Maria Holland

This May Be The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 at 11:01 pm

I had lunch with XuLei today – not a big deal, we just met in the student cafeteria and ate together.  I didn’t realize until later how cool this was.  I was really frustrated in my attempts last semester to make Chinese friends because they seemed to think having a friend (or least having a foreign friend) was too much of a time commitment for them.  Every time we got together, it was just two of us and we always went to a nice dinner, usually followed by some other activity or at least a walk.  That sort of friendship is unsustainable, I think, and they didn’t – sustain, that is. 

But at least 75% of the time I spend with my friends (both back home and here) is really, in objective terms, nothing special.  We share meals in our apartments and dorms or grab quick meals in the cafeteria or cheap restaurants.  We run errands, watch movies or TV, walk places, or run into each other around campus.  It’s not what we do that makes the time special, it’s that we’re doing it together.  I was hoping for this sort of natural friendship when I came to China and, while I have been lucky enough to make some wonderful friends here, they’ve not been with Chinese students as I hoped.

Perhaps this simple meal (I had fried-egg-and-tomato) is a turning point though.  In fact – dare I even say it? – cliches be damned, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

My afternoon classes included the best ever listening class.  We watched part of a movie in which three guys (heading for an undercover business deal, therapy session, and hookup with a girl from the internet) got their phones and destinations mixed up.  It was hilarious, edgy, and 1000 times more interesting than the seasons in Beijing or anywhere else.

This evening, I went to dinner with XuLei, Lester, and XiaoYang (another dancer).  We went to perhaps the last restaurant near West Gate that I hadn’t eaten at yet – the Japanese place on the top floor of the McDonald’s building.  I had delicious tempura and the first sushi I genuinely liked. 

We went directly from dinner to dancing class, my first time this semester.  There were a ton of people there, including a lot of guys.  I guess they start over each semester, so we began back at the basic rhumba step, but I need the practice so it’s okay.  Dancing in a room of slender Chinese girls is second only to pants shopping in China for self-loathing, but as most of them were new students I took solace in the fact that I move my hips better than them.  That’s right, the elephant in the room has MOVES!

We know almost all of the student-teachers now.  We walked home with them tonight and are meeting for lunch at malatang tomorrow.  We’ve come a long way since I heard music by the Nanputuo gate that one night last fall . . . And to think, none of this would have happened (I wouldn’t have even met Lester) if I had known that there was a much-closer bus stop at Baicheng. 

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