I remember when I was just a few months shy of 22. I recently just arrived in Taiwan, part of the SSB (single since birth) club and eyes sparkling with such innocence.
My gosh, I look at my pictures then, and it amazes me that regardless on how naive I still am now, how much simple-minded and naive I was most especially then.
That was the time when I believed that your soul mate was someone you grew up and fell in love with (too late for that for me!), that you married your first boyfriend and a woman must be courted at least six months before the guy is deemed worthy.
You can imagine how much sheltered and well-protected then my parents had given me growing up. Sure, I was never in a relationship then with the heart intact — but the sky was blue, the birds were singing and the days were beautiful.
I remembered my first “love” so to speak.
Hahaha, it still makes me smile.
Sure, I have no regrets, but it was crazy — I fell totally in love (at that time) with a guy who was 100% non-Chinese (he was 100% Japanese), had no ambition (he played pachingko as a livelihood) and couldn’t even speak the same language as I did (we used Mandarin to communicate). I remember he was very stingy and lived off NT$6,000 a month aside from rent.
But I didn’t really care!
His stinginess bothered me but then again it was in excess (there was the NT$50 story but I’ll save that for another day), and it worried me that I was getting into a serious relationship with someone I’d have to financially support one day (it was obvious who was going to be the breadwinner) — but I stayed.
I stayed because I liked him a lot — superficially, I liked the way he smelled and his smile, but honestly, I liked the fact that he didn’t let me boss him around and he was his own man. He had a lot of pride, and though it irks me sometimes, pride is something I wanted my guy to have. 🙂
We broke up because the feelings ran its path and in the end, we were just together because I thought it was embarrassing for us to breakup without hitting our first-year anniversary. I didn’t want my first relationship to end so soon without us fighting for it.
But breakup we did — ironically, on the day of our 1st year anniversary. It hurt a lot, but thankfully, it was in amicable terms. Being apart also helped a lot.
The second one came soon after the breakup, though I had my chances of “flings” with some dashing men you only see in movies.
Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt-lookalikes actually taught me that there were other fishes in the sea — and ultra-cute ones at that — and it was fun while it lasted. I guess, there is less expectation when the guys are too good-looking, and yet, you were so different.
The second guy came as fluidly — when we met, we hit it off and talked for hours. Even till today, we can and he taught me to believe my mom when she said, “There are just some guys who you can hit it off and you know there’s something there.“
I remember even after we broke up — we stayed in Grandma Nittis and talked for 8 straight hours. I think Rainbow regretted offering us their free-tea refills. I must’ve went to the restroom at least 10 times.
It’s been almost two years since we first met and boy, time ran so fast. There were a few months of good times and for a time, we were inseperable. We were compatible in so many ways: we had similar personalities, interests and friends, that it was great when we were together, but harder to separate once we broke up.
But this was the relationship which taught me that compatibility isn’t really all that, and sometimes, people break up despite the similarities.
“It’s ironic,” my ex used to say. “We are 85% compatible. It’s the rest that broke us up.“
There was the official version of the breakup — our ages gap was just so big, but unofficially, it was a different story, which is best kept private.
It was still a very simple, straightforward relationship — much like the first one.
We met, we hit it off, we started going out and split, wash, repeat.
No complications: we were from different worlds converging only because of a mutual like of each other. Cultural, linguistic, financial, personality and hey, even age difference mattered little and we got together because simply, I liked him… he liked me… and that was that.
How different can 5 years bring you.
I shocked my girlfriend to bits when we had dinner earlier this week. “Going out with him will ruin your career, everything you’ve worked for,” she exclaimed. “What if anybody saw you? How would they react?”
“Look, we’re not doing anything wrong though,” I said. “Do you think I’m the type of girl—“
“It doesn’t matter what is real or what is fiction,” she interrupted. “It’s what they think you’ve been doing. People talk. Tongues wag. Gossip can destroy you and you’ll look unprofessional.”
Big sigh — the more people I’ve known and who has known me, the harder it is to find an equal. I’ve tried not to frequent the same establishments but it’s still likely I bump into someone I know when I’m out with someone. For example, on my second date with Aussie guy, we bumped into a co-organizer of one of the biggest social organizations in Taipei.
“Raven?” she surprisingly asked, “Funny bumping into you here!”
Aussie guy and I were at Alleycats Yongkang so it’s a popular foreign hangout. But of course, it was a weeknight so didn’t really expect to bump into anybody.
Of course, she asked about him afterwards. *Raven slaps own forehead*
Frankly, it’s faster for me to start something with someone who has no clue what my background is. Maybe that’s why Vietnamese guy fell really hard — he had no clue who I was or what I’ve done. All I was is a single female who likes traveling.
But now? People I meet outside work know me as the “girl who’s active in so-and-so” and admittedly, my profile here in Taipei isn’t really one that’s low profile. It’s hard for me to keep secrets because I see people I know all the time. On a good Friday, I can see around 3 people I know separately at Warner Village. 🙁
“Haha, you know what?” I lamented. “Guys who go after me are usually those who don’t really know me or what I do, or those who are way older than me!”
It’s a joke and I don’t mind. But every joke is half-meant.
The advantage is, I’m enjoying where I am right now. There are a couple of really good prospects and it excites me to see where each is going. Guys do really get better as I get older, and though they’re a bit more complicated to get into a relationship with, the experience itself is richer… fuller.
At least, nobody can blame me for having a non-interesting dating record. Most dates are really an experience by itself, and I’ve been entertained by the stories these guys tell.
If only it can be just simpler like before — like you meet each other, like each other, and bam, you’re together.
And not without the threat of tongues wagging, people around you talking/gossiping, or having your career being put in danger because it’s stereotypically wrong.
Why can’t I just see him as an interesting man who I’d like to get to know better, and vice-versa?
Who cares about his status (and no, you can breathe easier… he’s not married), his money or position?
The fact that other people worry makes ME worry! And goodness, friends know how I am when I start worrying…
I want the simple life. That simple love.
Will I ever get it in this lifetime? The older I get, the harder it seems — whereas I used to just care if this guy liked me, now I have to think about whether this guy can support me, entertain me, etc.
I want to get back to where I was when I was just 21 — with that unbroken heart, those wide-eyed innocence, that untarnished record.
I want to get back to that.
Call me naive, but ignorance was bliss and I crashed and burned, but heck, those were wonderful days.
Maybe if I retained that youthful optimism, we can work? Is it even possible?
My mind tells me NO, but my heart is leading me to a yes.
“You’d be stupid to even consider him,” my girlfriend wisely said. “I won’t blame you, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.“
It would be so easy to just say yes — Yeeeeeeesssss….
But how hard is it to just say those words you’ve been wanting to say because you’d like to protect yourself?
It’s those words that will tip the scales. I should’ve said it with Aussie guy when I had the chance. I should’ve said it with Mike when he came over.
But I didn’t.
I was too chicken shit to just say, “Yes.”
And now another chance has come — will it be yes or another no?
I’ll let you guys know. We’ll know soon enough.