Dating – Back to Shenzhen, China!

SAM_1062A symbolically-numbered birthday, lookin lame. Note long hair at the time

 

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…)

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Dating in Guangzhou – The end… my humble ‘successes’

206513_10150171831983411_5576_nSee end

Dating in China, blah blah. I’m coming to an endpoint here. At least the end of my Guangzhou Year point.

Yes, I was getting sick of GZ. But not sick of China yet, not even close. I decided to go back to the familiarity of another city, my default locale. Shenzhen is just where I would’ve ended up eventually anyway, might as well surrender to my destiny. I sincerely like it better, somehow it works for me. I can’t believe I’m still here.

Guangzhou, in all its overwhelming epicness, was a place to study and a place to learn yet not a place for permanence.

In this final installment of the Provincial Capital’s memories, let me be a bit more positive. I may have complained too much in previous entries; I should be more grateful for the wonderful experiences I’ve had. It wasn’t all lonely nights in Canton…

 

There was Nellie, whom I met on POF. She had an exotic face, a cutesy style, and she invited me to her glamorous home to drink French wine. I spent a weekend there, she was so gracious. Regaled with tales of work and travel.

She visited me in Shenzhen once too.

Then there was Janey, whom I met on gzstuff.com. It was all so natural and easy, she added me or I added her (who remembers at this point?) and I simply suggested we go on a date and then we did and it ended nicely.

She was very attractive, thoroughly modern, and studied yoga. She didn’t mind coming out all the way to my place. But oddly shy. Like open in some ways, so reserved in others. We went to the cinema several, and window-shopped at Tianhe malls.

One day we had a fight when I went to her area in Taojin. I got bad directions and got lost and was late. No dinner even, only harsh words. It simply wasn’t meant to be long-term.

Most of all, there was Valerie, my then friend-with-benefit of choice. An office worker in glasses with a casual style. She was from Yunnan. She lived in deep Panyu, far away from downtown, and she was happy to visit me. We first met at a market in Shiqiao, the busiest area of the district and a world away from the city center.

I took her to dinner, went to parks, we enjoyed many weekends together lounging about my area. She liked me, she really liked me. Always cool, always happy, always there for me. Such an awesome person.

And no drama. I thank her for this. Today, as I think back and compare, I could not be more grateful for her positivity and good times.

I hope she thinks well of me now. I don’t even know why we didn’t become boyfriend and girlfriend. Didn’t seem in the cards, didn’t seem we had that kind of thing going. She wasn’t really who I pictured myself with, to be honest. We never had any serious conversations. She never pressured me to take things further. She was perpetually chill. Who knows, perhaps something was going on in her personal life at the time.

Still, I wonder…

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Dating – Rejected in Guangzhou

at local gz pub, stay positive olives
At local GZ pub, with olives. Gotta stay positive

Dating in China, blah blah. More often than not it was Rejected in China. Especially during my Guangzhou Year.

Everyone seemed to be doing fine hooking up, yet I always found myself to be wrought with challenges in this game.

People all assume that it’s so easy to be an expat in China. There are advantages to be sure, I admit my privilege. However, honestly I get rejected by local girls all the time.

What can I say? I really put myself out there. That means taking risks. That sometimes means embarrassing yourself, falling on the hard dirt face-first, and somehow finding the strength to do it all over again next weekend. Did I learn anything?

There was the girl who made out with me while my friend was visiting and texted me all the time, yet she would never make the time to meet one-on-one for a date. There was the second date with the Sandy when she slept over at my place and we massaged each other in the morning and then she told me she’s seeing someone else. There was the girl I approached outside in the street who turned out to run a bar in Panyu, and we as per usual made out in a club and then I went to her bar and I could never get her alone again. There was my cute Italian friend, one ambiguous friendship with that flirting tension in the air and nothing ever came of it. The American (from guess where, Florida) who was really into graphic cybersex with me and then by the time we met in person she was constantly talking about her new boyfriend. The Japanese language teacher friend who rejected my advances multiple times. The girl I met while backpacking in Tokyo, who liked me when we were chatting and showed me around in person but wouldn’t let me stay at her place during my travels. I even met a girl who owned a manga shop in Yuefu and I thought she just might be my soulmate, but she evidently thought there were no sparks at all; this was when I began formulating my theory that too much in common is not good for attraction.

Off the top of my head, two girls especially come to mind, of whose rejections were particularly hurtful–

 

Josephine

Josephine. I really liked her. Slim and glamorous. She knew her fashion. A French major, a Europhile. She was meant for greater things than me…

I met her at the big nightclub in Zhujiang New Town. She wore a sexy black dress. I used a great opening line about looking like a drug dealer and pretending people were asking me if I was holding, wondering what she thought of my looks. She laughed, we exchanged numbers.

We had pizza for dinner one day and I bought her a stuffed animal, and she started talking about her boyfriend.

“Isn’t this a date?” I forwardly asked, though trying not to come across as resentful.

“Um…”

I never did get a goodbye kiss from her.

I tried to stay friends with her.

Somehow, her number got lost as I upgraded phones throughout the seasons and I no longer have her contact info. It would be nice to know what she’s up to. Just to be friends on Wechat, see her posts occasionally, not bug her all the time or anything.

Josephine, are you out there?

 

Seline

Probably the most drama I had in my entire Guangzhou era was with Seline.

Now, I met her indirectly through Couchsurfing. But let me assure you that I never ever use the crucial travel-and-networking website as a hookup thing. That is strictly against my code. This was the only time I kinda-sorta broke that code.

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