Zoey – the beginning

Birthday video 2010, my life circa that era

Dating in China, Hooking Up in China, when does it become Having a Stable Girlfriend in China?

After much patience, it became.

I think I have a pretty nice story of how I met Zoey, as these things go. An average workday, I took an early-morning bus, sat next to her, and started reading my paperback of The Great Gatsby. Not my favorite novel, though I enjoyed the recent film, it was only a paperback I picked up because you can get classic novels in English cheap at local bookstores. It even had the Chinese name, 了不起的盖茨比. She saw it, and started asking me about the book. Cool! I’ll keep in touch with this chick. We discussed the Chinese title and how 了 throws me off because it can pronounced either ‘le’ or ‘liǎo’

We exchanged phone numbers. Later she told me that I looked so young, and she thought I was a college student. I don’t know if she took me seriously as a partner yet. In any case, she was more than willing to correspond with me and it was a start.

I wish I could say I approached her and it was love at first sight or something. I have a vague memory of trying to sit next to a good-looking girl on the bus – because don’t we all do that at times, just a harmless split-second preference – but I don’t usually try talking to every pretty girl I see, at least not without psyching myself up first. Besides, on cold approaches I wouldn’t even know if she speaks English or not. So, it’s a bit passive that she talked to me first, but I think I did well in talking to her back.

I didn’t know at the time that this girl would become one of the main women of my life, one of my deepest relationships.  I didn’t know that I would stay with her all year and beyond.

Zoey was great. Very outgoing, very positive, not the shy type at all. Cantonese. Slim body type. Big smile. She changed her hair often. She had permed black hair when I first met her, then dyed it auburn, then straightened it, then cut it short and curled it. She was fashionable, not in the pricey wannabe way but in humble off-brand Chinese expressive sort, my kind of style.

She wasn’t very worldly. I know that she has since traveled abroad (I think she’s already emigrated, more on that later), but at this period she was fresh out of college working a trite office job and hadn’t been to Hong Kong yet. She was decent at English and we could communicate, but she wasn’t the super-fluent type. When I’d be distant and we would fight, she’d revert to Mandarin or Cantonese or even Hakka if she was really mad. We watched many movies together and I introduced her to a lot of my native pop culture. She was very open to learning more. She was a sweetheart, a perfect companion, exactly who I needed then and I didn’t even know it.

Anyway, back to chronological order. We texted for a while, and one day I invited her out to a pub. We met at the restaurant near the subway station, talked a bit, she wouldn’t drink and I ordered something nonalcoholic and I kissed her at the end. She wouldn’t go home with me. I wasn’t sure if I blew it, perhaps I go too fast with these things, but we still texted often.

I was still in my playing-the-field phase, and there were a few women I was trying to date. It didn’t work out with any of them. I didn’t know what to think, who to focus on. I was waiting for it work out with someone. It worked out with her.

One day, Zoey agreed to meet me again. After our second date, I got her in a taxi and she went back to my place. We were alone; the roommates were in Malaysia. I tried to seduce her.

“Do you love me?” she asked as I kissed her, in her cute accent. I didn’t know how to answer. Way too early. Perhaps mistranslation? Could she really be that conservative, that traditional a Chinese girl to get so serious so fast? I said I liked her very much and kept it there.

She stayed the night. She was so happy, so into it. In bed, pillow-talking, she asked me if I’m a player. I said I wasn’t, which is what a player would say. Believe it or not, occasionally women ask me that.

Afterwards, I just stuck with her. There was no reason not to be together. She lived nearby. We had sparks. We could meet each other after work. We had fun. She was very friendly with my roommates and my scene. Before I knew it, she was my official girlfriend.

Soon my sister visited, her first time in mainland China. While I was busy, Zoey showed her around. Already introducing her to my family, it was happened rather fast. I met Zoey’s brother and sister-in-law when they were in town as well, but it never did reach the point of meeting parents or anything.

We went to restaurants. We went to parks and theme parks. We took walks in the nextdoor urban village, from neighborhood to neighborhood. I got a cheap Chinese bike with the seat in the back and rode her around, rather cute like high school students. For my me-time, I got a gym membership. And we went to pubs, gay bars, dance clubs. As I’ve said, I’m not good at picking up girls at clubs. But I love taking my girlfriend dancing! No pressure to compete with other guys, no meat market aspect. Simply making friends with DJs and dancing and drinking and fun. I was starting to enjoy the Shenzhen scene more and more.

Mostly, I quite liked having a girlfriend. Playing the field is exhausting. Giving someone the chance, trying something serious, that’s what it’s all about. Or at least it should be.

My birthday was coming up, and I decided to utilize my social capital and my big apartment, and I made preparations for a big party. I made flyers online event pages and booked pals to DJ and invited everybody. It was the main thing to do that weekend.

Sometimes there is nothin more enjoyable than a house party. In my introvert way, it can be the most efficient method to keep in touch with all me mates. As my social circle expanded, I had more and more people to keep in touch with. And I must say I used to be pretty good at throwing shindigs, way back in my Cincinnati days.

It was very successful. Lots of booze. Furthermore, I provided illicit party favors and made a profit. Then the neighbors complained and the cops shut it down as they tend to do. I filmed a bit and haphazardly edited a little video. See.

I felt popular, I was on top of the world. While it may be lame to throw yourself a birthday party, the party I threw myself was the main event of the weekend. Here in Shenzhen, among my peers, I think I can say I was fairly “cool.”

Looking back, it was a high point in my life. Still, I was anxious. I’m used to being anxious. I can never be truly content.

I wondered how long this was going to last. I got a little stir-crazy. Work, life, relationships, when it’s a struggle you fantasize about how easy it will be when it’s fine and yet when it is fine you’re just so used to fantasizing about the future you can’t enjoy the present.

I shouldn’t be so wishy-washy. I should know what I want and stick with it. Since then, I have learned nothing. Alas, age has not improved me on this issue.

Also… as for one certain front. Staying with the same girl for so long, sex can become dull. She was always very enthusiastic (Chinese girls are, by and large, extremely horny. Once someone told me Hong Kongers are like dead fish, well in my experience that is in no way true in the mainland). However, my mind and my eyes were starting to wander. I thought about one past girl I missed. I admit I did flirt. I kissed a tall half-Korean girl at a club, and I should not have done that. While I kinda tried to keep my options open, I never did get far with anyone else. Overall, I had my stable girlfriend and I was good to her, truly, and yet I sadly counted down the moments in my head until someone else came. Nothing lasts forever. I’m young. I wasn’t to be tied down.

We later talked about it. Broke up and went back together at least once by then. Summer 2010 came and I was in a transition. I planned a move, I bought plane tickets, I had places to be. I was going to America for an epic month-long return to my homeland, my first time back since moving abroad. Freedom was in the air. The future was wide open.

To be continued, in: I go to America, everything changes, and you know what they say the more things change the more they stay the same

11 thoughts on “Zoey – the beginning

  1. Meeting someone on a bus, now that really makes for a nice story. The talking about the book thing somehow reminds me of Gilmore Girls, haha.

    Throwing yourself a birthday party is a pretty common thing to do in Austria, didn’t know it might be considered lame in the US?! I think it’s a nice way to meet up with friends, especially with those you don’t get to see that often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really, is that romantic? I think it’s not bad, a natural way to meet someone. Ha, Gilmore Girls-esque! Have I ever mentioned that I am an enormous fan of that show. I LOVED it so much!!!! A literary girl like her would be the ultimate dream come true. I think I’ll name my kids Lorelai/Rory.I always wished they did a follow-up tv movie, showed what happened to Jess, the final season wasn’t as good without creator Amy Sherman-Palladino…

      I may be a tad too harsh with myself, an adult throwing himself a birthday party isn’t that bad. It’s basically any excuse to have a cool party, it’s not like I expected candles and cake.


  2. Nice story! (except the part of you flirting around. Booooh!).

    I was half expecting you would fill the bathtub with beer and someone would take a bath 😀


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