Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In a Crowd On My Own

When I started this blog, I told myself that I would always be honest. Maybe I wouldn't talk about every little detail of every little thing, but whatever I did mention, I would do it without holding back. If I'm going to talk about something, I might as well expose the good, the bad and the ugly. But sometimes I simply don't want to talk about it.

When I went to Paris in April, I had Ryan's full support. He recognized that it was a unique opportunity and he wanted me to go. As soon as I was in Paris, he wanted me to leave. We talked on the phone and Skype every day, but he didn't like where I was and what I was doing. I reminded him that he had wanted me to go, but you can't really bring up things like facts during an argument. They only upset people. While Lily and her boyfriend talked and did things on the computer that are definitely not safe for work, Ryan and I argued.

One of Ryan's many complaints was that there was no way we were going to see each other in person while I was there. In Hong Kong, I can hop on a flight and see him in a few hours. We used to see each other about once a month when he moved to Fuzhou, but we were making an effort to see each other more just before April. While I was in Paris, it was going to be at least a full month before I would get on any plane to China.

About a week after I came back to Hong Kong, he came over for a brief visit. More often than not, I went to him. He usually only came here on holidays. But after taking a full month off of work, I really wasn't in the best position to get any more time off.

While he was here, we argued and broke up. Then we got back together again. That might have been just for the make-up sex. When you have not seen each other in about 8 weeks, a little physical activity is always a good thing, whether you're in fighting mode or not.

As soon as we got that out of our systems, we broke up again. He went back to Fuzhou and I went to work. We both knew there would be no make-up sex this time. It was the first time he ever went to Fuzhou and I was not on the phone with him that night. That was unusual. I didn't know when or if I would ever talk to him again.

A few weeks later, his mother told me that he moved back to Minnesota. I was almost shocked, but expected it at the same time. He always said that he was staying in China for me. About a year after we moved to Hong Kong, he wanted to go back and I wanted to stay. He never liked living in Hong Kong and only barely tolerated Fuzhou. In a way, it was flattering to know that he really was only in China for me. At the same time, that only caused more problems.

We had a few things working against us. As soon as he moved to Fuzhou, we were in a long distance relationship. Hong Kong and Fuzhou are not that far apart, but they are practically in different countries and require all of the hassles of airports and immigration control to get from one to the other.

I always made more money than Ryan. Too many men feel threatened by that sort of thing. In Hong Kong, we lived on my salary. In Fuzhou, he made enough to survive, but I paid for more of our trips than he ever could. The cost of living is low enough in Fuzhou that he could have saved money if he tried, but he never put in the effort.

Then there is sex. When he lived in Fuzhou, he was not getting any. Despite everything, I do not believe that he ever cheated on me. He was terrified of catching some horrible disease, so prostitutes and bar girls were out, and most of the healthy girls in the area were the type who would never give an underemployed foreigner the time of day. Had we been older, it might not have mattered. But we moved to Hong Kong when he was 20 years old. That's not an age where guys like to be celibate.

Everyone said that we were too young to live together when we got our first apartment, but it was living apart that finally ended our relationship.

Ryan and I met in high school. We were together long before Hong Kong, before I started traveling to so many great places, before I met Lily. We were together before my career started to go somewhere. We were together before I even had a career. We were together before we were old enough to drink alcohol or vote. In a lot of ways, we grew up together.

If I look at it philosophically, it was inevitable. Our personalities were maturing in different ways. I have career goals and a list of places I want to visit where I can explore the culture, meet new people and eat great food. His goals are to become a rock star and get drunk every night. When he lived in Fuzhou, he worked at a bar. That was never going to be great for anyone.

As Lily says, “Shit happens.” I try to see the silver lining and deal with whatever is happening in the most positive way I can figure out. She has an innate ability to cut through all the bullshit. This might be why we are such great friends. I am the yang to her yin.

The last time I broke up with a boyfriend, I was in high school. In retrospect, I don't think I took it very well. But I didn't really know how to take it. I was a teenager. By definition, I didn't know what was going on.

This time, I like to think I had more tools at my disposal. For example, in high school, I was a mediocre cook. Now, I can whip up mint brownies, double chocolate chip cookies, banana muffins, lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, cinnamon rolls with the same cream cheese frosting – if it works, use it – and all kinds of unhealthy things that require an extra jog or two around the island. Maybe that's not the best way to handle things, but when I found fresh mint for the first time in years, I was as happy as I could be. I don't know why it's so hard to get some of the most basic herbs here.

Aside from eating too much junk food, I work at Disneyland. More than a few people have had more than a few bad things to say about that company as an employer, but they have been good to me. Walking into the happiest place on Earth everyday – or at least the happiest place south of Japan – is a great way to boost your spirits. Say what you will about Mickey, but no one is depressed around that giant rodent.


  1. the ebb and flow of life,

    Keep the memories of the good things you did together,

    Look forward to new horizons!

  2. Mmm... I have been reading your blog on and off since some time in 2012 when I moved to Taiwan. I was looking for some English language blog about Hong Kong since I have always had a sort of a love affair with the city since my first visit there about 10 years ago.

    I remember when your boyfriend decided to move to Fuzhou that I never understood his decision at the time. I mean, he was already in one of the best cities in the world (HK). Why would you take a gig to go to Fuzhou? I remember thinking at the time "dude, just do whatever you need to do to thrive in HK - even if it means having to get into another line or work or something... HK is just too good of a place to just pack up and leave unless you really have no way to make something of yourself there..."

    I know you have already said that he did not like living in HK and China, but I just think that, to have the opportunity to live in HK is a great blessing and should be really appreciated. I know I am biased in my opinion about the place, but whatevs...

    Yeah, so I am rambling. As for you - you sound like you will be fine without him. I mean, I am sure you will be fine, actually. Well, in the meanwhile, come enjoy some Andy Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPOENbw9Cj0

  3. Hong Kong is definitely not for everyone. It has a lot to offer, but the culture and climate are a world away from the way we grew up.

    One of the reasons we came to Hong Kong originally was so Ryan could work as a musician. That wasn't happening in Minnesota. Getting some other job would not have made any sense. He never really liked Fuzhou either, but at least his band could work there. In Hong Kong, no one was interested in hiring them.


No hate, please. There's enough of that in the world already.