His name was Yang, as in “ocean”. The first time I met him–that night in Jerry’s bar–I cracked a pun, playing on the double usage in Chinese of the word “ocean”. It can also mean “foreign”, as in “from the other side of the ocean”.
I said, “那，我应该属于你，我是洋人。”
Well then, I must belong to you. I’m a foreigner (an “ocean person”).
My eyes were squeezed shut in mirth, laughing at my cleverness, so I didn’t see the look in his eyes that day.
Later on we sat together in a corner, and talked about life. We talked a lot about China, cultural differences. We talked about my British ex-boyfriend, and how even though we both spoke English, there were always things that neither of us could explain to each other.
I really liked how Yang’s hair stuck out, and after the alcohol started going to my head, I reached out and touched it, ran my hands through it. It was surprisingly soft. I remember that he smiled.
He invited me to Wenshu Monastery the next weekend. We walked around aimlessly, commenting on the tourists. At some point he took my hand. That day lasted forever.
Another day at Jerry’s bar, Yang turned up already completely wasted, and he wouldn’t tell me where he had been. He just made me sit next to him and play the dice game. That was the first night we slept together.
I remember looking into his eyes that night, really looking. They were so black, so dark. I fell into them, wrapped up in his mystery.
Pieces of his story kept floating to my ears–his job, his family, his ex-girlfriends. Everything was related. I found out that he had been married. But then his wife ran off with her girlfriend. He ended up giving her the apartment, and they still spoke to each other. His job was stressful, some high-risk investment thing. He never spoke about it much to me…maybe he thought I couldn’t understand.
Instead we just held each other at night, and spoke about nothing.
We never moved in together, but I spent a lot of time in his apartment. It looked like it belonged to a college boy, and sometimes I cleaned it for him, on days when China was too much for me to handle and I needed to escape the chaos, to fall into the monotonous routine of scrubbing and mopping and putting things in their places.
One day he came home from work to find me there, drying dishes. He took my hands, commanding my attention. Then he kissed me fiercely. He looked into my eyes and asked, “你真的属于我吗？” Do you really belong to me? I just returned his kiss with a vengeance. And again. And again.
Then there came the day when I realised that I loved him. But by then it was already too late. We had always lead separate lives, no matter what we meant to each other. He had found himself a good Chinese girl, introduced her to his parents. They liked her and he was going to marry her. Everything was in its place…and I was stranded. I had fallen into the ocean and lost myself in its depths.Share...