The Yen for Yang: Part 3
2 a.m. saw my lids closed.
At 4 a.m., it was as if the thunder had slapped me awake.
At 7 a.m., a woodpecker was at my door. I opened it, concerned about but oblivious to what time it was. "Your car to the airport is here," the guy said. My mussed hair and the sleepy bits in my eyes were really the only reply he needed, but I decided to confirm with my rusty voice that I was not going to any airport.
At 9 a.m. my phone bleeped out a thought transferred from a living being: "I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!" the message said in both Chinese and English. "Oh my, what does it mean when someone professes it in both languages? That's serious. Fuck, I'm going back to sleep."
At 11 a.m. there was a second woodpecker at my door. The maid. Where had the 'Do No Disturb Sign' gone? The one for my life?
Honestly, I thought I might as well have gone out to Xiongmao the night before, gotten completely smashed, and chatted in bad Mandarin all night to chain-smoking businessmen, ultimately to be taken home in a wheelbarrow held by the hand of a late-night worker picking out recycled goods from the trash. It would have been more exciting and insightful on the local night culture than having it all come to me in my hotel room.
After failing to obtain my goal of sleep, I grabbed my phone to inspect the confession more closely of a man I had known for only a few days expressing himself to his fullest capabilities through a text message. He says I am this, I am that, when he is with me I make him happy and that he loves me (in Mandarin) and confirms again (in English). Initially I think, "Wow, he is a nutjob." But then I instantly think again.
Who am I to judge? Why am I going by this imaginary set of rules where someone needs to know someone for 4.2 months before saying they love them? I didn't even kiss him nor did I ever tell him I loved him. All we did was have a few meals and talk about everything under the moon.
Here is a guy who has had a life none of us have probably ever experienced. His father died of leukemia when he was a 12-year-old boy. He was the man of the house, taking care of his mom, younger brother and the plot of land they grew vegetables on an hour and a half outside of Chengdu. His mother raised two boys on her own and put them through college even though they were very poor. Now he's a doctor and has had very little interaction with foreigners.
"Wow. I've always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but my mother would never let me," he said after hearing tales of my solo rides through western China. He lived his life by the book. Studying hard, becoming a doctor to live a life of stability and normalcy. I don't live that way. It seemed to be an "off match" from there.
"You were a good son to listen to your mom knowing she was raising you all by yourself. That's really thoughtful, and I admire that. I was much more rebellious," I explained.
I don't see him in the same way he does me. I sent him a text message back that ended up being a novel. In the end, I think he got that my "like" for him was like that of a lama—the way a monk cares and respects all of the living. He was going to cancel his trip home to visit his mom to spend time with me but I insisted, "Please go see your mom, and we can grab a meal when you return. Visiting your mom is important."
He obviously agreed because I didn't see him the next day. Nor the days that followed. Maybe he had given up on a "foreign girl?" I'm not giving up on dating Chinese guys. But my decision had definitely been made that he wasn't the one.
To be continued ...
This article by Christine Cauble was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 58 ("how to"). Christine Cauble is a Taiwanese-American photographer and bloggerattempting to date her way through Chengdu. Photo by Dan Sandoval.