The Hong Kong entanglement.
“Where do I begin…” I’m opening my laptop with this “Love Story” theme playing in my head. What I’m about to share with you is, by all means, the most emotional one of the Tinder Stories. But don’t be fooled by the song – that definitely wasn’t a love story. Not at all. But even though love was never there, this strange Tinder-encounter shook me to the bones. And even though, it ended more than a year and a half ago, I’m still not 100% over it and probably…I will never be.
Memories from that time will probably haunt me for the rest of my days triggering never-ending questions. Where is he now? What does he do? How on Earth did he manage to become such an important part of my life in such a short period of time? Can you become emotionally addicted to someone? I still have no answers for the first three questions, but since a year and a half I know precisely what to say about the last one – you definitely can. You can be emotionally addicted to someone and it ain’t no good my dear…
Names and other details will be of course changed to protect his identity and my peace of mind.
This is the story of James – a very dangerous but also a very beautiful person. Even though the story left me broken for a very long time, if I could turn back time, I never would. Ever. In my weird stupidity (?) I feel like I’m bloody blessed that a story like this happened to me. And I don’t regret even a second of that time.
It was a hot and stuffy Sunday evening in Hong Kong. I was sitting on a bench in Kowloon Park, not that far from the infamous Chungking Mansions. Sipping my latte, looking hot (or sweaty) and, of course, swiping. Left, left, left…ha ha, funny, left, left…weird…left, left…oh, someone has Superliked me. James, The Superlike guy was much older than my average tinder-scope (39), freshly moved to Hong Kong and a 3D Artist/Designer. I couldn’t see much from his pictures but the fact that out of the sudden among all these scruffy backpackers and slant-eyed teenagers there was a grown-up man with a career (similar to mine) definitely sparked my interest.
The match was made.
Our conversation wasn’t anything super amusing, (far from amusing, to be honest) but when he suggested to meet me on Tuesday my Whatever Personality said – why not. And that was it, just a couple of average lines tapped on a screen on this Sunday evening.
Tuesday came but there was no sign from my Superlike guy and I couldn’t be less bothered (because I didn’t really care). He messaged me on Friday night. I already had my PJ’s on, wine in, I was watching some movies and preparing for my early morning flight to Taiwan. “Sorry, been busy, blah, blah, blah, could we meet over the weekend, blah, blah” – it didn’t matter. Bad timing. My Whatever Personality was determined to stay in bed.
“Come over now, I’m gonna give you some whiskey and I’m gonna feed you popcorn” – he offered, but, firstly, the flight was early and secondly, I wasn’t that mental to go and meet some random stranger in his flat, was I? But the wine did its job and so I somehow gave him my WhatsApp number. A couple of text messages never killed nobody. How could I know that he would be trying to call me?
I know that I’m probably not the only one who’s literally PETRIFIED of phone calls. Let alone phone calls from strangers. Not scared. P-E-T-R-I-F-I-E-D. So, of course, I didn’t pick up. Sorted.
The following morning was a crazy mess of my trying to get to the airport on time without losing any of my “24kg all I have” or hurting myself. There was some running, some falling on the ground, some Chinese businessman trying to kiss me on the bus to the airport (?!?) but I’ve made it to the gate, safe and sound and on time. When I looked on my phone there were already 2 missed phone calls from James (what a stubborn guy!) and… a voice message.
“I just wanted to wish you a safe flight and I hope you’re gonna come back to Hong Kong very soon”
Good that I was sitting because the voice was deep like the ocean that swept me off my feet. No jokes, I’ve never heard a voice like this one. And just like that, hit by James’s voice wave I started wondering: who the hell is this person?
My phone pal
Days went by in Taiwan, we were texting a lot and I was systematically ignoring incoming calls. But one day, finally, probably intrigued by the charming voice (yes I used to listen to the message several times a day, you can call me a psycho, or an average girl in this situation) I picked up the phone…DISASTER!
We talked for an hour.
It was great.
It was REALLY great.
Why disaster then? Because from that moment on I couldn’t imagine a day without him calling me.
Our evening phone calls became a tradition, every single day after work (in Taiwan I worked 2-10 pm, so quite late) I was calling him or he was calling me. I didn’t know many people in there so being able to open my mouth and have a proper, in-depth conversation with an intelligent person was simply priceless. Maybe that was my weakness and maybe he knew it and was already pl… Back then in my eyes, he was an Angel who by accident got lost on Tinder and whom I was lucky to find.
After a week or two and God only knows how many hours on the phone our conversations became really personal. We talked about our plans, past, future, relationships, good things, bad things – about everything. I couldn’t imagine a day without James. He became my dearest friend (whom I’d never seen in real life, duh). There was no sexual attraction whatsoever but he meant the World to me, more than any other past relation I’ve ever had…I guess.
Plans that change
But it still wasn’t enough of a trigger to change my free spirit plans: go back to Hong Kong to see him, leaving China for later instead. The reality check came later when I started organising documents for my Chinese escapade. It turned out that sorting out my visa in Taiwan would cost me more than sorting it out in Hong Kong plus the flight and maybe even a glass of wine. There was no need to think twice, the decision was made: I was coming back.
The day when I called him to share the happy news I was expecting something close to euphoria from his side. We were so close already, right? But his voice sounded a bit numb… I brushed this thought off considering it to be another over-exaggerated “gut feeling” I should simply ignore. I was going to Hong Kong to meet my 39 yo creative, amazing friend and I was over the moon. Or even higher.
The day came and I was rushing to the airport slightly mad at myself for my not freshly washed hair and not perfect makeup. Even though he was “just” a friend I wanted to shine like a diamond. In my head, I was calming myself down thinking I’m gonna have some more time to pamper: at both airports, on the plane and on the bus towards the Hong Kong city centre. Wishful thinking.
I’m always dramatically scared of flying (or losing my flight). So instead of pampering, I spend this time desperately trying to get to the right gate/passport control or praying for the plane not to crash. Silly, I know. That’s why when I finally got through the kong Kong passport control I was a proper hot mess. Hot mess frantically responding to James with one hand, brushing my hair with the other, looking for an ATM, checking bus departures to the city and pushing my massive suitcase with one leg. Like a lady.
Then suddenly… I froze. There was the very well-known voice coming from somewhere right behind me and whispering in my ear: “miss Zebra?”
It was him. With all his grace. I was so overwhelmed that I don’t even remember what and how I felt at this particular moment. Blank space. I guess It was as if someone pumped a truck of endorphins up my veins.
In this amazing moment who could suppose that only 2 months later my Granny will say: “Whatever happens please don’t go back there, it doesn’t feel safe”.