Thursday, February 14, 2013


Things had not changed much in the Chinese student community. It wasn’t long after I had arrived in college. There was an older Chinese graduate student, his name was Zhang (张), in my department. He was married and had 10 year old son. He told me that his friend would give him a ride to go grocery shopping on the weekend. I could join him since there was still room in the car; I was glad since I did not have a car. So, we went grocery shopping that night. A week later, he asked me how I would think of his friend Hua as a boyfriend. I was shocked that he did not talk to me first and did not even ask me whether I had a boyfriend or not. Now, I knew they were talking about me behind my back. He told me that Hua was an excellent guy, a post-doc in computer engineering. But I just don’t like boys coming around picking me up like that. I told him that I wasn’t ready for any other relationship yet. I had a boyfriend in Japan. He wanted me to give up the friend in Japan from an older brother point-of-view. He wanted me to be more realistic. I told him that even if I was ready, I didn’t need any men like him introducing me to a boyfriend. I would find one myself. I met his friend already and if he wanted to let me know something then he could see me himself.
     He told me how he got married. He and his wife were college mates. They fell in love in college after they were introduced. After they graduated, they wanted to get married. So, he asked permission of her parents. Her parents wanted all the gifts and one hundred Yuan from him. One hundred Yuan was two months salary at that time. He just started to work and hadn’t saved any money yet. Finally, he had to borrow money from his friends to send to her parents before he received the “Okay” to marry their daughter. I told him, “so, I guess your wife was worth one hundred Yuan plus those gifts you sent to her parents.” I told him that only my grandparents were married that way. My parents married each other without anything but love. My grandma didn’t ask anything from her son-in-law. She just hoped they would love each forever. I was surprised how such a thing could happen to him. I had never heard such a story in our generation. He must have come from the really rural country, Shanxi (山西).
     Later on I met his wife, she was a very good wife helping her husband and taking care of their son. She complained to me that her husband loved drinking; he would go out drinking with his friends every Saturday night. He came home drunk at midnight, and could not stop talking; their son was sound asleep already. Sometime she had to beat him with the ruler next to their bed to quiet him down so he would not wake up their son. He had no clue why he had marks on his body the next day.
     One day, I was working in the campus computer lab when Li (李), who came to college with me on the plane, stopped by. He told me that Yale man whom we met on the plane; he had been looking for me. I asked him how did he know the Yale man was looking for me. Li told me he had been looking for me for months through the computer. I was amazed by what they could do on the computer and I was impressed by the Yale man’s effort. He called me a few times. I told him I was not ready for any other relationships yet since I was hoping Wang Lin could come to US. He got the message and we stopped communicating.
     Not sure because this Yale man’s efforts moved Li, but he got his courage to ask me out one day, I went out with him but not as a date; we had a good talk. He was one of 21 genius kids in China who went to The University of Science and Technology of China in 1978. The average age of his class was 14 and the youngest was 11 years old. He was much younger than I was. I was almost 17 at 1978. I treated him like a little brother although he did help me a lot on the way to college and with computers since that was his major. He thought he was big enough for me; he did take well care of me since we met. I told him he needed to find someone closer to his age. I laughed at him for being silly, and he thought it was silly too. Later on, he did find a girl of his age and eventually married.
     Another boy Liu very honestly told me he had a girlfriend back in China; he was not sure to take her out and marry her. He said that I would be his better choice if I agreed. I told him that I was not ready to have a relationship yet. He then went back to marry the girl and took her back to the US. They had a daughter together. His wife and I became good friends; she did ask me once if her husband had ever chased me and I told her no. She was happy to hear.
     Wang went to University of Tokyo, we still wrote to each other. But I felt that I needed to get more letters from him than he needed from me. I found myself looking for his letter everyday. It seemed that I received fewer and fewer letters as time went on, while I wrote more and more letters to him. I told him about all the difficulties with languages and trying to follow up on classes. At one point, I was almost ready to give up and fly to Japan.