So most of my readers (i.e., friends and family) already know some of what I’m about to share, but whether you know or not, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this more personal part of my already not-so-private life.
I don’t think I can share my experience in Paris without providing some details first. And it’s even more of a challenge/funny situation/whatever you call this, because the person I’m talking about occasionally reads my blog. Hey, there.
So this all goes back to my time in Shanghai. As you avid readers know, I had an amazing time, but a huge part of it I managed to leave out of my posts—not because I had nothing to say but because this would have turned into a public diary if I did. But I definitely wish I had at least recorded my experiences privately. What were my thoughts? How was I feeling?
Anyway, case in point, I met a guy.
It was a few weeks after my 21st birthday, and I was seated near the entrance of the reserved section at the Brotzeit German Bar and Restaurant, hosting yet another Wednesday Shanghai Expat mixer. I remember this guy about my age with a French accent wearing a nice dress shirt signing in, but as we later discussed, we didn’t think much of each other at first. I may have briefly thought he was cute, but then he went to mingle while I stayed seated at the check-in table.
Later in the night, as I patiently sat listening to a middle-aged Canadian(?) Chinese man go on about his teaching (or whatever topic that clearly had me uninterested) and a few other odd locals, this cute French guy comes up, essentially saving me from these men who only wanted to hear themselves talk (I’m not trying to be mean or exaggerate. It was abundantly obvious that they just wanted to talk to anyone about themselves).
I think it required a few attempts, because even as we tried to make conversation (such as how I’m an ABC who can’t really speak Chinese), these other people tried cutting in or listening. Anyway, by the end of it, I wrote my WeChat ID on one of the Shanghai Expat business cards for him (nothing out of the ordinary—everyone shares their WeChat IDs to, well, everyone, especially at these mixers). But I fondly remember him double checking with me about the ID that I had written. “Yes, it’s an S, not a 5,” I smiled.
The next day, as I planned to go to the Apartment nightclub with my roommate and her friend, I did something I still today can’t believe I did: I asked him to join us (on WeChat, of course). I had only met this guy the night before, but here I was, inviting this guy to go out with me. To my complete surprise, he showed up—alone. I remember him saying his friends couldn’t make it, but whatever the case, in the most clichéd way possible, the rest is history.
We started hanging out at least twice a week (because that’s what he specifically told me he wanted, heh). I guess I did, too. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so comfortable with anyone so quickly, and it became so clear that he liked me—a lot. Still now, I’m such a noob when it comes to dating, and I’m increasingly realizing to appreciate him more, because I felt like I didn’t enough during the literally two months we knew each other.
Anyway, we learned a lot about each other despite the limited time we knew we had. He grew up in Morocco and studies in a city near Paris. Like me, he was studying and interning in Shanghai. Unlike me, he had no interest in learning much Chinese. I guess when you know Arabic, French, English, Spanish…you don’t really need to learn yet another language.
I left a few weeks before he did. Maybe it was because I knew we would someday meet again or maybe it was because I didn’t want to lose it in front of my group, but for whatever reason, I didn’t cry.
And almost exactly a year later, we did meet again.
Seated at Café de la Paix inside the Intercontinental hotel, having stuffed ourselves with delicious French desserts and coffee, I looked up to see him—again in a dress shirt, after having come straight from a job interview—walking toward our table.
I stood up. We hugged. His fragrant cologne permeated my senses—and as my friend pointed out to me shortly afterward, my face had apparently turned tomato red.
For about four days, I felt happier than I think I’ve ever felt before.