Chapter 51- Dumpling Dates and Banana Bread

Is this a date?

I seem to be wondering about that a lot these days.

As I scanned the streets for Joshua, I didn’t know whether to expect him, or a posse of bicycle enthusiasts. He’s part of a cycling group, so this could have been just a friendly invite to their weekend meet up.

So I was mildly surprised when he showed up alone.

We hugged and said hellos.

“So…are we waiting for anyone else?” I asked after awhile.

“No.” He answered.

So…maybe it was a date?

We rode from Century Park all the way to the river. I tried to keep up with him through busy China traffic, all the while thinking this is how I’m gonna die.

After we reached the river, it was night time already. We stopped by a 7-11 to get some drinks and decided it was time to head back before it gets too dark.

So this is not a date.

“Ohh, Dumpling House!” He suddenly stopped his bike in front of a road side restaurant “I love this place! Let’s go have dinner!”

Or is it a date???

Well, let’s see who pays…

He took charge of ordering because I was useless. Turns out he was an expert at Dongbei food because he was there for a year before Shanghai.

“What were you doing there?” I asked.

He told me his story. It was an interesting story. Except my thoughts kept drifting to Johan.

Pay attention! Say something interesting! I’d chide myself in my head.

“Yes, yes, Dongbei has great jiaozi(dumplings)…and baozi(bigger dumplings)…and…”

I wish I was here with Johah, I couldn’t help thinking again. He always has funny things to say. Our conversations were so much…easier.

No! Focus! I tried to snap my attention back to Joshua.

He told me about his mom. I found myself counting down the time.

I was frankly relieved when we finished dinner. I was pretty sure he was bored as well.

Except the waitress would not come back with the bill! Ugh, will this date never end???

“Oh I think we have to pay at the register.” Joshua realized.

“Oh ok.” I got up with him to go pay.

“Don’t worry. I’ll get this one.” He indicated for me to sit down.

Then he said “You can get the next one.”

There’s gonna be a next one???

“I’m still not convinced it was a date. He never tried to kiss me or anything!” I reported to Ronnie over the phone as soon as I got home. “I’m probably just mistaking a friendly hangout for romantic interest.”

Besides, there no way he still wants to pursue this! The date must have been just as bad for him as it was for me! These feelings are usually mutual, no?

The next day I got a text from Joshua, asking me if I had an oven.

“He invited himself over to bake banana bread in my oven!!!” I yelled over the phone to Ronnie and swore that I was not making this up.

“Ok so he’s definitely not just being friendly now.” Ronnie said once she stopped laughing “Are you gonna…ahem…”bake banana bread” with him?”

I could hear the air quotes over the phone.

“I mean… I’m not that interested in him.” I admitted “But…part of me wants to date him just to spite Johan you know?”

It felt wrong as soon as I said it…but still couldn’t help thinking it.

“I mean, I started dating Johan because I thought he was a nice guy.” I continued, “I thought he was different. But turns out he wants an open relationship too!”

I proceeded to tell Ronnie everything.

“I say date him!” Ronnie yelled, “Date em all!!! I guarantee you he’s dating other girls too!”

“Who?” I asked “Joshua? Johan?”

“All of them!” Ronnie got even louder, “If all these guys are dating multiple women! Why can’t women do the same???”

“Yeah!” I yelled back righteously, “Why can’t we? All the guys here do it!!!”

“Yeah!!!! You go sister!!!”

“Yeah!!!”

I told Ronnie that I was gonna text Joshua back and invite him over to “bake banana bread”. I hung up feeling pumped.

I opened my phone to the chat with Joshua.

Except my fingers wouldn’t move.

After a few minutes, I opened another chat instead.

“Hi Johan. Unfortunately…” I began.

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