My dating in China continues, with the obvious next stage. Meeting a nice Chinese girl.
Backpacking summer ’09
It was a long, overwhelming summer. I haphazardly traveled to Shanghai plus Hangzhou to visit a Californian friend, I drank, I didn’t sleep, had to deal with high friends, had to deal with drunk acquaintances, had to deal with Californians visiting me and then getting their passports stolen. Then I moved, and I traveled some more.
All this and I was trying to put myself out there, but still mostly taking it slow with girls. (I made out with one girl at an epic club in Shanghai, that was it) After my “success” with a certain beautiful, sexy, glamorous adult woman, and subsequently discovering I really missed her, I suppose a part of me thought I should end up with someone completely different.
Mary was a girl, an English major at a university in Guangzhou. Junior or senior year, if I remember. 21 with medium-length hair and a very youthful vibe. I met her at a gig in Conghua, we hung out in my hotel room and played ping pong in the lobby. She very much had the cute thing going on. And she listened to Green Day.
After we crossed the threshold of fooling around, we vowed to keep in touch. Guangdong Province ain’t that big, and I needed to learn more about the capital megacity of Canton. Shenzhen is nice but that’s not all there is.
She proceeded to visit me, and I visited her. Actually she really made me feel better during the stressful days. We rotated visits every two weeks for a while. I enjoyed Guangzhou and having a bit of a guide. Go on weekend holidays, check out the Pearl River and the safari park. In a lot of ways GZ is better than SZ, it’s more massive and has a bigger scene and of course has more history and culture. Yet somehow the Special Economic Zone always suited me more. The Provincial Capital is too spread out, too much for me. Now, Shenzhen is a first-tier city and bigger than New York City and it’s not even one of the main big cities of China. Guangzhou may be a distant third to Beijing and Shanghai but it’s still incomprehensibly bigger than any Western city. I always thought of myself as a city person, but I must concede that places like Shanghai and Tokyo are way too much for me.
I later moved to Guangzhou to learn more and then moved back, but that doesn’t concern this chapter.
Meanwhile, in the second half 2009 I got the opportunity to move into a nicer apartment. A fancy garden in Futian District, a high-rise on the 31st floor with a magnificent view of Hong Kong’s New Territories beyond the sea.
I had roommates. A couple, a guy and a girl from two different Anglosphere countries. Guess what job we all had. Yes I had a female roommate, which I’ve had before and had since. It’s not that awkward as long as the girl is in a relationship and boundaries are clearer that way. Always easier to have platonic female friends who are taken. Also, I wasn’t into her body-type and that’s all to say about that.
One Chinese holiday – I forget which, there are so many – Mary came to stay at my new apartment. The roommate couple were traveling in Southeast Asia at the time. It was nice to have the whole luxury three bedroom furnished suite to ourselves. We watched TV, played with a cat named Yoda, bathed together, went to parties, and shopped in urban villages. Afterwards, she took the bus back to her town and we kind of drifted.
I can’t even recall the specifics of how we grew apart. I think she liked me a lot but we became busier with work and school and somehow I thought it was okay to date other women and we were through. There was no big finale. Well, quite nice while it lasted. Short-distance relationship, no pressure, fun times.
That was about it. When my sister came to visit I took her to Guangzhou to see the sights, and met up with Mary then. Another time I took the express train up to Wuhan and Mary was in Hubei for Spring Festival and we stayed in a youth hostel for a few days. I kissed her once on a boat ride, which might have been a bad idea. When I finally moved to Guangzou in 2011, she was in a relationship with someone else and didn’t seem appropriate to keep in touch. After she graduated she moved in with the guy or something. So I heard. I had to be respectful and go away.
Probably the most conservative Chinese girl I’ve dated, Mary was a sweetheart and in no way the typical horny party girl one often comes across. To those who haven’t been to Middle Kingdom of yore, she may appear as your stereotypical feminine Asian women. To those who have seen the reality of the current People’s Republic, she’s the opposite of that archetypal easily-impressed-by-expats English-speaking YCG.
She was a virgin, and she remained a virgin the entire time she was with me. Can you believe there are still those like her these days?
We did other things, got off, I was satisfied. Mostly. Don’t make me graphically explain it, okay. I was always wondering if we were going to cross the threshold or not and we never did. I’ll admit it; it was a problem the longer this went on. Yet I couldn’t force the issue, I just couldn’t. In fact, I’ve never been with a virgin all the way and I really don’t want to. Like George Costanza said, I don’t want to be anyone’s first, I don’t want to be remembered so, I’d rather be forgotten.
And I’m more than a little terrified of hurting someone. I don’t even know what exactly you’re supposed to do when it’s her first time.
Those cultures that are into virgins, I will never ever understand it.
Never having sealed the deal as it were, I do believe I deserved the next installment’s experiences. After all this time, I was finally ready to play the field and have the shallow fun twenty-something travelin’ guys tend to have. I tried my best and what came next couldn’t actually be called dating, what’s next might be more suitably titled Hooking Up in China…
To be continued: in which I become sort of an asshole