After having the most uncomfortable night gay clubbing with a guy I barely knew–emotions heightened by my inebriated state–I deleted most of my gay dating/hook up apps, realizing that I am exhausted of measuring my own value by the number of guys who message me on them. (We’ll see how long this lasts.)
The day after, I ended up meeting up with someone who was visiting New York for the week. He came from Tianjin, goes to school in Ohio, and wants to transfer to New York soon.
I don’t know what it was, but unlike with some other people, I asked him to stay behind a little longer so we could just talk some more. (Perhaps it’s partly due to the fact that he kind of looks like a K-Pop celebrity since he is a quarter Korean as well??? Hm. I’ve definitely been watching too much Running Man.) We sat in the basement and talked for hours about everything I didn’t know about contemporary Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean culture–since my mind’s reservoir of East Asian culture only dates up to the height of Jay Chou’s fame–as well as the films I analyze in my thesis, which led to an interesting conversation on what queer family structures look like in China. And after several conversations I’ve had on other “dates” (if I can even call them that) that really didn’t challenge, enlighten, or stimulate me in any way, hearing him talk was kind of what I was looking for.
Because of my thesis, my being away from home, and my Asian American Literature class that forced me to think deeper about my occasional sense of melancholia and the idea of the “homeland,” I’ve been craving a stronger connection to Chinese culture. Part of that craving is from the heart and mind, but the other part is from my stomach, of course. So, it made me feel some kind of way when he went to Chinatown after my shift at work and came back not only with the spicy lamb noodles I asked for, but also with an order of liang pi for both of us to share and some bubble tea.
As we laid in bed next to each other after dinner, just inches apart from each other’s faces, he said that he “has feelings”–有感情–and that’s what made the few hours we spent with each other worthwhile. And oddly enough, there was this mutual sense of attachment we felt upon this first and only encounter. We held each other close and he lightly interrogated me in Chinese because I asked him to, since Lord knows I need the sparring partner for my Mandarin (What’s your Chinese name? What’s your Zodiac sign? Can I sing you a song about being a Leo? *proceeds to sing 2 lines and then da-da-das the rest of the words he forgot*). Lots of soft giggles, gentle caresses, and… comfort.
A new, different comfort. Not just a physical one, though the warmth from our entangled bodies was quite nice. It was actually the sound of his words that put me and my ears at ease. Hearing him speak in Chinese made me feel at home. And here, home didn’t mean the place where my family lives, but home was a feeling, somehow linked primarily to all those Hong Kong TVB dramas I watched occasionally growing up and the food my parents bought/cooked for me.
He would say something and, after a few sad attempts to use my Chinese, I would respond in English. And suddenly, using English felt like an out-of-body experience. My tongue felt clunky and words felt heavy, certainly not like the way his Chinese flowed effortlessly and seemed to convey so much more passion than my cold English ever could.
Can we take a picture together? What if I miss you when I go back? I will have nothing to look at, he said earlier that evening.
And here I am now, looking at our single photo together.
A beautiful story of romance from @meliorating. I believe there is a profound difference between liking someone and lusting over someone, and this story is a good example of an attachment that transcended physical lust and language differences. It’s that feeling of longing and comfort as opposed to the hormone driven desire. In our community, it’s easy to chase after lust and desire, but perhaps 感情 (roughly translated to feelings but has the connotation of a deeper connection ) is what we really need.