The thing with Helen is that she knows everyone and everything.
She would never accept an invitation on the spot, because she gets invited to so many things that she needs to pick the best parties before committing. Some may say that she has a case of the FOMO (Fear OF Missing Out). For me, she is exactly what I needed. She is well connected and always in the know. I know nothing.
My life pretty much took a 360 turn after I met her. I went from having zero friends to meeting new friends every week. From having no plans on the weekend (unless you count grocery shopping at Carrefour) to having social engagements everyday from Friday to Sunday. I was never a big networker back home, but under her wings, I became more and more of a social butterfly.
The two of us made a good team. She’s the approachable one that attracts people with her gregariousness. I am the compelling conversationalist that engages them with my witty sense of humour. Or as I tell myself in the mirror every morning…
Prior to Helen, I never had any motivation to travel hours from Pu-Jersey to Manhattan, I mean Pu-xi. Now I finally understood all the hype, why they say “Everyone eventually falls in love with Shanghai”.
There is always so much to do, see and EAT. If you are willing to get out and explore, Shanghai life can be extremely vibrant. There is this buzz in the air, the energy is infectious. However, this is not a travel guide, but if someone paid me big big money, I will write one! By big I mean I will settle for 100 bucks.
For example, the first weekend after our initial meeting, we went on a big group trip to Thames Town (Aka. The British Town of Shanghai).
Look! It’s Harry Friggin’ Potter!
Tons of people come here to get married. Hey, it’s cheaper than flying to actual London.
This is also where I first met Lucy.
Lucy is Lukas’ girlfriend from Taiwan. Prior to meeting her, I heard bits and pieces about their relationship from Lukas.
Here’s how he told the story:
Lukas went to a house party in Taiwan, and after awhile he realized that every girl he talked to was in a relationship. Getting frustrated, he yelled out “Who here is single???”, and everyone pointed to Lucy. They’ve been dating ever since, and now she’s moving to Shanghai to be with him.
“You must be so excited to see her!” I said to him before she came.
He made a face.
“Um, well, I’ve never lived with a girlfriend before. So I’m not sure how I feel.”
“But you asked her to move for you! That must have required some serious consideration beforehand.” I was never one to hold my tongue.
“No…I simply suggested it. She’s never been to China before, so I offered her a chance to travel. This is not a marriage proposal. If it works, it works. If not, at least she gets free room and board.” He said casually.
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure what to make of his response.
To me, asking someone to move in with you, let alone move countries (Hmm, I hope China doesn’t block my blog now), for you is usually done in a serious relationship. Then again, I thought, this is Shanghai; the rules here must be different.
I half expected Lucy to be this tall, outdoorsy Annie Oakley type that always carries around a camping gear in search for the next big adventure.
It turns out she’s actually a petite Taiwanese girl with fair skin and Bambie eyes. She is exceptionally well dressed. No hiking boots in sight.
“Hi, I’m Kathy. Nice to meet you.” I held out my hand enthusiastically.
She stared at me expressionlessly until I got really uncomfortable. Then she said to Lukas “I have to pee”.
Now I’m glad I didn’t greet her with a hug.