Last Sunday I met Lau. We met on online. No, not THAT kind of online.
Lau had posted on the Gwanju Facebook page. Gwanju is the biggest city in this province and is becoming more to feel like my Mecca. There’s even an Indian restaurant there. Lau had posted that she wanted to become more involved with the Gwanju community joining groups etc and before Christmas I had decided that this would be an avenue for my own sanity in 2014. A few messages back and fro from the mysterious Facebook “other folder” (did you know this existed?) and we were meeting outside the Ecograd at 2.30pm on Sunday.
Just like a date I tried to preempt an impression. Except this was not to find a sex partner, this was expat dating. You still tingle with anticipation at the prospect of meeting someone new and hope it is not another in your face American. I’M SORRY but there are some here. NOT ALL OF THEM but some indent on my British reserve in a painful manner and there were the ones on on the bus coming down from Seoul’s N tower. A family bawked the whole way down the hill. My ears almost flapped in need of relief.
At 2.30, Lau who turned out to be Laura, was waiting outside the Ecograd. In Suncheon, Ecograd Hotel is my lighthouse. It signals that my apartment is close by. I still don’t know street names and I live on the third floor of apartment unknown on clueless street. She waved merrily from under her black cap and from within her long black padding (what my students call padded jackets) and chatted non stop on the way to the cafe. This was already going much better than my couch surfing date. EJ was possibly the most miserable woman placed on this continent.
I was taking Laura to Hasta Siempre. It turned out she had never been there before and I felt she must go. It is a gem. During the delicious autumn I sat by the open pulled doors and watched the leaves gradually change under the blue sky in the park located just opposite whilst drinking my violin cappuccino. It was a very wholesome South Korean scene. With Laura, I had a cello cappuccino but being the darker bean, it gets lost under the froth so next time I’ll stick to the violin. Laura was like a wound up toy ready to go. She didn’t stop talking but she apologized for this and I could empathize. As I navigated my way alone around Suncheon in the first weeks I would burst when I found someone to talk to. I’ve already mentioned how tough it can be to meet people and expat dating is a release valve.
I’ll not mention her age in case she ever reads this because I know its something she’s embarrassed about. Heck, I’ve tried to disclose my age on numerous occasions as obviously according to the dictum of normal life by 30 you should have a steady job and steady life. At least once a week I have this conversation,
Teacha? How old?
Here we were then, two single, childless women both having left 30 behind but rough and tumbling our way through an expatriate lifestyle of self indulgent travel and suffering the serious lack of eligible men here in Suncheon. Well, that’s if you count not being able to speak English as being illegible? Time will tell and in the meantime at least the food is great
So, as far as first dates go this was grand and an after an hour we were even planning a weekend away. I know, it’s a little hasty you may think but sometimes you have to take these opportunities and just run with them. Part of the beauty of a non suburban, non settled life and just so you know, Laura IS AMERICAN and LOVELY but will it end in tears??