Hopeful 8 Hopeless 2
The hopeful-hopeless count once again indicates how I felt after my date with Huiqi. I had been feeling a little less hopeful overall, but after meeting him, I felt more encouraged. He exceeded my expectations, to be sure!
Huiqi had asked to meet me about a month ago. I had to put him off because of my school work just like the others. I wrote him about a week ago to tell him I had some time to meet. When we discussed where we should meet, it came up that we both like tea. He suggested, though, that we go for bubble tea. That is not really my idea of going for tea, but I thought it would be good to do something different. He told me we should meet at Cactus and suggested that I look it up on Google maps to make sure that I didn't get lost. I didn't know whether I thought that was funny or insulting...
Well, I certainly was not lost and I arrived on time. I got there before he did and the place was entirely empty. It was good, because I had my choice of where to sit, could consult the menu in advance and could see him right away when he came in. It was nevertheless a bit eerie to be there entirely on my own. When Huiqi arrived, he shook my hand, much to my relief. He scarce had time to mention something about where he parked when the waitress came by to take our order. I was still a little lost trying to distinguish which teas were bubble teas, which were regular hot teas and which were milk teas (I didn't even know what that meant!). The first one I asked for was unavailable, so I opted for green lychee bubble tea, because lychee is not a flavour you see just any day! Huiqi went for a milk tea without bubbles.
He asked me if I'd ever been to Cactus and if I'd had bubble tea before. I admitted that I had only had bubble tea once before and that it was my first time at Cactus. From there, the conversation was pleasant. I had been expecting him to be as exuberant and high-energy as his e-mails, but he wasn't. Reading his messages, I felt he was like the energizer bunny lithium, so I was convinced that inside of an hour he would have thoroughly exhausted me because my poor brain often cannot keep up at high speeds. Yet Huiqi was so calm! I could hardly believe it. I really appreciated his calm and positive energy for a couple of hours. For those of you reading out there that find a British accent charming, add that to the equation! I think some girls would've killed to be in my place just to listen to him speak!
We talked about a variety of subjects. I found myself mostly answering his questions and not getting to ask many of my own; he was rather inquisitive. For example, I was dismayed to find that I never managed to ask how to pronounce his name correctly, something that came up a great deal in our first messages. He touched on past relationships a little, but not in a negative way. For instance, he explained that his last relationship ended because of the very limited time his girlfriend had available to him. He was not openly showing frustration or criticism, merely stating that it was not a formula that worked for him. It occurred to me that I might present him with the same problem, but he further specified why it was a deal breaker for him and that left me in the clear. He said that seeing her once a week was not in itself a problem, but that coupled with not being able to call or e-mail or have contact of any kind in between because she was too "busy" was too difficult for him. That is exactly what I do to compromise: because my in-person time is limited, I supplement with electronic time. He assured me that that was just fine.
This topic morphed into a discussion about fate. Huiqi had told me in one of his messages that he didn't adhere to any religion, so of course he didn't approach the question at all in the same way that I did. His comment had been that "fate had cheated him" because he experienced moments that he was certain were signs that it was "meant to be", but that things had not worked out in the end. I expressed my opinion that perhaps he had been meant to have those experiences to learn something valuable from them and used the saying "everything happens for a reason". That may seem simplistic or not of sound logic, but I do believe it and, would venture to say, am not alone in this conviction. Huiqi listened, but did not react really one way or another, so I could not gauge whether or not he thought what I said was credible or not. He did, however, expand on the idea of the "magic moment" and told me the story of his latest one. He ran into a crush from Cégep after not seeing her for quite some time and, as it so happened, he ran into her on Valentine's Day. He thought this was a sign and all of his friends were very excited to hear whether or not he had managed to get in touch with her after this chance meeting. It took him a very long time and he had to go to great lengths to reach her, but he finally did. Unfortunately for him, she had a boyfriend. For whatever reason, this endearing anecdote made me recount my last "magic moment", which was with Giles on a rainy October afternoon (a story I will tell here another time). I had never expected to talk about him with any of the Plenty of Fish guys. It kind of just came spilling out. I did not speak about him afterwards or reveal any particular details; I just described the one afternoon. Curious as he was, Huiqi asked me in earnest if I still had feelings for him and why I shouldn't date him. I made as little reply as I could, putting the question to rest quickly.
It was becoming clear to me as I continued talking to him that he really is a romantic. This whole talk about fate and meeting on Valentine's Day gave me an inkling, but then he said it directly: I am a romantic. Huiqi talked about liking to give a girl flowers and chocolates. I remembered that he had sent me an electronic rose on Plenty of Fish and that he had sent me an e-mail I'd forgotten to reply to saying "should I bring a box of chocolates?" I am glad he didn't, because I am not sure how I would've reacted; I think I would've been a bit overwhelmed at receiving a gift of any kind at a first meeting. He explained that he likes to give such tokens of affection and appreciation, that it is really who he is and how he treats a girl. This might seem over the top or artificial to some people, but I felt it very genuinely from him. In some of his messages, I had felt that he was eager to please and perhaps rather too eager to please, to which my friend Crush (so called by people at her work because she is not one to mess with!) said that guys are just like little puppy dogs, always coming back ready to do anything for you if you just scratch them, even just a very little bit (thank you, Crush, for always knowing exactly what to say to make me laugh!). However, I saw no symptoms of anything that was not genuine sitting across from him in person. It had also already come up in an e-mail about how we should have separate bills on this outing to retain equality, but he insisted on paying for my tea too. Since I realized it was such a big part of who he is and I have been told repeatedly not to wound the guy's pride and because he told me he wished to do so particularly in the light of my being unemployed, I let him. Other signs of his romantic nature were the compliments he showered on me, the main ones being "pretty" and "intelligent". I defy any of you to try not to melt when a guy says that you are "pretty" with a British accent! The highest praise he bestowed on me was to say that I am a "gem in the dirt" (I think he was looking for "diamond in the rough"). He said that when he had asked me whether or not I had dated Chinese guys before or whether I had a physical type (which was obviously an important preoccupation for him). I told him that I don't have an "ideal type" or a preference, that for me the most attractive aspect is the personality. I explained to him how I look past all the physical features directly inside to the person. I don't see Caucasian or Muslim or tall or slim or anything of that nature; I see the person. I told him that someone is Beautiful Because I Love Them. I gave him the example of a high school crush, a loner from an underprivileged family, completely rejected and ignored by others, who was rather scruffy in appearance and had a long rattail that descended in a small braid all the way down his back; he became handsomer and handsomer the more I liked him. That answer was beyond his expectations and he said how very rare that is. It was validating for someone to notice that I do have some rare qualities.
His other main preoccupation was a deal-breaker that I did not pass. He asked, like pretty much everyone does, about why I chose Plenty of Fish. Then, however, he wanted me to be explicit about my experience with the dating. He wanted to know how many dates I had been on already, so I told him. He wanted a report on how they had all gone, so I explained to him that the first date had not worked out, but that the others went just fine. This is the point when I found out that he is much more decisive than me. He usually filtered through his messages and decided not to meet certain girls based on his criteria. I explained to him my method, which was a herculean effort to be fair to everyone and give everyone a chance. Had I been more like him, I said further, I should probably have eliminated the possibility of meeting him simply based on my preconceived notion that he was an energizer bunny, which was, as it turns out, not even accurate. Huiqi said that it had happened once or twice that he had gone a first date with two girls around the same time, but that he had been immediately been able to determine which of the two was better and that he wanted to pursue. So he understood that I am not as discerning as him. This is when he told me that he is not all that comfortable with my meeting other guys as well as him. He said that he did not want to see me again until I had come to a decision about the other guys. At first I was surprised, but I understood where he was coming from. My Mom was not sure that it sat well with her and warned me against someone who wanted to be controlling, like an abuser. However, I was really not getting that impression, because after all, he didn't tell me to stop meeting them or to pick him. He told me that he enjoyed my company (a sentiment which I assured him was mutual) and that he would certainly like to date me, or failing that, perhaps to be friends with me. He just did not want to see me again with the uncertainly still looming, but encouraged me to keep in touch. He was expressing his feeling and his standards for dating, which I think is totally reasonable. Also, exclusivity is something I value, so I was with him on that. I hate being in this impossible scenario with many potentials or "suitors" as Thomas would call them. I much prefer dating one person at a time; that fits more with my personality. So not only did I understand and respect this, I expressed my regret that I was not operating as I normally would because of the online dating experience. Huiqi left it entirely open, but he hinted that he did hope that I would go down my list and eventually come back to him. So we parted entirely amicably with another handshake.
So Huiqi has temporarily withdrawn himself from my list. I have not removed him, however, from my estimation or consideration. Now all that's left to see is whether the next time we meet it will be as friends or for a second date...