I’m sitting on a plastic chair at a bunch of hawker stalls drinking Heineken. It’s almost 5 bucks for the bottle, but it’s 640 mL. I guess that’s a fair price, it just feels like a lot since nothing else is more than $2 here.
I don’t want to go home.
There, camped in the living room, is Nida. She’s Nick’s Thai girlfriend. Kind of. She decided to surprise him with a visit, except he decided to move to America permanently without telling her. So she showed up midafternoon with some light knocking on the door. Ray let her in. I was sitting in my office editing, the music blaring.
“Uhh, hey, dude. Nida’s here.”
“What the fuck?”
Nida doesn’t speak English. It took us half an hour and the help of Google translate to explain that Nick left and he really wasn’t ever coming back. We knew we’d gotten through because her face turned stern and she stopped asking questions. She sat in silence for a bit. Then she started crying. Ray went and got a box of kleenex, which seemed to me the most gracious, kind-hearted, tender act of all time. I was hugely relieved, since I had no fucking clue what to do.
I’m sitting at Soho, a bar downtown, sipping a black Russian and talking to two tourists from Fresno. They know my roommates through a friend of a relative. I call Nida the “pit of despair camped in my living room.” I drink some more.
After Ray and I got through to her that there’s nothing for her here, she perked up and started acting happy. It was unsettling. But we explained to her, via Google translate, that we had to go back to work. After a while she came to my office and asked if I was busy. I was.
When I finished my shift, I asked what she needed. Nothing. She just wanted to talk. I tried to nod politely and smile reassuringly as she said the same things over and over. Said how Nick told her he’d be back in a week. How they used to go shopping together. Excetera. I tried to maintain that Nick was gone forever; she merrily ignored me. Eventually I gave up and said I had to go. (I did).
I’m walking alone downtown. A small man with an unbuttoned polo slinks up next to me. “Chinese girl?” he asks. I wave my hand no. He walks with me a ways, and I keep waving him off, so he slips away. On the sidewalk a tubby dog sleeps, hind legs splayed awkwardly. I shove my earphones in.
I had gone back to the house between errands to bring Nida some char kuay teow. She scarfed it down. She wanted to know which bus to take to the bus station. I don’t know, man. I don’t take buses, just my bike. I don’t know what to do in general around heartbreak. She wants to crash on my couch (we sternly informed her that someone else had moved into Nick’s old room, which was true) and I don’t have the heart to turn her away.
Soon it turns weird. She hands me a slip of paper with her contact details and the sentence, in English, “I want to be your friend.” Later, she will send me a series of unrequited emails in broken English saying things like, “Are you free time.don’t forget to email me. I wert to be your friend.you very good,” and, later, “I wert to take care. I like you. Drop me a line.Please let me hear from you.”
Existence in general is surreal, but this sequence of events particularly so.