Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Cruel Fate mocks me again

Some time ago, I conceived a terrible crush on a woman I kept on seeing in bars.  Well, I saw her a handful of times - but in quick succession.  Unfortunately, it was always in music bars, so there was never really an opportunity to strike up a conversation with her (she always seemed to be with a large gaggle of friends, so was never accessible even during breaks in the music).

She wasn't dazzlingly beautiful, but there was something about her that immediately got under my skin - as if she fit some obscure paradigm of 'perfect womanhood' hardwired into my brain.  There was an uncanny sense of familiarity about her, as if I'd met her before somewhere.... had known her all my life.  And this odd sensation was utterly compelling: I couldn't take my eyes off her.

But I couldn't contrive an opening to talk to her.  (The whole sorry story - or most of it -  can be found here.)

I tried to redeem myself after the hopelessness of the first encounter where I'd suffered a bunny-in-the-headlights paralysis in her presence.  I made a plan to try to track her down again, find out who she was, speak to her.  A whole series of plans, in fact.  They all came to nought - sometimes in quite interestingly disastrous ways (she didn't turn up to a gig I expected she might do; or she turned up with twenty friends, an impenetrable human wall; or she might have turned up alone, but I'd had to duck out with a dose of bad bowel; or.... well, on one occasion, one of her friends started hitting on me - which is about the most awkward kind of obstruction that can possibly present itself!).

But then she abruptly disappeared.  After a month or two of comparative ubiquity, suddenly no further sightings.  I had gathered that she was a teacher at one of the international schools (well, supposition rather than confirmed 'intelligence': I knew some of her apparent 'friends' were), and those folks often move on to new schools, new countries fairly frequently.  I assumed that  was what had happened with her.  I think, in fact, I'd heard a rumour to that effect (as I said, I was on terms of nodding familiarity with a few of her friends - though not to the extent of actually knowing their names.... or daring to ask them for hers).

The trail had gone completely cold.  I was convinced she must have left the country.  And perhaps it was just as well.  It was probably a doomed prospect anyway.

Except that.... a few nights ago, I saw her again.  For the first time in three years!

And NO - I didn't speak to her.


Cedra Wood said...

I don't know if I'd call it fate mocking, so much as opportunity knocking, Froog! Of course, I don't need to tell you; you've had the experience of longing for and then losing sight of her, so you're well-equipped to weigh that feeling against the risk of...well, whatever makes you afraid of speaking to her, next time your paths cross. Good luck with either making a move, or making peace with deciding not to do so! I know both are easier said than done.

Froog said...

I've heard people say that "Rejection is fleeting, but regret lasts a lifetime. Actually, it's always seemed rather the other way round with me.

I am now trying to convince myself that she was only here on holiday, visiting old Beijing friends (although it is a damned odd time to be visiting, because Beijing is a wretched place during the Chinese New Year holiday, and most foreigners flee overseas!).

And if she is still resident here, has been resident here all this time, I think my strategy of consolation must be that we are obviously incompatible in our tastes and interests. It really is mind-bogglingly strange, improbable that I could go that long without seeing someone in 'small world' Beijing! There are some people - people I'm not particularly looking out for; people, in some cases, that I'd rather avoid - that I can't go a week without running into.

She doesn't go to live music - ever.

She doesn't go to The Bookworm, ever. (The city's only decent English-language bookshop; also a library, bar, journo hangout, and scene of numerous book launches and other speaker events - how can a foreigner survive without it??)

She doesn't go the Dashanzi 'art zone', ever. (Admittedly, it's more of boutique & coffee shop development than an artists' colony these days; but it's still a fun place for a weekend afternoon wander... and one of the major centres of foreigner cultural/social life.)

She doesn't go out around Nanluoguxiang, ever. (I know I'm biased because I live around here; but it is the prettiest, old hutong-style area in the city; and - these days - a major draw, with its plethora of boutiques, bars, and so on.)

She doesn't go to any of the restaurants that I like, ever... or not often enough to give me a decent chance of running into her.

Hopeless, hopeless. I deduce that she must be one of the dreaded 'Shunyi-ites' - people whose comparative affluence allows them to live in one of the upscale housing developments in the township of Shunyi out near the airport (that is where most of the international schools are, so it's undeniably convenient - almost inescapable - if she is a teacher in one of those). It's 15 or 20 miles out of the city, and a completely self-contained world - a reassuring slice of American suburbia transplanted into China. Many of its residents find it so convenient, so comfortingly familiar, that they never come into the city centre. Alas, I fear that my fascinatrix is one of these.