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.

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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”

与女人的对话

电影<与女人的对话>Conversations with other women

旧情人特意重逢,彼此尽可能幽默地谈起分手后的岁月,他们殊途同归地想到那条平庸无奇的轨道,当时光的列车启动时,她记起自己曾哀哀期盼鸳梦重温;而他在内心也曾有个愿望:等风波平息,我们再回到这里。希望时间不会太长,我们也不至于衰老。

影片从头到尾都这对昔日情人的对话中进行,以对话开始,以对话结束。画面被导演从中间分成两部分,这让在对话中男女始终在两个均分的画面中,我们也可以同时从两个角度看到他们的局促,不安,故作轻松又渴望亲近的神经质,女主角在录制婚礼的祝福录像时的语无伦次…我记下了男主角在最后最后挽留曾经爱过的人时说出的话:we’ll live together forever long, when we grow very old, we take poison to die together, just like Romeo and Juliet, we hold on with fingers and two hearts stop beating together…不过女人最终为了Jeffery, the cardiologist,亦如男人的Sarah, the dancer,他们已经在新的生活上走远,失去了重返爱的机会。

No one could ever call back yesterday.

—–

Daniel的生活:

there’re two sides to every love story.

关于TY.W的回忆:

令人绝望的事实是,这个富有罗曼蒂克情调的故事以两个人最终撕破脸皮收场。想起曾经的故事,她已经无法确定那究竟是现实,还是炎热天气中的一场幻觉。有时她会在伤心之余清醒,有时则心怀就有的喜悦与释然。

Happy ending is for stories that haven’t finnished …