In February of 2012 I had been living in the megacity of Guangzhou (Canton) for one year. My search for companionship had yielded mixed results. I had a bit of fun, sure. But nothing ever seemed to turn substantial, and I was getting lonely.
That, and my favorite bar had closed down. In no hurry to leave China whatsoever – I’m still here for the long haul – I decided that the path of least resistance was to go back to Shenzhen. It was the city I knew best, the city I had people in, the city that’s next to Hong Kong (while simultaneously still a Mandarin-speaking insanely developing mainland locale). I just wanted to go back.
I went over and spent a day apartment-hunting. First I had some bad results from online recommendations, then I simply utilized those real estate office guys you see around, and I found the perfect flat in the middle of the city. I soon met the landlord, signed the lease, and went back to GZ that very night and moved in a week later.
It was the best apartment I’ve ever lived in. I stayed there are year-and-a-half, which is quite long for me. For whatever reasons, I tend to move a lot. About every year I get anxious and seek out a better place to live. Yet, so far, I haven’t found anything better that that amazing apartment. Sigh, I do miss that place.
It suited me. Unlike other places I’ve lived in China, it wasn’t too glamorous. The place had character. It was, of course, cheap. It was a one-bedroom and living room, roomier than those big one-rooms. The building had no elevator, but that’s okay I lived on the first floor. It was close enough to downtown, but just a bit outwards of Futian District in the quieter Meilin neighborhood. There was a subway station nearby with a line led directly to the Lok Ma Chau border to Hong Kong. And only a 30 yuan latenight taxi ride to the obvious weekend haunts of Coco Park. It had everything going for it.
I unpacked. I redecorated. Life went on. I got a gym membership in the area, I biked around and explored and discovered my new favorite restaurants. I celebrated my birthday with a few friends. I met new people and hung out with some Couchsurfers; with my conveniently-located new apartment I could host and invited more than a few travelers to stay with me.
My writing was kinda-maybe starting to take off, and I kept myself busy freelancing. I visited Guangzhou a few times, on assignment of sorts for a magazine. Mostly, I worked on my novel and slowly but surely I was to take that more seriously. It was a productive time in my life.
Oh, and I traveled to Taiwan. (I traveled to Japan the most recent trip, by the way. I apparently skipped that part in previous writings. Well there was no hooking up to be had there. That trip to Taiwan was the last time I both stayed in a hostel and stayed at a Couchsurfer’s, with the coming of a symbolically-yeared birthday I decided I was too old for this kind of backpacking travel…)
It did take some readjusting to the Shenzhen scene. “Didn’t you move?” all the familiar faces around the pubs asked me. They’d gotten used to my absence in the meantime, and it was somewhat jarring to force myself back upon the scene. Still, I was becoming less and less of the party barfly type and was more so embracing my hermit side.
Then again, whether we like it or not we humans are social animals. Still lonely, my online dating continued. With the usual meh results. After several harsh rejections, one by a Chinese girl friend-of-a-friend and then a bad dinner with an Easter European met on OKCupid, I decided drastic measures need be taken. I was single all my Guangzhou year, and I was happier after I moved to Shenzhen but I needed to do something different to finally meet someone. What could be done?
Almost a lark, I decided to try something terrible. I took some evil advice, and made a douchebag profile. Something I never tried before. I had an alter ego, a false online persona. One of those. It was a vapid, awful character. Portraying the most shallow traits imaginable. An entitled overconfident prick, yet mysterious, who got to the point and demanded the fairer sex’s attention. I wouldn’t say I was desperate… but I was willing…
Even today, I don’t know how I felt about all that.
It wasn’t me. But it was worth a try.
Can you believe it? That shit actually worked.