raised eyebrow from the lady (usher?) standing at the door.

“I’m sorry, but this is the wrong venue.”


Yes, although we had phoned the ticket office directly for the name of the place and the address, we were not at the place written on the tickets (all in Chinese characters, mind you).

“It’s a 15 minute cab ride away” she told us. So we ran upstairs, bolted out the door and ran through the Culture Park to get to the road and wave down a cab. We got in and told the driver where to go, and we were biting our nails the entire time. It seemed like ages, but we eventually reached our destination. We arrived and got to our seats with only moments to spare. We sat down and took deep breaths and smiled at each other with relieved looks that said “We made it!”

And now, ladies and gentlemen, what you’ve all been waiting for: here’s a quick sneak peak at what we feasted our eyes on.

“The Phantom of the Opera.”





Yeah, so all that stuff on the tickets about The Phantom of the Opera? An advertisement. I suppose we should get more serious about learning to read Chinese.

We laughed obnoxiously and whipped out the iPad to capture this moment of our lives forever, and left our seats (in the exact middle of a ridiculously long row) and spilled out onto the street like a couple of inebriated teenagers. High on life, as it were.

It’s funny isn’t it? After all of that angst, trying to make the day perfect and reacting angrily to each other when it wasn’t, we realized that the thing we got so uptight about wasn’t at all what we thought it would be. And you know what? It couldn’t have been better. The world wasn’t conspiring against us. God was working all things together for our good. The good of our relationship. There’s a lesson that we really need to learn from that day. Sometimes we just need to chill out and enjoy each other. That way we don’t have to worry about making everything perfect, because it already is.