What if the love you always hoped for never came to be, despite how hard you tried to make it happen? That’s what happened to an anonymous woman who desperately loved a young Chinese man who went to her university. She shares their story in this emotional post.
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Five and a half years ago, I met you for the first time when I went out to eat at a small Chinese restaurant with my grandmother. It was a magical moment to me even still today.
I was much younger then, fresh out of high school and going to a little community college. You had just moved to America to start at the university soon. I was in the same boat; about to transfer into the same university, but also in a poor and unhappy relationship.
The moment I saw you, you looked at me and smiled, even though it was an obligatory smile to the customer, I felt that smile all the way to my toes, and I remember blushing so hard I thought my head might pop.
You wore glasses just like me, I still remember they were circle frames, and you looked so handsome. You kind of reminded me of Harry Potter, because that was still pretty big then, right? But you were also Chinese, and you didn’t speak much.
Oh, but I tried so hard to talk to you. I tried really, really hard.
I had already learned some Chinese beforehand, but you renewed it. I started bringing a dictionary every time my grandmother and I ate there. When I turned 20, I wrote it out, in Chinese, telling you it was my birthday. I remember you smiling a little but you still never talked to me.
Then one day you did talk to me. As we talked a little bit, you made me love a culture I knew so little about a little bit more, because you were a part of it. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know you.
I fell in love.
My relationship ended. I looked for you. I tried. I couldn’t have done more than if I waved a flag in your face that said, “Please, ask me out!”
I knew you liked me. I saw it on your face. The way you acted. How you talked when you said hello. How you smiled at me differently than the other customers when I would come in. How you would ask the other servers to trade with you so you could have me at your table and you could sit and talk. How close you would get to me even though it was in front of my grandmother. You even started testing my Chinese, seeing what new I might have learned on my own.
But, you never asked me out.
Then someone else did, someone else took the chance and asked me out. I remember thinking about you. I thought about how no matter how much I tried, or poked, or talked, or bugged, or wrote sweet things in my poor attempts at Chinese, you didn’t want to ask me out. So I said yes.
Then you actually asked me out, after I had already said yes! You asked me to go shopping with you, because you needed a new jacket for winter and didn’t know where to go. You waited too long and I said yes.
But I went shopping with you anyways. I explained that since I was just helping you find a good store, it would be ok. I remember how fun we had had. How well we had gotten along. All the misunderstandings when we tried talking but you would reassure me that it was ok. It was so perfect and fun.
But I had already said yes to someone else, and it ended that day.
When I told you that I intended to go out with the guy, because I had said yes, you never talked to me again. Never.
Then I had gone to the college with the one I said yes to one day. I was helping him reregister for school because he wanted to go back. You were there in the office, and you looked up, surprised to see me there with him. I remember seeing you, and remembering how hard I had fallen for you. I made myself swallow it all down, because I cared about the man I was sitting next to as well. I had already made my choice and commitment. But you smiled at me, and came over to us, and talked to us. You mostly talked to him, I remember that. But it made me so happy to talk to you again. And then you let me exchange phone numbers with you again. Our friendship felt like it was at least renewed. I tried to approach it as just friends.
But for three years, we never really talked again. Not much. We ran into each other often, chatted a little, and would catch up.
Then last year, you surprised me. You did something out of the ordinary. You called me on the phone, and told me that you had a gift for me. It was so surprising. You wanted me to go out to lunch with you and catch up.
My god, I said yes! I didn’t care, I missed you so much.
We talked for hours, all night. We went out again, and again, at least 5 more times. We talked about the past, about everything we had done. We talked about the one time that we had gone out and how awkward it had been.
Then I told you how badly I had wanted you to ask me out. Then you confessed that you had thought I was so cute and it was sweet that I would eat every Sunday with my grandmother. You told me that all your coworkers had teased you and questioned you why you had never asked me out. Who cares if I had had a boyfriend at first, they told you. I clearly liked you more and I was unhappy. You even told me, you remember seeing us together and that I never stopped looking at you the whole time. You said how mean he had been towards me from the moment I had come inside. You remembered all of that.
You told me you had never realized how much I had liked you. You always assumed I wouldn’t want to go out with you. You laughed as we talked, because you couldn’t believe how foolish you were to not have noticed.
But now it was too late.
Every date we went on, you were more attentive then the last. You went back to teaching me about your culture. You told me things that I should know before I went to China. You even scolded me for using my chopsticks improperly but were impressed that I could use them so well. You called me a Chinese girl in disguise when I explained some of my beliefs and dreams and hopes. I told you how my number one dream was to be a mother and good wife. You liked that. You didn’t think many American girls wanted that anymore. You liked that I wanted to be a teacher, and I liked you just sharing things with me about your childhood and your past and what your home was like.
Then you came to me one night online, after seeing me so often now. I wanted to go out again soon. I wanted to show you a great place to go hiking and have picnics. It was my favorite place in the world. I told you, you could bring friends here. We could bring friends too.
But you stopped me.
You told me you had gone to talk to one of your professors. “I asked my professor if it was wrong for me to want to try and take a girl from her boyfriend,” you said. “I never hung out with you in the past as much as I have these last few weeks. I never realized what a great a girl you are. You are a lot like Chinese girls. I really like you. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
You said that to me, and I didn’t know what to say at first.
Then you continued, and told me, “But I respect your boyfriend. I like him. He is a good man and you seem happy with him, I’m not going to talk to you anymore after today. We shouldn’t be friends. I had fun together though.”
I cried for hours. Every time I thought about you, my eyes watered and I had to swallow the pain I felt deep in my chest. I cared for and loved my boyfriend. But my feelings for you had never changed. They had never died. I know and feel I can only blame myself. But I’ve chosen my path and I can’t stray from it. Some things have to be set in stone.
But here I am writing this right now. That’s because tonight, tonight I re-lived that moment I first met you 5 and a half years ago.
You walked into the store I work at now. You turned and looked at me, with shock in your eyes, and a smile creeping onto your lips. A smile spread across mine, and I felt the tingle in my toes again. For a brief moment, I felt that giddy feeling again of seeing you.
And you talked to me.
I told you it was my last semester of college, and it was yours too. But I had customers I had to take care of. You wanted to linger. You skirted around, trying to talk to me. But I was busy. So I smiled, and I said, “You can message me online.”
But then your smile was gone.
You looked away, just briefly and told me “I can’t, not anymore.” The pain came back again. My hurt came back, but I just smiled it off. “Are you seeing someone now?” I asked you. You said yes. “That’s great,” I said. You still lingered though, you wanted to talk to me more. I could see it. When the line formed again you apologized and left, with a short good bye. You didn’t even buy the thing you had come in to buy.
So I swallowed my pain.
The customer looked at me and asked, “Is he your boyfriend? You two really seem to have a connection.” I didn’t know what else to say but, “No, we just used to be good friends.
Tonight, I am here crying over you again.
I don’t know what else to do but to cry and accept the fact that all that remains between us is gone. Not even a friendship remains. In a year I will leave for japan. I don’t know where you will be after your graduation. You were still trying to stay in America, but you know you may return to China for good as well.
I can only hope and pray you are happy, and that I made the right choices. That, eventually, whatever it is that I still feel for you will go away one day. That it will become just another fond distant, sometimes painful, memory.