West Meets East

Six months down the drain.  There’s no way she’s going to call me back after that dud of a date.

She was so beautiful, too.  More than I ever imagined.  That picture she sent didn’t do her justice.  In that photo she was pretty, sure, but in motion she was a goddess.  The way she moved her hands so gracefully when she spoke.  She glided down the sidewalk when she walked, as if her feet weren’t even touching the ground.

I can’t believe I blew it.  Barely a “goodbye” at the end, and not so much as a handshake.   I thought we’d be close enough for at least a hug after the summer we shared.

Perhaps there was some sort of language barrier.  Her written English has always been pretty good, with a few occasional misspellings or wrong words.  But maybe she just can’t speak it very well.  She was awfully quiet the whole time.  All she ordered was a salad and soup, too.  I’ve seen that order before.  That’s the “I don’t care about this date” meal.

What was I thinking when I replied to that online personal ad anyway?  There was a simple picture of her face and the only details were “Japan” and “I like to go hiking.”  Did I really expect anything to come out of that?  But then we had so many email conversations.  We got all the “getting to know you” stuff out of the way: favorite foods, embarrassing moments from the past, what we wanted out of life–stuff that doesn’t usually come up until a fifth or sixth date after you’ve already fallen physically head over heels for someone.  Maybe if we’d done things the normal way we’d still be on our date, or she would have given me a hug.  Anything more than that “goodbye”.  She didn’t even say she’d call me.  I know she won’t.

I bet she was upset that my Japanese wasn’t as good as it should be.  I didn’t even try to speak any.  I called her once before she flew out from Japan, and she kept asking me to speak Japanese, but nothing would come to mind.  I should have tried harder.

I was so sure this was going to be the start of something special.  We’d gotten so close over email and instant message this past summer.  When she first told me back in June that she was coming over on a work visa in September, it felt so far away.  All summer as our emails grew longer and more frequent, I couldn’t quite believe that she’d actually be here in town in a month or two.  And then when the terrorists flew into the World Trade Center and her program was suspended I was torn up.  I’d never get to meet her in person and I had that depression to deal with on top of the other feelings of fear and sadness evoked by that tragic day.  We’d started talking even more after that, about even more serious things.  That’s when we got into what we wanted out of life, and what our greatest fears were.  Both of us were afraid of being alone.

And then when I heard that the program was still on and she’d be coming to Florida to work after all, I was elated.  In my mind that had been the final sign that this really was something amazing that we had.  We knew each other so well without ever meeting in person.  All my friends thought I was crazy, and I even stopped telling them that I met a girl online.  I’d just tell them that I had a girlfriend and that she was currently overseas.

But now none of it mattered.  She’d smiled well enough at the beginning of the date, but by the end her face had taken on a pretty silent, serious tone.  All without ever saying much.  We talked a bit about her flight, and about her work program.  She’s going to be learning how to make sushi and tempura at the Japanese restaurant at Epcot.  That was a crazy thirty or forty mile drive from my place, but I’d make that drive every day to see her if I could.

But I can’t.  I won’t.  I did something wrong on the date and I don’t even know what.  I don’t even have a phone number to call her back.  She’s got mine, but I never got hers.  Probably because she doesn’t have a phone yet.  And she doesn’t have computer access yet either, so I can’t even email or instant message her.  So close to something special, and gone in a flash.

I close the apartment door behind me as I walk in.  It’s dark and lonely, and I can’t help but think it’s going to be that way for a long time now.  But then something happens.  The phone rings as I set my keys down on the counter.  I slip my shoes off and walk over to answer it.

It’s Aiko.  And she wants to see me again.

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3 thoughts on “West Meets East

  1. Some background is necessary here, because it reads so much differently than the other stories on this blog.

    This was my first date with the girl I later went on to marry. I wanted to practice writing some stream-of-consciousness stuff and my ridiculous over thinking of the situation that night was a prime candidate.

    So there you go!

      • Thanks! I remember back in the day it was so embarrassing to have met someone on the internet. We used to tell everyone we met at Disney. Which wasn’t entirely a lie. We just didn’t bother to tell anyone that we’d been sending emails back and forth for months before we ever met in person 🙂

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