Thursday, December 13, 2012

Then and Now 53 - Chased

Then and Now 53 - Chased
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

Olivia was one of many girls who messaged my internet profile, and when I found the time, we met up at the main station. She didn't send a picture, so it took a while for her and I to find each other and start talking.

She was just barely entering college and had an innocent, somewhat naive outlook on life, and I would have considered her a candidate for dating... if it weren't for her weight. Standing just over five feet tall, and weighing just about what I weighed then, I didn't find her physically attractive at all. But she seemed like a great friend to mutually bounce ideas and language off of, and I wanted to see some local attractions and have a bite to eat with her; you know, show her a good time.

We started by going to the underground mall under the train station, which was a path with stores lined up on both sides. The mall went between a few different train stops for those who wanted to take a peaceful stroll to their destination while checking out a few stores. After turning only a few corners, and before even entering the shopping area, Olivia and I came across a musician in the corner, playing some music on the flute. He had his flute box open at his feet for donations, and a music sheet on a stand in front of him. I thought the music sounded beautiful and otherworldly, but as we walked by him, Olivia turned to me and pretended to play the flute like he did. I smiled nervously, even as I thought it was a bit rude, and motioned for us to move on.

As we walked, we spoke in the local language, because her English wasn't very good. She told me about hanging out with another foreigner a short time before, one who had rented a limo to take her around the city. They talked for a while until the man looked into her eyes and tried to kiss her, at which point Olivia told him she wasn't interested and left the car.

By that point, I wasn't surprised at all by the way foreign men acted here. I told Olivia that I had little respect for someone who came to another country and treated it like a brothel, and that people should be trying to get to know each other for at least a few days before taking things further. She agreed wholeheartedly, and I could almost hear her heart thudding as we continued on, like she thought she had finally found a catch. I just said it to be honest, though.

We walked through the underground mall for a while until we came to one of the eastern stops, and we rode an escalator to the top. We saw a poster with an elephant on it on the way up, and she said that it was her favorite animal. Up to that point, I had never thought of it as anything but a tough and proud beast, but the picture was pretty cute. Soon, we came up onto the street and walked past a gated school, covered in the shade of trees, then continued down the street, talking on the way.

Things get pretty hazy at this point, and all I can remember are swirls of images: walking past a park, talking about her going to college soon at a place in the mountains and the fact that her family was rich, just a couple of things here and there.

My memory picks up again when we came to a monstrous, horrible intersection that went in no less than six different directions, with confusing traffic lights placed in every direction. We stood on the southwest side facing northeast, and there was a little car dealership to our left. The sun was beating down heavily on us, and I noticed Olivia getting pretty sweaty and uncomfortable, so I knew it was time for us to start heading back. So, we crossed a horrendous trio of streets through three traffic lights, and came back towards the street that led between my hostel and the junction station to the east.

As we got to the busy intersection outside the hostel, Olivia looked like she was having trouble breathing, and she asked if we could take a taxi to the station. I smiled and encouraged her to keep walking, because it was only about a half mile away, and we could have been there in just ten or so minutes. She agreed with another smile, and we started our walk up the road. I had to wait up for her to sit down and catch her breath four or five times on the way, but I didn't mind; I admired her tenacity in continuing the walk over there, and I remembered being that out of shape when I first got to the country. When we finally got to the station, she looked happier, like she knew she had accomplished something, however minor it was. We said goodbye, and I headed back to the hostel.

Olivia ended up making several calls to me throughout my time as a single man, and would hardly ever try to speak English. Most of the time I understood her, but sometimes, we just couldn't communicate at all. The calls started getting more numerous as time went on, even three or four times in one day. In emails with my mom, I told her about some of the many things I was up to, including this day and the calls. She ended up telling my brother, who wrote back, "So... I hear you have a new 'friend.'"

Olivia and I met three more times: once was for a quick lunch, where she had cheese fries and I had some fruit. Another was a bank trip with her mom one night because they were in the neighborhood while I was out and about, and her mom's hand was bandaged from where she had been bitten trying to stop two dogs from attacking each other on the street. I admired her bravery.

The next and final time, Olivia met up with me outside of the hostel for a few minutes and gave me a present: it was a handmade wooden carriage, put together with carefully placed glue. I knew at this point that I needed to do something. When we got to a store, I opened my wallet to take out some money to pay for a drink, and slyly made sure that I kept it open so she could see a picture of Sammi, when I thought I still had a chance with her. Olivia asked who she was, and I said she was my girlfriend. Nothing showed on Olivia's face, and I felt relieved, like I had only imagined her wanting to date me, and that I hadn't let her down. I thanked her for the gift, then went back to the hostel to give it to the boss there, because it was a bit too bulky for me to carry around without a fixed address.

A few days later, I got a call from Olivia at 2 or 3 in the morning in the local language, asking me what I was up to. I was a bit annoyed at being contacted so late, so after a quick conversation, I hung up and texted, "Please don't call me so late, you scared my girlfriend."

A few minutes later, she texted back, "Fine! I won't talk to you anymore!" I recognized that symptom of Borderline style behavior immediately; I had been in that position when I was younger, on both the giving and receiving ends.

I never heard from her again. I felt bad friend-zoning this girl because of her weight, but that and a bad attitude are my two no-gos when it comes to a relationship, because both aspects of a person usually show self-control issues. The final text I got should have been proof enough of this. But I still hope I didn't hurt her too bad when she stopped talking to me; I did try my best to be good friends with her.

This was the first time in my life that I had ever been chased by a girl, and I was playing the part of every woman who had rejected me back in high school and college for being a loser. I certainly didn't feel happy having to be the one to reject someone at that time, but at least, this experience was a clear showing of how far in life I had come, and other opportunities that could have been in store for me if I had continued to be unmarried.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:30.
I went to work by train, and played video games on the way.
I taught students.
I came home by train, and played video games on the way.
I ate lunch.
I hung up wet laundry.
I surfed the net.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I ate dinner.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I slept.

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