Li Da

IMG_0155On June 6, 2015, I had a gig at Homeplate BBQ.  Plenty of BNDS friends came to eat and enjoy some music, and afterwards we headed to the Migas rooftop.  Derrick was despairing of how to talk to girls in such a setting, and I decided to show him how it was done.  There was a very attractive tall girl who was getting all sorts of attention from the guys there, but sitting next to her was a pretty, quiet girl, apparently all alone.  I sat down beside her and introduced myself.  She spoke not a word of English, so I decided this would be good chinese practice.  I asked her what she enjoyed doing, and she acted out scuba diving by putting one hand over her mouth and nose, while using the other to mimic diving down.  I asked her if she could swim well, and she said no, which I thought strange.  After awhile, we went to the dance floor and I placed my hands on her waist while we danced.  She smiled, and I was smitten.  Sitting back down again, I got someone to take our picture, and she covered her face with her hand; but the second time, she consented to be photographed with me.  In the coming weeks, I got to know Dada, wechatting her, she telling me that she had been married and divorced a few years ago, that her great ambition was simply to be a happy housewife, and didn’t have too much work experience.  We met at Green Shade for a dinner date of Yunnan food, she told me about her upbringing in Heilongjiang, how poor they were that she could not have many toys, and that now she enjoyed taking photographs as a way to stay close to her late father, who had been a photographer.  She had a brother who she was largely estranged from, and I felt we had some things in common perhaps, a poignancy about a frayed family.  It is difficult now, after two years, to go back in my mind and survey this period.  I stopped seeing the other women whose company I had been enjoying, Claire, Rosie, Valarie.  There was no reason for anything I did; I was simply falling in love with Dada.  The fact that we had little in common did not detract at all from the fever, I had to have this little Edie Sedgwick in my life, the vanity of her never-ending selfies, the over-the-top fashion statements, all of it was charming, she was warming up to me, I wanted to save her from the limbo she seemed to be in.  I had a gig with Lulu at Paddy O’Shea’s and she came with her friends, and I think she quite liked me singing Hotel California.  Afterwards we hung out at one of the boyfriends luxury apartment, and KiaoKiao warned me not to mistreat her.  There was drama that night which I think was triggered by me – KiaoKiao’s boyfriend thought it was a good idea for Dada to have a boyfriend, but she was against it, and we actually left when the sun came up, a friend of Dada’s making sure she didn’t leave with me.  We met up at Wudaoying a couple of days later to have a bit of a language exchange and see how that worked out.  She helped me with my chinesepod article, and I helped her pronunciation.  We laughed that when she said “eyes” it sounded like “ass.”  Right before I left for the states, she helped me picking out some souvenirs at the Pearl Market, haggling for me, Brandon’s family and Carlos were there.  Dada took me to a little place to get beef noodles, and then we sat down at a Starbucks.  This was goodbye for awhile, and after seeming to vacillate, she kissed me and told me she loved me.  I don’t know how I will do, playing catch up with this diary of my life in Beijing, if I want to be honest I will have to recount the tragic unraveling of this simple, fated love affair.  My heart is very heavy now as I write.  Time doesn’t seem linear to me anymore.  I think of these memories, and they seem removed somewhat from the normal flow of seasons and school years.


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