Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Then and Now 55 - Bear Tea

Then and Now 55 - Bear Tea
Time: Mid-2007, single and at my apartment.

I got an email from a guy, Mack, one day, asking if I wanted to hang out with him and some of his college friends. I agreed and we set up a time to say hello in the main city. The subway took me past many stops that I had never explored before, and when I arrived at the correct one to meet my new friend, I was kind of shocked by how many people there were on the street.

It was the perfect time for shopping, I guess: it was on the weekend and around 8:00 at night, so there were locals walking in every direction in throngs. Fashion and speed were the name of the night walkers' game. Carefully pushing through the crowds of people, Mack, his friends and I found a side street where almost nobody was walking through. People passed behind us, happily talking and laughing with one another, and their voices slowly faded as we continued down the smaller street.

I saw something weird that night: it was a piece of grafitti on the wall of a happy teddy bear. I'm not sure if one person did the picture and someone else wrote the words later, but the cute teddy bear had a speech bubble that said, in English, "It's time to say f***!" I laughed and pointed it out to Mack and his friends, but only Mack seemed to get the awkwardness of the English and chuckled.

All of us came to a tea shop a little ways away, with the entrance facing towards one of the busy streets outside. After ordering at the front desk, we all sat and began to talk. Mack and his friends seemed to get a little more quiet as time went on, like they were enjoying the quiet atmosphere (or just being shy), so I decided to start overpowering everyone with my awesomeoness by leading a bunch of conversations at once, just like I did in Then and Now 31.

With that previous practice under my belt, I was easily able to get everyone talking and laughing together, and I quietly beamed with pride at how much progress I was making with my life. In high school and most of college, I practically glued my back to the wall, eyes downcast, and let others talk without me. But here, I was making news friends happy with fun stories about my time in their country, and getting them to tell their own.

We all nursed our drinks slowly so we could keep the conversation going, until friend after friend had to return to their apartments, houses and dorms and leave everyone else behind. Finally, when only Mack and I were left, we went back to the subway, said goodbye and headed off in different directions.

Right after, I got in touch with May, and she and I met up at an outdoor market. I had already been there in Then and Now 1 to see the expensive statue and furniture shop, but May took me down a different side of it. The main path of the outdoor market was spacious enough to let five or so people walk together through it, but May took me down the smaller side path that went past some food places, barely enough room for two to walk abreast.

One of them was a place that was lit like a bar, and had roughed up wooden tables like it was a bar, but they only sold fruit drinks, tea and coffee. We went inside to get a quick drink, talking about her college life and my work, until her phone started to ring; it was more of her friends asking her if she wanted to hang out. They were in the neighborhood, so we met up on the big path outside of a toy store.

Three of them were locals, but one of them was an American that May knew from college. He was a confident, friendly gentleman, and introduced himself in a welcoming way that I hadn't experienced since I first met Ken at the hostel. We chatted for a bit about America and the things we missed (and I had to mention burritos), but I started feeling really sleepy as the conversation continued. I apologized to everyone and said I had to go, and promised May that I would see her again later. Strongly shaking hands with the American, we smiled big smiles and made half-hearted promises to keep in touch. We never spoke again, but it was still nice to meet him.

Soon enough, I was on the train back home, and after the final bus ride, I was home for a shower, sleep, and a coming Sunday with nothing but relaxation and fun to look forward to.

As for today...

I woke up at 8:00.
I surfed the net.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I ate lunch.
I took my wife and son to the arcade, then we went home.
I played blocks with my son.
I watched TV.
I roughhoused with my son.
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 cleaned up the floor and table.
I did the dishes.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I slept.

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