When We Were Young

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I am sometimes asked if I am married or have children. When I say no, mostly to friends of my parents, they would feel sorry and occasionally would try to set me up with sons of their distant relatives through my parents. They seem to believe I would make a great wife and mother, “she’s so smart, their son will go to the best university!”

In fact I was with a man for almost 6 years, before we broke up earlier this year.

We met in college, in a class about database systems. I was 20 and he was 31, we were poor but we were in love. We moved in together when we had been together for six months. After we graduated from college, we moved to New York City. Brooklyn first, then Queens.

We were happy together most of the time. It was the type of happiness that we could sit next to each other on the couch and code, for hours without uttering a word. And felt happy.

Then he got his dream job. It was the job he had been preparing for the past decade. He was happy. I was happy for him. The job was in another city far from New York. So we broke up and he moved away.

It can be awkward to describe this ending to people I don’t know. They tend to ask follow-up questions: “Why didn’t you just get married and move with him?”

“Why didn’t I?” I ask myself.

The answer is: many reasons. Because I was 26 and unsure how long the relationship would last. Because I wanted a career for myself. Because neither of us believed in marriage and we wanted to be adventurous more than we wanted to be married. Because I needed a work visa sponsorship and it was unlikely to find a company that sponsors in a small town, and I was too independent and embarrassed to get married for a green card.

But I don’t say any of these things. What difference will it make? We were in love and we wanted to set each other free. So we did.

Marriage and children. I got asked more often in Latin American and in China than anywhere else. My grandmother once asked me, if I don’t get married and don’t have children, what happens when I get old? And what happens if I get old and then get really sick? Who is going to be there to take care of me?

My grandfather passed away and my uncle had been a criminal and a disgrace to the family. I wanted to ask her where was her husband and her son when she got sick.

“But don’t you like children?” someone will then ask.

No, I don’t like children. In fact, I often reply with, “Tengo la discapacidad de sentirse amor ni compasión a los niños. (I cannot feel love or compassion towards children),” as honest and matter-of-factually as admitting “I’m vegan” or “I drank 3 cups of coffee this morning.”

I understand the financial and legal benefits of being married, like there’s higher deduction for couples filing a joint tax return, and there’s no surcharge for an additional driver for a rental car. But should we get married simply because of these? I’m certain there are successfully and happily married people, but I think marriage is slavery. We are in this world to love, not to enslave each other.

I recently found out an old friend of mine had been depressed and suicidal for the past year. He was in a long term relationship and had a good job, and I had thought they were happy. But you can never know what goes on between two people by looking at their Facebook updates.

Later in the year I met another man. We could not be more different and there was a bigger age gap, as much as I was 4 when he graduated high school. In front of such a man it is hard not pretend to be who I am not, or the most perfect version of myself.

I am still unsure.

I think love is like feeling your way through a dark tunnel; you have to get your hands dirty. If you hold back, nothing interesting happens. At the same time, you have to find the right distance between people. Too close, and they overwhelm you; too far and they abandon you. How to stay in the right distance? I think I still need to figure this out.

After 27 years, I still want to have my life for the unexpected.


Please let me be free

Here I go again:

I broke up with my boyfriend, because I want to live my life the way I wanted, free of anything – after almost two years we’ve been together.

Seems like the year of 2008 all over again. I should at least try not to repeat myself next time…

I know from this day on, my life could only be better. I’ll graduate with a master’s degree in a year, find a job in android development and perform great. I’m an android developer intern right now, and had great fun working with other developers and designers. Everyone says I’m smart, hard working and can learn things fast. I’m sure I’ll get even better in the years to come.

But I’m afraid my ex-boyfriend’s life is going to get worse. Compare to his ex-girlfriend (the one before me), I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute instead of Harvard, I don’t have an MBA from Stanford, I’m not – and never have been – the founder and executive director of a company, I’m not white, I don’t have blonde hair (being white and blonde matters to him), I speak English with my Chinese accent… From this declining tendency, his next girl will probably be worse than me.

I wish him luck.


Google doesn’t know what to translate when we talk about love

The other day I received a text message from Louis.


What was he trying to say? 「赤ちゃん」means infant or baby, 「女の赤ちゃん」could mean “my daughter’s infant” or “my girl’s baby”…I was confused, how many girls are there?

And then I thought, he must have used Google Translate, and the only way to know what he meant is to translate it back to English (or maybe Spanish). So I did, copied the sentence back and hit [Translate].

It said “You are my baby girl.”

In between the birthdays

November 4th, 2011, I turned 21.

From 20 to 21, my life took off in a new direction. I am an adult at 21. I read 15 books, passed Japanese N1 test, learned Java, took Spanish classes, got my first job and rented my first apartment.

Five men came to my life and left. I have to learn this before turning 22, that sex should not be casual, and inviting other people to uncover you can be dangerous. But it is unlikely that I can learn it now; I have to make more mistakes.

One of the most brilliant entrepreneurs passed away – Steve Jobs, and on the same day part of my iPod screen died. From reading his biography excerpt, the one previewed on Times (I will read the whole fat book later), I knew that I am not done with learning. I like his imagination: its delicacy, its brutal creativity, its profundity, its power to transform the material invention into art.

Maybe the reason I insisted on not settling down is: I want to have time for the unexpected.

I know love is like finding your way through the dark; you have to get your hands dirty. If you hold back, nothing interesting happens. At the same time, you have to find the right distance between people. Too close, and they overwhelm you; too far and they abandon you. How to stay in the right distance?

Maybe that’s the problem between Louis and me.


I thought about Juan once.

Juan smells of Burberry Weekend. This maybe the reason I still cannot let go of him; the top note of grapefruit fascinates me. I bought a bottle at the duty free store at Haneda, and took it with me – to remember. Since we separated late August, for a long time, how often I am sitting in a classroom or cafe, or at a restaurant with friends, and all I want is for him to walk in the door. I am under the impression that at that moment everything will be all right. No one else is as good as he is. There is so much I want to say. Our love is more important than everything else. Yet I am aware how susceptible to illusion we all are. How disturbing it is that our illusions are often our most important beliefs.

But that was last summer, unfortunately.

To My Melancholy Lover

After the goodbye: (Updated on May 7, 2011)

“Han is typing,” Google chat box told me, helpfully.

Somehow it liked a strategy game, a game of intimacy and distance, of ideal life and reality, of things we’ve experienced and the make believes. “Don’t you dare get hurt by this,” I muttered to myself. I knew too well the danger and helplessness of falling for someone more sophisticated and secular. They’d say they loved you, but they were always after something. I knew that from the start.

I just typed “Goodnight” to Han. Goodnight, goodbye and good luck.

Here I go again, making another resolution and trying to regain my confidence one more time.


Everyone who is interesting has a past.

The Glass Castle

You raised your head so I could look into your eyes and kiss you…

Continue reading “To My Melancholy Lover”


纯粹,不牵扯爱情,像是特别投机的路人的温暖 — 在这个冷冰冰,时刻有灾难降临,需要不停息地去填满孤独感的世界里,在茫茫人海中,随便两个人,都有可能相聚在同一屋檐下。






Dan, please dream on.