Valentine’s Yada Yada…

We can’t get away from the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day, so brace yourself for the obligatory Valentine’s post.

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...

This lady seems ecstatic about Valentine’s Day, too. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. R. and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’d prefer to get flowers every now and then (a fact mostly forgotten by my undoubtedly wonderful husband) and not just on February 14th when they cost a fortune anyway… The happiest people of all that day are anyway the flower vendors and Hallmark shop owners. I can’t help but notice the big smiles on their faces (probably they are just calculating how many more roses / cards they have to sell until they can buy themselves a new Mercedes). However, I do remember one Valentine, I believe it was our first, when Mr. R. sent me the most amazing bouquet to the hotel where I was working at that time. I felt like a real princess! Maybe I even felt a little happier than the flower guy that day.When I came to think of that moment, I also started thinking about how we began dating. To be honest, the whole time we were on our first date, I had no idea it even was a date. (I never said I was the smartest girl on the planet.) But first things first.

Mr. R. and I met 16 years ago at hotel management school, and apart from Hello and Good-bye, we didn’t really talk much in the beginning. I knew that he had a girlfriend and was living in one of the suburbs, while I was being a single city girl. And as I mentioned before, people from my hometown are a bit peculiar when it comes to neighbourhoods: Only people from certain neighbourhoods tend to mingle, and people from the suburbs are mostly frowned upon. Yes, we are a snobby bunch special.

File:Monchhichi doll.jpg

That looks about right – minus the body hair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But then a new seating order was put into place according to which Mr. R. and I all of a sudden faced each other from the opposite sides of the classroom, and while he for the first time realized that I had a face, I became aware of his quiet irony that reminded me of my brother’s – a fact that scored him extra bonus points. And as of that day, even the dreariest of lessons became so much more interesting. However, since I knew about his girlfriend, I didn’t even think he might be interested in me other than platonically. And as I have always had more male friends than girlfriends, that seemed pretty normal to me. (Also I pictured him as the kind of guy who is more into the barbie kind of girl, and having just had my hair cut to half an inch length, I clearly looked more like a monchhichi doll. No joking.)

And so one day when he stopped me on the street to ask for my mobile number, I still was a completely clueless chick. Well, in my defence, he did ask in kind of a long-winded way for instead of asking for my number, he asked me whether I had a contract with provider X which I denied. “Could you still write down your number for me?” he asked, and I said Yes and forgot about it – after all, I couldn’t help him with the problems he apparently had with his cellphone provider, could I?

The following Sunday I was just having a nice cup of tea in front of my parents’ fireplace, when my phone rang: Mr. R., who wanted to ask me out that night. Nothing unusual, I thought, he needed someone to keep him company and share a glass of wine with, and we agreed to meet at a cozy wine tavern where Mr. R. gallantly shared a bottle of red wine with me – although he didn’t even like red wine at that time! But that I should not know until much later. We talked and talked, it was a very pleasant evening, and only in the end did I ask him what his girlfriend might be doing that night. He replied that they had split up quite some time ago, and suddenly, it dawned on me that we actually were on a date! Maybe it was a good thing that I hadn’t known before, for I am not sure how well the red wine would have sat with me and thousands of butterflies in my monchhichi stomach.

Never would I have believed back then that one day, we would be travelling the world together as expats! Life is full of surprises!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! And whether you celebrate this day or not, I hope it may hold only pleasant surprises for you!


Single White Female

As exciting as it can be to move from country to country, it is also challenging – especially when it comes to making friends.

In a previous post, I was talking about how easy it is for children to make friends, and how hard it is for us (or some of us) in adult life. And I even find it more difficult now that I am married.

English: friendship

English: friendship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my single years, I used to go out with friends and it was easy to just start chatting with somebody new which of course (in the case of a guy) very often also led to a date. So that’s no option anymore. Says my husband, and he is usually right. Friends seem to be a little bit like money: If you have some, it is just adding up to more, but getting together the first couple of bucks (or friends) is the hardest.

Recently, I mustered the energy to ask another expat wife whether she would like to go for a coffee – and boy, was that hard for me! It is just as hard as asking somebody out on a date. Or so I assume, because let’s face it: I am a girl. And being a girl, I liked to take the easy route and wait for the guy to ask me out, which always worked. Never in my life have I asked a guy out. And while asking another woman to go for a coffee is certainly not asking somebody out on a romantic date, it involves the same silly thoughts:

What if she thinks I am too needy? What if she thinks I must be weird because apparently I have no friends? What if she thinks I am really stupid but because she is so polite, she doesn’t want to say no? What if she thinks I am a creepy psychopath like Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Single White Female“?

need some coffee?

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those had been my exact thoughts before I scored my very first coffee date in Seattle. Almost two years had passed without me making any friends apart from colleagues of my husband’s. And that is not the same, right? It is like borrowed friends. Or second hand friends. But even meeting up with colleagues was difficult, since we were living downtown and most of his colleagues were living outside of the city. Most people our age have their families and are eager to go home after work. So our social life was non-existent. So I took up yoga class, partly because of the yoga, partly because I wanted to meet akin people. However, almost everybody stayed to him/herself (that’s very Seattleite), and I still felt quite isolated.

And then Miss N. joined the yoga studio and immediately I felt drawn towards her. So I started thinking… Maybe I should ask her to go for a coffee? And all of the above questions and many more sprang to my mind and made me hesitate and hold out – until one day I did ask her. And she said yes! (If that sounds like the beginning of a romantic love story to you, then it proves my point: it is very similar to asking somebody out on a date.)

And like on a first date, I felt a bit nervous upon meeting her for the first time, and later on she confessed that she had been struggling with the same doubts. By now we are best friends and I wouldn’t want to miss her for the world. Which is one of the reasons why I keep going back to Seattle whenever I can. It’s like a long-distance relationship, haha!

Bearing that experience in mind and deciding that at the age of 36 I should be able to make the first step towards what may become a new friendship, I now asked that nice lady out on a coffee. She said she would love to and that she was glad I had asked her. But what if she is just too polite to say no? What if she thinks I am a bore? …

…Uuh, the beauty of first dates! 🙂