In the midst of my general soul-searching of late, I realize that I put too much prudence on the idea of having a girlfriend. As opposed to the specific individuality of a person and how her personality and vibe would match with mine. I tend to rely too much on false hope, without any real foundation, and reap the consequences of such later. This kind of thing may go for this episode.
Mid-2012. I was meeting girls from time to time, whatever. I wanted more. I wanted a partner, stability, someone to hang out to always be there to hang out with me. Tired of the chase, I wanted the idea.
I met Jeanie on the ol’ website. She thought I was interesting, and funny! Believe it or not.
She was Chinese; she was educated and worked in some international company. I think she made more money than me.
She had the most perfect skin. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman I ever met, but she was the most beautiful woman I ever met online.
The problem with meeting a partner online, I always say, is it’s not a good story of how you met.
But who really cares about the stigma of dating online that in this day and age?
I suppose the simple truth of why it didn’t work out is we didn’t have all that much in common. We ran out of things to talk about. I’d repeat myself. There wasn’t that much to confide, not that much to be deep over.
For a while, we did have a pleasant routine. She was always busy with work, which was far away in Luohu. We went to all the cool dating places early on, such as when we went to the top of the KK Building – tallest building in Shenzhen. I tried taking her to parties but she wasn’t into it. The rave was a particularly bad idea, she was so bored. There was one cool episode when she babysat me tripping on smuggled psilocybin chocolate at Lianhua Mountain.
But sooner or later, every weekend would roll around and she would be too tired to go about town and she just wanted to chill in my Meilin apartment. I suppose nothing wrong with that. Just the two of us tended to be quite nice. We watched a lot of Mad Men.
I was very serious about writing back then, and spent most of my free time on my novel. I didn’t need to be a super fun-time-all-the-time social butterfly type, and she didn’t want that from me. My popularity in the Shenzhen scene was waning. “Didn’t you move to Guangzhou?” everyone said, unaware that I’d been back for a while and uncaring. Which suited me fine. I was in my own little world.
We did travel once. We only went to Zhuhai, but we did go there together and it was nice.
Zhuhai is beach town two hours away from Shenzhen. I’ve been there several times. It borders the former Portuguese colony – and current gambling pit – of Macau, and is one of the four original Special Economic Zones of reformed China. (Shenzhen, by the by, being the first of the SEZs.)
Zhuhai happens to be her hometown, and she was visiting her family one holiday three-day weekend and I decided to tag along. After her filial duties, I bused over and met her at a hotel. She showed me around some islands and we taxied around to eat and to shop and to see the sights. It’s a fun place to explore at night.
“Welcome to Zhuhai,” she said on the hotel bed.
It was a nice trip. No drama at all.
We were supposed to go traveling once again, someday. Further away. Xi’an perhaps. We talked about it but it wasn’t to be…
We did have a special thing of some sort going on. It may have been boring at times, I admit it. She didn’t seem to want much excitement. We were each other’s relaxation system, we rested together and didn’t look for much more. This sort of thing cannot last forever.
One day she was very quiet and cold and we went for a long walk and finally she said she wanted to break up with me.
Jeanie, one must understand, was in her mid-20s and was Chinese and had a Chinese mother. I knew she was being pressured to get married. It’s rather a cliché now, to hear about Chinese parents constantly harassing their adult kids to get married. A lot of parents from different cultures do that, sure, but China has had the unique experience of rapid development and the subsequent generation gap between the peasant-class and their sophisticated city kids has grown rather ridiculously wide.
What people of the older generation don’t understand is that to live in the modern world is a completely different lifestyle than that of the countryside in the past. Pretty much everywhere is like that; in America people in small towns often marry earlier in their 20s while educated people in big cities focus on their career and postgraduate studies and such until their 30s/40s. It takes that much longer to grow up in a complex world; while in the simple life adulthood quickly. It’s a dichotomy. (And note historical times past, medieval scenes when teenagers were basically adults.) In China these gaps between generations from the Communist countryside past and the thoroughly modern, are like that of people from different historical eras. The parents might as well be from another Dynasty. Couple that with Confucian family values of filial piety and we have some conflict.
Still, I didn’t think Jeanie would actually listen to that stuff. But she told me her mom’s nagging finally convinced her that she should be serious about finding a life partner and she must break up with me.
We were together about half a year. Time enough to discuss moving in, I’d grant, but not time enough to discuss marriage. Anyway, I wasn’t husband material. I know that much.
It did take two more breakups to stick (I don’t let go easily do I), but eventually we did split up for good. It was a good run, more or less healthy with minimal tension and fighting. Can’t say it was true love or anything. Well, can’t complain either.
Now she works in Africa of all places, as some Chinese do these days. She has a fiancé, an international businessman-type. We are totally cordial and occasionally text each other to keep in touch. I wish her the best.
I didn’t know it yet, but all these experiences were leading up to the most epic Clusterfuck Year of 2013. Before that year was to begin though, I had one or two more dating belt-notches to get over with.
In one of my especially less proud moments, I met a certain woman online and she turned out to be one of the strangest and grossest women I’ve ever had the displeasure of ‘dating’/’hooking up with’ or whatever you’d call it. Standards were lowered, weirdness unfolded, and this still echoes into the present. The learning process goes on.
Next: Yuki, grosss