Oh, how I cried on this flight. Now, when I think about it I’m soooooo pissed at myself. Why? Because on Emirates flight, business bloody class, you get EVERYTHING. There’s food, unlimited wine and a classy cocktail bar. But what did I do instead of enjoying those amazing facilities? I cried. Cried, cried, cried, cried, cried.
Somewhere in this river pouring down my eyes I managed to order a cheese platter but my tied in knots stomach refused to cooperate, so I just gave up and put it on my business class table.
- Oh, what a red nose you have! – someone exclaimed from behind the cloudy curtain of tears still sitting in my eyes, but fortunately not falling down anymore.
- I burnt my nose once too! The weather in Hong Kong was lovely, wasn’t it?
It took me a while to realise what was happening: a flight attendant attempted to have a friendly conversation with me. Right, the business class perks.
Yeah, it definitely was – I admitted, absolutely not feeling the urge to explain my nose wasn’t red from the sun, but from the mad crying sesh I had.
Fortunately, I didn’t look too enthusiastic, I guess, so the bubbly-chatty unicorn of a persona trotted away to entertain other passengers.
After several more glasses of red and some more uncontrollable sobs, my exhausted body drifted into sleep.
During the layover in Dubai, I spent my time talking to James and frantically listening to a song he played. And, of course, crying.
Next flight and the onward journey is just a very blurred memory.
What came next was The Shock. The proper shock I faced because it felt like I came to a completely different reality. My Granny lives in a small town, so after the time I spent in hectic Hong Kong this mellow town felt more than boring. It felt dead.
Fortunately, Grandma got better and came back from the hospital which was a big relief. After a couple of days without James by my side, I noticed something in me began to change. I’m not sure how to put it into words not to sound strange but… it felt like I was getting my sanity back.
Strange moments of bursting into tears without any reason disappeared along with weird thoughts and nightmares. I even mentioned it to James one day when he called me:
- You know, it all feels so stupid now, all this crying and fights, that’s just so not me, I feel embarrassed.
- Why? It’s all human, nothing to be embarrassed about – replied my perfect Tinder friend. And I don’t want to go psycho here, but I swear I could sense a note of disappointment (?!) in his voice. Like he didn’t like what I just said.
- That’s just not me James, not who I am – I said once again as a confirmation. More to myself than anyone else.
That was the first time when the fatal Hong Kong entanglement was broken. And I was ME again.
James stopped calling me every day (even though he promised he would) but our chats were still pretty frequent and intense. The Woman reappeared in those conversations quite frequently, but this time I didn’t feel this overwhelming sadness while listening about her. To be honest, I was just getting more and more tired of one and the same story repeated over and over again. But I still listened, that’s what friends are for, right?
I don’t want you to think I became cold and indifferent to a guy who opened his heart to me, no, not at all. I was still there anytime he needed me ready for a chat, advice giving attempts etc. Just not crying my heart out anymore.
During one of those long phone calls, after at least an hour of listening about Her, I said:
- Listen, James, I’m very sorry but I really need to get back to work.
- Oh, sure no problem! – he replied – I forgot I’m 8 hours ahead and you’re still working.
- It’s ok – I smiled.
- Sophie? – he added when I was just about to hang up.
- I love you.
I held my breath feeling my stomach twisting and my hands getting wet and ice cold.
- I love you like a friend.
The main thing.
It didn’t really matter. I knew we were friends, or at least he told me we were.
Besides all this loving and exes, friendships and other issues, there was still one more thing, probably in that particular time – most important one: the support programme application. Even though we didn’t have anything ready and we were definitely running out of time James never wasted a second to tell me about the bright future ahead.
- The Chinese market is ours. – he used to say – With your blonde hair and tattoos you’ll be able to wrap them all around your finger.
A bit of a strange approach, isn’t it? I started working as a graphic designer, artist, illustrator or whatever you want to call it when I was only 17 years old. All those years I used my skills and experience to win clients. Not my appearance, so why out of the sudden the ink on my arm mattered so much? Still, this thing felt so minor that I didn’t feel the need to question anything about my partnership with James. He mentioned several times before, that he valued my experience and opinion, so there was no need to be worried, right?
Hands down, he was doing all the hard work, or, more precisely, all the work. My job was to take care of the visual part of the whole presentation without being too much involved in the written part of it, the core…or being not involved in it at all. A bit strange as for a partner, but I didn’t want to question that either. I knew James was running on the last fumes so moaning or complaining was the last thing he needed.
Unfortunately, I realised pretty quickly that when it came to the artistic part of the project I didn’t have anything to say there either… My Perfect Tinder Friend proceeded with giving me just raw instructions sent on any possible time of a day or night and awaiting immediate actions. Fine. I suck it up. “There’s not much time left, let’s do it his way” I thought. But it didn’t feel right at all.
Next, James stopped answering my calls. He continued on changing ideas or criticising every single thing I came up with by sending me shreds of information via e-mail.
“That’s not what I want”.
Finally, after yet another failed try to talk to him, yet another design sent in the middle of the night and one more email that consisting of nothing else but “wrong” I decided to do something about it. If we were supposed to be business partners creating something together, hand in hand, like he promised, that couldn’t go on this way.
In the most polite way, the nicest I could I wrote:
“James, I’m afraid you have an exact vision in your head and whatever I’m gonna come up with won’t be exactly like this one you want. I tried to call you many times to talk about it but you’re always out of reach. I think that some those designs I’ve sent you are pretty good and we could discuss what to eventually change in them but once again – I need to talk to you to agree on something”.
And then, for some reason… he flipped.
I was called a cunt, an irresponsible millennial getting “all fucking hormonal”.
“Don’t want to come to Hong Kong – fine! Want to ruin everything – fine! Guess what, I don’t need you!”
I’m not gonna quote any more of this very long and very angry email but it came as a proper shock. It was a proper madness. A storm of mean words after weeks of silence. Why? I didn’t do anything wrong!
Then…I understood. I wasn’t a friend, I wasn’t a partner. I was this person you could put all of your frustrations on. Also, I was this tattooed girl that would be good to have along for client meetings in China, and, who could, eventually, sometimes draw something exactly along the guidelines.
A small lego brick in his master plan. A brick he could use when he needed and nothing else mattered.
Or maybe… I still didn’t want to believe that my Perfect James, in the end, wasn’t that perfect.
All shaken to the core I started typing my reply:
“James, I don’t understand why you try to offend me and call me names. I’m just trying to find a solution to this situation. I know you’re tired, but, if we’re about to be business partners, working together, we should cooperate. You’re not my bully-boss. Let’s explain it. Please call me.”
That was on Monday, July 24, 2017. He never called.
Granny was relieved! In her eyes, not blurred with silly admiration towards James, he was just emotionally unstable and going to live with him and starting a business together was nothing else like an exquisite form of emotional seppuku.
There’s still icing on a cake that has to be told.
3 or maybe 4 weeks later, walking the sunny streets of London I nearly jumped when my phone suddenly beeped. It was James.
I took a deep breath and replied: “Congratulations James. I’m very happy for you, because you worked very hard and you deserve it. Although, I don’t think that we would make good business partners. Still waiting for your call to have a proper chat instead of pretending nothing happened :)”
…and he never messaged me again.
Maybe I’d be prancing around all in Chanel now, top to toes, maybe I’d be living in a villa in Hong Kong, but you know what? I’ve got an amazing job as a game artist that I can do from all over the world and where people appreciate me because of my skills, not my blond hair or tattoos.
And nobody calls me a cunt or an irresponsible millennial here, so I guess it’s a winner.
And also…it looks like I might not have to use Tinder ever again 🙂